Devouring Like Wolves - Unchained Melody - CycleBlaze

January 6, 2024

Devouring Like Wolves

Pra Khon Chai to Non Din Daeng

Tithonia Rotundifolia - Mexican sunflower.
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Devouring Like Wolves

I think it was because our bungalow was near a pretty big body of water that made it so relaxing.  Also there was no one else staying there.  It was super peaceful and we left early but reluctantly.  The owner was no nonsense the two nights we were there.  She gave us what we needed and then gave us space.  She also gave us an extra bottle of water probably because she knew we had ridden our bikes up the "mountain" early in the morning.  The bungalow was spotless and had more electrical outlets than any we have ever stayed at!  Usually outlets are scarce in rooms over here.  

Leaving a favorite bungalow at sunrise.
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If I was a school kid at this school and I had to write the name of the school at the top of each paper throughout the year I'd revolt.
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Milkweed
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Bill ShaneyfeltHuge flowers!

https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/67574-Calotropis-gigantea/browse_photos?place_id=6967
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo Bill ShaneyfeltYes, and the plant was huge too. Way over my head in height. Thank you for the identification. We saw a lot of these in Vietnam but I never got a photo of them until I found one here in Thailand.
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1 month ago

We took the small road in front of our guest house straight west a few miles to a small town, Yam Watthana, and then turned onto a bigger road south, the 4013.  It was a bit busier than we like but it was a good road to make some distance on in short order.   We came to the intersection of an even larger road, the 224, which we knew we didn't want to be on so we turned off it after less than a mile at the town of Lahan Sai down a random side street and there we saw a sweet little noodle soup stand. Even before we had the soup on our taste buds I had the distinct feeling the woman was a really good cook.  She just seemed serious and meticulous enough to be really good at whatever she did.  The menu board on the wall, with 60 different items, was another indication.  Anyone able to cook so many different dishes with such a rudimentary kitchen had to be good at it.  

The quality and taste of the soup told me my intuition was right.  When I discover a real chef in Thailand I want to stay in the town for a week or two and just try everything they know how to make.  It's astonishing that she can whip out so many different things and I believed they all would be great tasting.  This is the type of person who really is a chef, who doesn't have to put a sign out front saying she was a chef.  She was humble in her humble little kitchen.  I wish I could have tried more than her noodle soup.  Maybe some other year, but for now we were fortified and we rode on.

The restaurant where we got noodle soup.
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The extraordinary chef at work.
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There are 60 items on her menu!
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Again we were in an area where the biggest crop was tapioca root (It's also called cassava).  Again, big trees in the middle of fields and there were some areas of sugar cane.  We stopped to watch a harvester do an incredible job on the sugar cane.  The huge piece of machinery mowed down the ten foot tall canes and somehow separated the stalk from the many leaves and shot the chunks of stalk into a snail's pace moving truck alongside. One guy and a bunch of trucks hauling it all away and the ground had been covered with the leaves pulverized so finely they were like dust, perfect to be plowed back into the soil or, if they were going to let the cane return for another crop, perfect as mulch.  Our thoughts went to slaves in the Americas doing that hard work with no other choice in the matter.  Now one guy in a big machine.  There are so many things to think about on a trip like this.

It's planting season for tapioca. It's amazing that they just push these cuttings into the bone dry soil and it might not even rain until June but tapioca doesn't care. Within a few days or weeks these sticks will sprout green leaves.
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Doing the work of twenty people in the cane fields.
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Temple gates and temples everywhere.
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This is a crematory on the left and on the right are little pagoda things that hold your loved one's ashes. These are all for sale strategically placed next to the crematory I'd say. I could see a salesman here while the body is burning pulling people over to look at the pagodas. Get them while they are grieving, would be his unwritten motto.
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Another Buddhist roadside attraction.
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I stopped to take a photo of this cute blue bicycle across the road but didn't realize the woman was also wearing a similar colored shirt. Then, at the same time Andrea found a marble the same color. That's a mango tree, by the way.
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These are like fake cement blocks.
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We were zeroing in on a possible guest house as far into the hills as guest houses went before the pass we had to take in the morning.  We wanted to be as close to that pass as possible to try to beat traffic in the morning.  I was referring to this pass as the "hard part" ominous as it sounded.  It was a pass between two large hills they call mountains around here, covered with trees, national parks and elephants.  We don't have GPS which means we rely on Google Maps which doesn't give elevation. We assumed the pass had steep hills because there always are in Thailand and we wanted to be as ready for them as we could.  It is the only highway to that part of Isaan which meant a lot of traffic, big trucks included, had to take that route.  We were not looking forward to it and mostly we never mentioned it although I sometimes said,  "the hard part" to Andrea and she would say nothing but looked worried.  

We were pretty much at the final guest house area so we stopped at Phu Pha Cafe where we had the most wonderful coffee in the nicest setting for a coffee house that I've ever experienced.  There were plants galore, like a jungle, cute wooden seating and wooden tables, a waterfall cascading into a crystal clear pond full of mosquito-wiggler-eating guppies.  The space went on under big trees covered with philodendrons to various levels and more and more seating styles and arrangements.  It was so incredibly beautiful and the coffee so delicious that we decided on the spot to stay in one of their bungalows as well, sight unseen.  It was only around 11AM and even though we had devoured a large piece of barbecued chicken a few miles back at an unexpected OTOP barbecued chicken area we knew we would be hungry for dinner but we were in the middle of nowhere.  

Phu Pha Cafe
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Phu Pha Cafe
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Phu Pha Cafe
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We got the aforementioned large piece of delicious chicken at the very last stand by the road after we had passed identical dozens.   Here we had been in a virtual food/restaurant desert for days and suddenly we were in a restaurant/barbecued chicken oasis.  I must have swiveled my head towards each and every one of those pieces of chicken (hundreds) that were all creatively locked in slit pieces of bamboo, on end, over coals.  I had gotten progressively more hungry for chicken, specifically barbecued chicken, as we rode the OTOP Chicken Boulevard that by the time we passed the final stand I stopped abruptly and said to Andrea, "Do we need to have some chicken?"  Her answer was, "Let's have some chicken."   

Barbecued chicken OTOP area.
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We devoured our piece of chicken like two wolves and nobody's business and were back on the road in no more than ten minutes.  I've always threatened that someday when we're riding in Thailand, and we're very hungry, I'm going to stop and buy a whole rotisserie barbecued chicken at a rotisserie barbecue chicken OTOP area and we're going to sit down by the side of the road and eat the whole thing, again, like wolves, throwing cleaned off bones willy-nilly.  This was just a little preparation, a dry chicken run, for that someday famous day which, afterwards we can gather the grandchildren and tell of the day we ate a whole chicken like we were wolves.

So, we were drinking the most wonderful coffee at Phu Pha Cafe, (I hate to say it, real coffee, not the old style traditional cafe bolan, we normally get), grown in Thailand, ground on the spot and made into cappuccinos with some sweet milk, and had just decided to stay at their adjoining guest house but were wondering about dinner.  There were two or three photos of plates of food on a door that looked like a door to a kitchen which was part of the coffee house.  There were reasonable prices on the photos too.  It looked promising that they might have food available.  As I said, we were in the middle of nowhere so naturally we were excited to see those photos.

We asked the woman who made us the coffees and she said that they didn't make food anymore.  We then asked if there was a restaurant where we could eat.  She waved vaguely in a direction but we had just come up a huge hill in that vague direction and we had not seen any restaurants, only wilderness.  It was so much a wilderness area that there were road signs, "Elephant Crossing!"  

I really wanted to see some elephants but nope.
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We waved our hands in the direction of the vagueness and added a look of confusion for emphasis and being a Thai woman she knew she had to rescue us and try to feed us since we were on bikes and we might waste away on her watch if she didn't take care of us.  It worked.  She said she would get us food.  Since we had vaguely pointed at a certain one of the three photos of food  but in our minds were just showing her food, generic food, not a specific food.  We found out that this doesn't really work for Thais.  We now think because we had pointed at a dish with krapow muu (fried basil with pork on a pile of rice and a fried egg on top) she took that to mean that we wanted that specific dish.   And that was stuck in her mind never to be unstuck.   Krapow muu is possibly THE most common food in Thailand (the pork is ground).  But, we wanted to make it as easy as possible so we were saying we wanted fried rice.   We don't know if it is easier to make fried rice than krapow but it seemed to us like it might be.  Why oh why we thought we were making things easier by ordering fried rice, I'll never know.  

Even though I was not saying krapow but fried rice she wasn't taking that as fact.  She knew what we had pointed at and probably thought the crazy foreigner who is trying to speak Thai is saying the wrong dish.  Plus, the foreigner maybe doesn't even know what he is looking at.  Or, maybe the foreigner doesn't even know what he wants.  Do foreigners ever really know anything?  All of this may have been sloshing through her mind because she looked very confused, ill-at-ease even, as I kept saying fried rice. This was all in Thai and we have never had such a problem with the person understanding us.  She asked over and over but we kept saying fried rice - khao phad.  And maybe because we still had chicken on our minds and palettes we said fried rice with chicken.  The woman kept saying krapow muu which is pork and kept confusing us (and her) because we kept saying fried rice with chicken.  We finally thought she had it straight then came the time we wanted it.  

Because we were asking about it at 11AM she thought we wanted it immediately but we told her 6 o'clock.  She got an even more confused look on her face and was moving from foot to foot and I could tell she just wanted to run away from the crazy foreigners.  We went round and round about AM versus PM and normally my Thai doesn't get us in so much confusion.  I was starting to think that maybe they spoke some strange dialect around these parts and didn't understand me at all.  Afterall there are elephants.  We were somewhere we had never been.  Elephants!  Wild ones!  

I said we wanted it today at 6 thinking that there was no way to mistake that particular 6 since there was only one 6 left to the day but that didn't register at all with the woman.  Then it came out that she knew AM and PM in English so we thought she had that right, finally.  To get onto something we could all be more comfortable with we asked to see one of the bungalows.  She was happy to do that and leave the food dilemma in the confused past.  

There are some things I didn't understand at Phu Pha Greenview Resort.
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She showed us the bungalow way at the end which thrilled us since it was the furthest from the noisy road.  While we were inspecting the inside we heard the housekeeper yelling something from outside to the woman.  Then the woman got nervous all over again and was suddenly steering us away from taking that bungalow and wanted to show us a different one.  We said, no, we liked this one and will take it but she insisted she show us another one.  This was getting so awkward and confusing that I didn't care anymore.  I just wanted the woman to be happy.  I wanted to start running into the jungle.

She took us to another bungalow which was identical to the one she first showed us and we said, "Yes, we'll take it."  And I shoved the money in her hand. Then she came up with a face-saving detail that the view of the mountains was better from this other bungalow.  Fine, we didn't care anymore.  Those were the mountains we had to go through in the morning so we were not so enamored of them, but, fine. 

Phu Pha Greenview Resort
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John SolemIt looks rather piñata-ish?
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo John SolemYes it does. It also looks small. It was actually really big.
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1 month ago
Lisa LeslieI think it's actually the elusive Porcinious-Bovine Monkey.
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1 month ago
Lovely bungalows at Phu Pha Greenview Resort.
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We had no sooner unloaded our bags off our bikes when the housekeeper came to talk to us about our dinner order.  Unbelievably we went through the exact same scenario with her.  I have never had such misunderstandings and confusion with my Thai.  I know I don't speak well at all but this was crazy.  Again, she said krapow and I said khao phad.  I thought there must be something else going on here but I couldn't figure out what it was. After a while it seemed she might be understanding what we wanted, then she wanted to know what time.  Ahhhh!  Unbelievable!  She went away confused.

Then we worked on the journal and enjoyed the beautiful bungalow and the setting.  A car came to the bungalow on the end but left after an hour or two.  So that was what the housekeeper was telling the other woman, that someone wanted that bungalow for a short time and wanted to be as invisible as possible way on the end.  So there was rhyme and reason on that one.  Maybe there was some sort of rhyme and reason for the food and not just because Andrea had first pointed at the photo of krapow muu. Maybe the restaurant they were going to get the food from over in that vague direction made krapow muu only. How weird that would be! 

Around 6:30PM our food was delivered to us on plates.  It was beautiful krapow muu on a pile of rice with a fried egg on top.  We devoured it like wolves and it was delicious.

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lovebruce  

Today's ride: 28 miles (45 km)
Total: 779 miles (1,254 km)

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Gregory GarceauWhen you wrote the Phu Pha Cafe had "the nicest setting for a coffee house I've ever experienced," does that include the Number 8 Coffee House from your last tour of Thailand? I remember your photos of that setting to be quite extraordinary.
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo Gregory GarceauOkay, you got me. And how astute of you to know that. Yes, many times this trip when we have been really in the middle of nowhere I've often thought of that Number 8 Coffee place and wished something similar would suddenly appear. It was the most peaceful coffee house ever.

This Phu Pha place had a different kind of beauty which I appreciated but you are right, the Number 8 fit my personality better. More driftwoody organic. Phu Pha was more snazzy, upscale.
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1 month ago
Gregory GarceauTo Bruce LellmanI remember the Number 8 mainly because I commented on it in your last journal. It looked so beautiful. Like you, I kind of wish something similar would pop up on one of my bike tours. Ha ha ha. Not here in the land of Starbucks, Caribou, Dunkin, Peet's, etc.
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo Gregory GarceauIt would be so cool if, for instance, you were riding the Cannon River Rails-to-Trails route and you came over a rise and there overlooking the Cannon River was a hand-built wooden structure, half of the wood having been picked up along the river's edge and artistically cobbled together and there was a guy selling the most wonderful tasting coffee from beans from northern Minnesota and cream freshly squeezed from a local, willing, cow earlier in the morning and some soft Scandinavian music wafting over the entire scene and the coffee cost $.60. It would be so nice.
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1 month ago