Flatlanders Again and Loving It - This Time Tomorrow - CycleBlaze

January 30, 2017

Flatlanders Again and Loving It

Chai Prakan to Tha Ton

Dear little friends,

Our humble guesthouse was perhaps a bit more humble than even we are content with but since we woke up in one piece with a day of flat riding ahead of us everything was cool. The guesthouse gets points for most baffling blanket design, too. Our papaya-muesli did not disappoint and we had a route planned for the day that would soon take us off of the highway and onto sweet back roads, bypassing Fang and heading in a wayward fashion to Tha Ton.

We also feel more secure having our bikes inside our room no matter how cramped it might get.
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The last thing I would have thought of in this room in this town way over here in northern Thailand was the Green Bay Packers.
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Our daily papaya as part of our breakfast in bed, or on bed.
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We don’t mind wayward roads. The back roads of Thailand are so sweet. Flat roads are so sweet. We could hardly wait to jet out of Chai Prakan.

We rode along the noisy highway for several miles, stopping now and then to check for our turnoff. Supposedly there was going to be a large open field to our left first. Not surprisingly, we did not see the open field because there were some buildings between it and us which can happen if you don’t look at the Google satellite view closely.

But before we passed the large open field that we never saw we did see two touring cyclists going southbound. We waved. They waved. We stopped. They stopped. It was a brief standoff and then we decided to dart across the road to chat with them which wasn’t the smoothest move because that was the moment a Thai driver went all Nascar on us and barely missed me. One would like to point out to a driver that there is something called a brake in their car, not just an accelerator but of course one never has that chance, does one? In any case, the couple were looking a little wide-eyed at the two dorks willing to risk life and limb to cross the highway to talk to them.

Monsieur spoke some English, Madame not a word, but we had a nice chat nevertheless. It’s fun to talk to people who have just ridden from where you are going to, and they assured us that they also had ascended hellishly steep roads but the highway after Tha Ton would be fine. Then we much more carefully crossed the highway and carried on. Shortly after that was the invisible field and the turnoff that we only missed by a few yards, back across the Daytona Speedway, and finally onto the smooth, quiet, FLAT country roads of our dreams.

Crematoriums are usually located out in the countryside in very peaceful settings.
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We have discovered something about papaya breakfasts, and that is that papayas are both 90% water and have diuretic qualities which means we spend a fair amount of time in the mornings having to pee, wondering if we need to pee again so soon, looking for places to pee, and peeing. Fortunately in these parts quiet driveways with shrubbery and quiet temples with lots of monk toilets abound.

The bikes wait while we dash into the bushes to pee.
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Elaborate house
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A Burmese temple.
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We drifted east, then north, then east, but mostly north as we bombed through quiet villages. The coffee situation was getting a little concerning but suddenly we found a little booth with a girl napping with her phone on her chest and the telltale “tung yai” bags hanging above and pyramid of condensed milk cans piled on the counter. I can spot those cans a mile away now but it’s fun to screech to a halt in a dramatic fashion anyway. Bruce amused himself photographing the panda tablecloth. It was panda this and panda that. I amused myself crunching on ice and patting myself on the back over the sweet route we were on.

We hit the brakes hard for coffee huts like this one. In Vietnam they would for sure have screaming fast wifi but we are in mellow, laid back Thailand.
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The spirit house and offerings at the humble little coffee hut.
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Shortly after that the pee factor raised its urgent head again so we stopped in a very lovely temple grounds to check out the monk toilets. We had passed a funeral earlier with a lot of monks and relatives in attendance so we think that was why this temple was so deserted. The dogs yapped a bit at us as I sat in the shade and enjoyed the quiet retreat under tall beautiful spreading trees. Bruce amused himself photographing the temple statuary until I reminded him why we had stopped in the first place. Temples often host crowds of people so there is usually a row of free toilets toward the back of the grounds, often quite nice ones. You generally have your pick of sit or squat, they are clean, and there will be a sink with soap. We don’t take any of this for granted and have appreciated these amenities wherever we find them.

A beautiful temple under shady trees.
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It was pretty hot though. There were signs of the upcoming hot season, the drying grass, the smoke in the air, the completely lifeless streets as the siesta hour approached. We remarked to each other that one never saw a lifeless street in Vietnam no matter what time of day it was, they were out toiling, motorbiking, selling, calling from the shadows. It looked like the Rapture had occurred in these villages but probably it was the siren call of afternoon soap operas on the tv as a hundred thousand shady hammocks kept sensible Thais off the road we were on.

Every new building has this sort of slanted roof called a 'shed roof'. It and pastel colors are the style now throughout Thailand and a bit in neighboring countries as well.
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Eventually we had to make our way back toward the highway, and then it was a swift downhill into Tha Ton. Tha Ton hugs the Kok River, and there are guesthouses and such but nothing else that we could find except for a 7-11. The Garden Home guesthouse provided us with a sweet little bungalow on the river, doubly nice after last night’s digs, and we had a late lunch at a nearby restaurant. We had spotted papayas as we entered Tha Ton so back up the hill we went and bought the cheapest papaya in the known universe. What does a papaya cost at a Portland Trader Joe’s? 2 or 3 bucks, that’s what. This one was less than a dime, beautiful, ripe, and big.

This is the biggest pile of papayas we have seen on our trip. We also brake hard for papayas. We think they are one reason our stomachs have been so happy.
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The more papayas someone has for sale the cheaper they are because when they are this ripe they don't last much longer.
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Our bungalow at Garden Home Bungalows in Tha Ton, Thailand
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A tiny girl ran around the dining area at Garden Home as we ate. Her dad was putting up lights and turning them on for us as we looked out over the river. The jungle rose steeply on the other side and mosquitoes nibbled delicately on our ankles. Birds called all night and I only know that because it was so quiet I would just wake up and enjoy it and then nestle back into a deep sleep. Every day brings something so different. Yesterday I had been cursing the stupidly steep roads, today I was loving the life of the bike traveler. It’s something good to dream about, how your life is going to see another bend, another tree, another tiny girl dancing around in the dusk, but you just don’t know it yet.

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Today's ride: 36 miles (58 km)
Total: 1,762 miles (2,836 km)

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