Vacation - This Time Tomorrow - CycleBlaze

January 11, 2017

Vacation

Pak Nam Prasae to Laem Mae Phim

Vacation

We rode through the tunnel of shops and houses which forms the main street of Pak Nam Prasae one more time as we left in the morning. One more time I marveled at how unique and interesting the town was with its largely roofed-over main street, old teak buildings tight together in a row on top of pilings over water, and ocean-going fishing boats just behind. I’ve never seen a town quite like it anywhere in Thailand and I think it would be as big a hit with Thai tourists as Chiang Khan way on the other end of Thailand to the northeast.

If the townspeople could put up with tourists renting portions of their homes and walking the street, there is money to be made. But maybe privacy and their way of life is just fine with them the way it is right now. The town’s character would no doubt change from an influx of tourists. There would have to be restaurants which, now there is maybe one. Pak Nam Prasae is a lot closer for tourists traveling from Bangkok than Chiang Khan. And there are nearby beaches, mangrove preserves as well as the HTMS Prasae, a battleship turned national monument, all walking distance from downtown.

With such rich resources I can’t imagine the town not turning to tourism. I will return someday and regret ever having thoughts about changing it from the way it is right now. But none of this is up to me. Just speculating.

Up onto the big bridge we rode and stopped for an overview of the town and surrounding area. All I could think of was how the town and area will inevitably change. ‘Build it and they will come’, the saying goes. The big bridge was built and tourists will certainly come. Plus, Pak Nam Prasae sits incredibly close to nearly continuous tourist beaches that run all the way to Rayong. And that’s where we were headed.

All we had to do was ride a short distance through an area of fish farms on good-condition country roads and a nice wide shoulder and then around a promontory. We turned the corner and we were in tourist land. The beach was long and straight as far as we could see. There were the usual beach things: umbrellas stuck in the sand, beach chairs, seafood restaurants beachside and big hotels on the opposite side of the road from the beach. It felt right. We needed to finally swim in the ocean, an ocean that in Vietnam was always brown due to flood water runoff.

Pak Nam Prasae, Thailand
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A nice shoulder of the road indeed.
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It was a lovely short ride to the beach.
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I told Andrea this was her opportunity to try out a water bed. She didn't go for it.
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Laem Mae Phim, Thailand
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We pulled into a resort just to find out what we couldn’t afford. Normally in a place like we suddenly found ourselves a room would be too expensive for us. And it was. The woman at Sunee House Resort had a variety of rooms in a variety of buildings. Prices started at $25 for the most basic ones. Being out for 130 nights in a row on this trip we have to be careful and we never have to pay more than about $12.

We were relieved the woman spoke English and we told her that we couldn’t pay much. She went running off to check on what was reserved. When she came back we were surprised when she offered us one of the cutest bungalows we have ever seen for $20 a night down from the normal $35. We had lucked out since we were there mid-week.

Suddenly we were on VACATION. We loved the little cabin-like bungalow made entirely of wood. We swam in the ocean just a block away and it was warm and clean. We found a very good, cheap, Thai restaurant nearby that served great Thai food. There was no market but we still found someone selling papayas for our breakfasts which we ate on our enormous and beautiful slab of wood table on our lovely porch. The cleaning woman brought us free coffee. We were in heaven.

Our bungalow at Sunee House Resort. Laem Mae Phim, Thailand
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What a great porch.
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One of our famous papaya, muesli, banana and soy milk breakfasts.
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Great food at this restaurant near our bungalow.
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We told the owner, Nun, how much we were enjoying it and she was pleased. She was so nice. I asked her how it was she spoke English so well and she said she had spent 18 years living in Sweden. I guessed Nun was no more than 32 years old so that would mean she went to Sweden when she was quite young. I didn’t ask why she had gone there but she told us that she and her husband had to come back to Thailand a year ago to help her mother run the resort.

I told her I was a quarter Swedish. She got a bemused look on her face and repeated, “A quarter Swedish.” When she said it it did sound funny. But through my travels I have come to know that nobody in the world knows their roots or talks about their ancestral roots like Americans do. If I say to someone from Germany that I am half German they think that is quite funny. I guess it points out how diverse America is. Most Americans are a hodgepodge of the world except the native peoples. In a place like Sweden the vast majority of the people are 100% Swedish so they never think about it, at least not in the same way Americans do. Just about every country in the world is made up of predominantly one people. America is the odd one where everyone is half this and a quarter that.

Then Nun’s husband came to talk with us as well. I was thinking she was married to a blonde Swede but no, quite the opposite. Antonio, dark as can be, was from Iran. He had been a refugee in Sweden where the two met and married. I asked them what language they spoke to each other. Swedish. Antonio knows he needs to learn Thai but was having a hard time with it. Unless things change radically in Iran and they want to go there to live someday Nun does not have to learn Farsi. What a world! especially for this couple. So diverse.

Nun and Antonio. Thai and Iranian but speaking Swedish to each other! Our guest house owners.
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The next day, as we were walking with towels to the beach, we passed two little girls. After we had passed them it dawned on us they were speaking Swedish to each other! I just love this world.

Coincidentally, and also quite odd, is what we learned about the immediate area. It’s where Swedes come to vacation in the winter! There are even signs and menus in Swedish. Whole groups of blondes roam the streets. Looking into an outdoor restaurant connected to a big tall hotel I saw a sea of blonde and white hair. There is a Swedish bakery and restaurants that serve traditional Swedish foods. It’s something I never would have thought about - that there was a place in Thailand favored by Swedes for their vacationing destination. I have a bemused look on my face over that one.

I think it’s interesting how people like to congregate with their own kind half way around the globe. In Vietnam we were in two or three beach areas where 95% of the tourists were Russian. Signs and menus were in Russian and even a few Vietnamese spoke a smattering of Russian. All I can say is Nun finds herself in the right place to communicate with potential customers. I wrote to my friend in Minnesota who has been learning to speak Swedish for years that I know of a warm beach town for him to vacation and exercise his Swedish at the same time. And eat great Thai food.

Swimming was a real delight. The waves were quite small and there were no currents. It was a big bathtub of warm salty water. We floated around for three days and from all the effort the Thais made setting up temporary beach restaurants, umbrellas and chairs we thought we were in for a huge invasion of tourists at any time. But it never materialized. Clouds rolled by but it never rained. The temperatures were so high that being in the water was a big relief. We swam around out there for what seemed like hours enjoying all the blue and wondering why we had not seen one single seagull our entire trip.

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Every day I said I could swim out to that island. But there was no way I was going to.
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I've never seen crabs such as these. They were way too beautiful to kill and eat. I contemplated what would happen if I grabbed the tub and ran to the beach to let them go. Like swimming to the island, I never did it.
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Laem Mae Phim, Thailand
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We ended up staying in our adorable bungalow for three nights including a Friday night which we thought for sure we would have to vacate for. Nun and Antonio were glad we were there, some of their only guests. I think the weekends are a different story but we were happy it didn’t start with Friday night. They told us they were fully booked for Saturday night.

Laem Mae Phim, Thailand
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One evening after dark we were walking on the main road looking for ice cream when three loaded cyclists rode by us. I recognized them and blurted out loud enough for them to hear me, “Hey, it’s the Russians!” They stopped and we directed them to what we figured was the cheapest place to stay. We hadn’t seen them since border when we were all entering Cambodia.

After ice cream we saw that the three Russian cycle tourers were staying very near to us at the same resort. The next day they headed out determined to take the new ferry from Pattaya Beach to Hua Hin across the Gulf of Thailand. I had heard that it wouldn’t start operating for another few years but that was for the official government run ferries. Of course a private ferry company jumped into business until then. I’m skeptical. This is the sort of thing you read about. Unsafe ferries go down all the time in this part of the world. We wished them well.

Most people we know back home consider our cycling trip to be one big vacation. And it is to some degree but it is also a lot of effort. I don’t think of “vacation” having anything like “effort” involved. It may sound odd but it wasn’t until we relaxed in our bungalow near the ocean and went swimming whenever we wanted to that we considered the concept of “vacation.”

lovebruce

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Today's ride: 12 miles (19 km)
Total: 1,522 miles (2,449 km)

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