Enough of the South - This Time Tomorrow - CycleBlaze

January 14, 2017

Enough of the South

Laem Mae Phim to Rayong

Dear little friends,

We’d been grappling with how we will spend the remaining six weeks of this trip. Some people plan out every day and route ahead of time, not us, we change plans on a dime according to weather, whether we like where we are or want to move on, how we are feeling. So our only certainty was that we needed to board an Air Nippon flight in Bangkok on March 2, everything else was in play.

Our beachy time had been fun but not off the charts, and while we had been leaning toward going south again, back to Prachuap Khiri Khan and perhaps even back to Koh Chiang Noi, per our last trip, there were some things niggling us about that plan. One, there is a danger when you try to recreate what had been a perfect experience. Two, humidity. We have photos of me melting off my sunscreen in the south, and guess what? The same thing had been happening for six weeks already. Every day we leave our air conditioned room and hit a wall of heat and humidity and my spirits plummet and my sweat glands erupt and a cloud of funk envelops me and I have to keep moving just to remain sane. Lastly, and probably most importantly, news reports were still showing huge flooding in the south, and other bike travelers were posting photos of destroyed roads and inaccessible areas. We had had enough of that in Vietnam, thank you very much.

We looked at what we needed to do to get into the cooler and drier north of Thailand, and gritted our teeth and set upon our plan. We needed to get to Bangkok. Cycling north through industrial suburbs looked boring and hot, and life seemed too short for that. So step one, leave our little cabin and head to Rayong.

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This whole restaurant along with dozens exactly like it can only be up on the beach side during the weekend. A lot of labor for what looked like few customers.
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At least most of this route would be along the beach, but it was the weekend of National Children’s Day so even though the weather was cloudy families were flocking to the beach in droves. We passed through several beach communities and as we got closer and closer to Rayong they were more and more crowded. Somebody had suggested we might enjoy Phe, because there were “more activities” there. Phe was a nightmare of minibuses and scads of foreign tourists either boarding boats to the islands or returning with their sunburns and rolling suitcases. Yeah, not our thing.

A favorite of Thais; a picnic on the beach.
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Just the towels/bedspreads/? you need for a full moon party on Koh Partyhearty.
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Bike lanes usually get used for other things.
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These curtains are made entirely of shells.
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We were overtaken by a Polish cyclist and we stopped and had a coffee and a chat with him. He has recently toured Myanmar and was heading toward Quang Ngai for a stint teaching English and then on to the Americas to continue his world-wide bike trip. It was fun meeting him and we hope to host him if he’s ever in Oregon.

Daniel from Poland, riding home from Sydney, Australia. His website is: www.bike2be.net.
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Andrea, I know how you like to match but please don't touch those wires.
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The clouds burned off as we neared Rayong, which is fairly large and acts as a commercial and shopping hub so there was plenty of traffic to contend with. But at heart it is a small town and turning off and seeing papayas at the market and more traditional wooden houses again was reassuring. We found a renovated hotel that was nice enough for the likes of us that coincidentally was very close to the post office. I’ve been wanting to mail the cold weather gear we had thought we might need in northern Vietnam ever since, well, since northern Vietnam. Now was our chance.

Wait, what is he barbecuing anyway?
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Rayong has a street of old buildings too.
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Portraits of the king are everywhere with a lot of black.
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Rayong isn’t really a tourist hub, it turns out, so we had to do a little searching for food, but found a real Thai place, where the ten-page menu is in Thai and the one-page afterthought menu is in English. There was one copy of that menu and they had to dig through the pile to find it. It was a cute place, kind of garden-like with many lively young staff darting here and there and pushing each other forward to take care of the foreigners. Once they found out we knew a tiny bit of Thai everybody calmed down and a couple of the guys found time to stand and calmly watch us eat. A little disconcerting but then, you know you’re really somewhere when that happens.

Our server at our most excellent Thai restaurant.
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The next day was spent procuring a box, packing it full of stuff, including the tent, mailing it, and exploring a nearby mall/market area and an old temple. We reorganized our suddenly spacious panniers and prepared to leave for Bangkok, which neither one of us was looking forward to at all.

Guess what we found at the mall? I grew up two blocks from a small-town Dairy Queen so this was a little taste of home.
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Gold leaf detail.
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These flower leis are used for rear view mirrors mostly. Buses always have several. We think they are good luck as well as smelling nice. Thais are very superstitious.
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Old doors.
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Our package that we will next see sitting on our porch in Portland in about two months. This never ceases to amaze us.
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Today's ride: 34 miles (55 km)
Total: 1,556 miles (2,504 km)

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