Talking to Birds and Avoiding Oompa Loompa Thailand - This Time Tomorrow - CycleBlaze

January 10, 2017

Talking to Birds and Avoiding Oompa Loompa Thailand

Lang Saem to Prasae

Dear little friends,

I don’t know much about tropical birds but there is a particular one that I like to mimic, and they were talking away in the morning so I tried to talk back. “Uh-WRU-oo” I said. Why they make me want to respond is anybody’s guess, maybe because they are so plaintive and persistent. I feel like I should address their concerns. Bruce gives me a dry librarian glance when I do this.

Although we were on the beach, the sea seemed listless and our interest in it as well. Our little orange cottage, as sweet as it was, seemed a bit overpriced so we donned our riding duds and packed up again. Maybe there would be another beach in our cards with a little more appeal. We had spotted a market the night before and headed over there to check out the cafe bulan sitch, and sure enough there was a lady with the little tin pots and cloth bags dyed deepest coffee brown. Actually, what you want to look for is a stack of condensed milk cans, a dead giveaway.

Also, one wants to say, “Mai Nescafe” or they give you that instead because they think it’s good. Pro tips for you all.

After coffee we headed due west over a bridge with a great view of fishing boats, then on through more neighborhoods. Back roads in Thailand are just a pleasure, they usually are in great shape and you can admire flowers, birds, babies, and look for soup. We were given extra pork balls in our soup, and a neighbor that spoke English quite well stopped and then relayed our particulars to the soup-makers. We flexed our arms Popeye-style to show them how tough and athletic we are which gives anybody who knows us and those who don’t a pretty good laugh.

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This was so silly. Every time the so called bike lane was interrupted by a road they had signs saying it ended and then began again across the street. And it wasn't even a bike lane. Anywhere else it would have been called the shoulder.
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Noodle soup lunch.
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There was another forested headland to cross that involved climbing, something that makes for a lot of complaining from the female half of our party, don’t ask me, I don’t know her. On the downhill whiz down I spotted a Walls freezer with my special superpower ice cream vision and we stopped. But the food the lady was making distracted us completely from ice cream even though we had just had soup an hour before. She also had a little grocery and I found just the right size of detergent. We could kind of understand the chuckling conversation she had with other customers, “They stopped for ice cream but bought detergent and fried rice instead.”

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It was sort of a wistful search for the perfect beach spot. I’m not even that much of a beach person, salty water, yech. But here we were in the swaying palm trees after six weeks of riding the coastal waters that had been too dirty/rain and sewage soaked/littered to consider. What were we doing here if we weren’t going to be at the beach for reals? We went through a town that should have ticked all the boxes except that it wasn’t actually on the beach. ChaoLao has a million candy-colored guesthouses and resorts, a red brick bike lane (where Bruce had the closest call of the trip when a motorbike going the wrong way almost crashed into him), a thousand and one restaurants, and some pretty cheesy lawn ornaments, even for Thailand.

These are the most beautiful and large plants called desert rose that I've ever seen.
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Amazingly large desert rose.
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Desert rose.
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ChaoLao's separated bike and walking path. We were the only souls on it until a motorbike came zipping along going the wrong way.
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The thing is, for Thai tourists it’s the perfect place. The only Thais who seem to go into the ocean are fishermen or teenagers who go in fully clothed, blue jeans and all. Who needs a stinking beach? Give them a hotpot seafood restaurant, a bottle of iced Chang, and some giant concrete strawberries. Now that’s a vacation.

For us, we were creeped out, like the Oompa Loompas would appear at any moment. We got the hell out of there.

Yet one more bike lane iteration, this one in the middle of a forest.
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In mid-afternoon we got to a town on an inlet called Prasae, that I had noted had a few homestay-style accommodations. We are generally too antisocial for homestays but that’s all there were. We were kind of tired and the last run into Prasae was straight with a full headwind which the same person who complains about hills wasn’t happy about. Turning onto the main street of Prasae, though, was a surreal moment.

It turns out that that part of the town is built on stilts over the inlet, and that nearly every house crowds up to the edge of the street, which is one car wide, if it’s a small Japanese import. The houses are all teak, open in front, so you can see inside to the beautiful teak floors polished by 70-100 years of feet. There is a roof over much of the street so it feels like entering a tunnel. Cats laze around, and dogs, and old people sit near the street so they can see what’s going on. Little traffic meant it was hushed, and between houses you could see huge fishing boats moored right up to the houses.

Pak Nam Prasae, Thailand
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Pak Nam Prasae's main street.
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Slow Life
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Pak Nam Prasae, Thailand
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Bruce and I looked at each other with wide eyes. What a cool place!

Here and there were nods to the historic significance of this town, with cute-but-not-cutesy murals and old photos of 1940s beauty pageants or kids on bikes. It was remarkable.

Vintage photo of a beauty contest which was posted on main street.
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Vintage photo from a scene at low tide.
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After a fruit shake we prowled around looking for a place to stay and found a homestay set back a bit, with new buildings and cute dogs and we were able to bargain the price down if we skipped breakfast. This town was cute but there was something there that made us feel pretty shy, maybe a Chinese standoffishness, maybe just our own sensitivities. But it was a great place nevertheless.

Cute friendly dog that came with the home stay.
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Our so called home stay. We didn't stay in a home so I'd say it was no different than a guest house.
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While wandering out onto a very worn pier area, a group of folks called out and offered us a beer, which we split, and to sample their dinner, which we politely declined because it didn’t look like there was much to it and what there was looked like unidentifiable organisms. They were super friendly and helped break the ice for us. Besides, we had already eaten twice and were certainly adequately nourished. Bruce had a moon cake (yep, this town was definitely Chinese) and I had a banana and some peanuts. We are on vacation. We can eat whatever we want.

Pak Nam Prasae
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Sewing helper.
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Pak Nam Prasae, Thailand
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Pak Nam Prasae, Thailand
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Today's ride: 41 miles (66 km)
Total: 1,510 miles (2,430 km)

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