Dodging Butterflies - Unchained Melody - CycleBlaze

February 3, 2024

Dodging Butterflies

Chumphon to Sawi

There are so many different species of butterflies down here.
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Scott AndersonI forget what this one is, but I recognize it from Taiwan.
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Bill ShaneyfeltMatches well with images of blue tiger.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tirumala_limniace
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Dodging Butterflies

During our second buffet breakfast at the Nana Buri Hotel I discussed with Andrea how I wanted to start analyzing buffet breakfasts throughout Thailand and then put it all on a website.  I could call it Bruce's Hollow Leg or something.  I could talk about the setting and of course all the various dishes and how they were presented, etc.  Then I could have some sort of rating system.  It would become so popular that hotels would be asking me to come stay at their hotels, for free of course, to rate their buffet breakfasts.  And then I'd be set.  I could buy a car and continually drive around Thailand, always with a free place to stay and just eat huge amounts of food every morning.  I'd have few expenses.  Of course after a year or so I'd have gained several hundred pounds, so there's that.   Oh well, nevermind.  Maybe if I cycle to each hotel I could keep my weight down.  I'll have to work on this plan some more.  

This was just the beginning at our buffet breakfast.
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It was a way to distract Andrea while I filled my hollow leg with many courses of food the Nana Buri Hotel was offering.  They had the best jok I've had since I lived with a Thai family in Chiang Mai when I was 20.  It's what my Thai family and I ate every single morning.  Jok is a rice gruel, quite watery and possibly including chunks of boneless chicken and nice pieces of mushrooms.  But the toppings is where jok comes alive.  There are all sorts of little bowls of things to add to your jok such as: salty peanuts, tiny dried fish, toasted shallots, crumbled hard boiled eggs, preserved turnip or something, cut up little pieces of green onion, possibly some chunks of sausage, finely cut strips of fresh ginger, peppers of course and maybe a few other things I can't remember.  It was just fantastic to finally find jok just the way I remember it so long ago.

The jok table. They offered two kinds of jok even!
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And there were lots of other Thai treats at breakfast including an amazing soup with loosely made little tiny pork balls and an aftertaste of galangal.  There was also a curry to die for, or to cry for since it was quite spicy hot.  The breakfast Nana Buri offered both days was definitely for Thais or at least the Thai palate.  I, of course, loved it.  I kind of like it when a hotel ignores what Westerners are most comfortable with for breakfast. A typical Thai breakfast is a taste treat in various ways and the Nana Buri did a great job.  After all, we saw mostly Thais staying there so they are naturally going to want foods they are familiar with.  Each morning there were a great number of Thais all dressed up in suits and in a group - a company or business organization type group. I figured the two guys who were not wearing suit coats were the head honchos.   

After I had tried everything and was satisfied we packed up and left town even though we didn't really want to leave Chumphon.  We love Chumphon.  Again, I have to mention food.....Chumphon is like the food capital of Thailand.  It's a food Mecca.  We've been through a lot of food deserts on this trip but Chumphon is a food oasis.  Food everywhere and again, most of it is classic Thai food.  We saw almost no restaurants offering Western kinds of food.  The other thing about Chumphon in regards to food is that there are so many restaurants that have what I call "Tray Food".  We saw it everywhere.  Out in front of restaurants, big or small, there were stainless steel trays of curries and such.  If not trays there were big steel pots.  With the trays you point at what you want and with the big pots you are encouraged to lift the lid and even take the ladle and stir the contents around to see what it is.  The aromas are intoxicating.  Thai food, man.  This stuff is the real thing and I've never seen another place that has as much of it as Chumphon and that's saying a lot since there is more food in any given town than anywhere I've ever been.

But we left.  Chumphon is a pretty big town but to leave to the south was easy.  All we did was turn south on Saladaeng, one of the most major streets in the center of town, and ride across the Tha Taphap River and the street turned into the 2018 which immediately became a delightful rural road through palm trees and oil palms.  We loved it.  At one point we missed a turn the 2018 made and instead of backtracking we cut across on a much smaller road which was even more delightful.  It was so peaceful and if we hadn't made that mistake we never would have seen the very rural temple, Wat Tum Khaonoi, where some very friendly dogs came out to ask us if they could go visit America.   

Big karst hills are to the west.
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Little cement roads in Thailand are a joy every time.
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I see the remnants of rows but things are getting jungly quickly.
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Lisa LeslieBest made up word of the week, "jungly"!
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Andrea BrownTo Lisa LeslieIf it was a five-letter word I could try it on Wordle 🫰
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Wat Tum Khaonoi. I'm not sure what they are calling a Wat here because it seems to be lacking the central building called a Viharn.
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We were riding through mostly oil palms but the oil palms were older and their convoluted trunks, where fronds had been cut off of them for years, ferns had found a good footing. making the trunks lush and green.  In between the trees was lush with other vegetation too, almost as if entire plantations were on the verge of going back to being jungle.  It was lush, green, humid of course and silent except for a whole lot of birds singing.  There were also more butterflies than we normally see and three times I had to duck and dodge butterflies that were headed right into my face.  I'll dodge a butterfly any day over a snake or a water monitor lizard two meters long!  Yes, crossing the road at one point was just that!  Those water monitor lizards give me the creeps and I'd sure hate to be up close with one.  We must be in the deep south now because we don't normally see them.  Or, there is more water for them to hang out in.  In between the rows of oil palms ditches had been dug and they were full of the recent rain water, perfect for two meter long lizards!  There were lots of freshly squashed snakes on the road too.  I'm glad that water monitor lizard made it across safely but there was little traffic for it to negotiate and I think Thais would be very careful to not hit a big lizard.  They certainly are careful to not hit us. 

I didn't want to get very close but here is the water monitor lizard.
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Jen RahnVery cool photo.

That's one large lizard!

I wouldn't want to get very close to it either.
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2 weeks ago
Bruce LellmanTo Jen RahnI'm sorry it isn't a better photo. When he was crossing the road I couldn't get my camera out fast enough. He would have looked more impressive from the side as he crossed the road. These things really give me the creeps.
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Then, seemingly in the middle of nowhere was a huge bus parked by the side of the road.  It was one of those big huge brightly painted buses that the Thais love to do up over the top in graphics. This one portrayed three women beauties.  Getting into the bus were a whole group of middle-aged Thai women touring a portion of Thailand.  We see these groups occasionally and the women always seem to be having the time of their lives.  They love seeing their own country, something they didn't have the means to do when they were young but now they are making up for it.  

They had stopped in front of a rather humble looking house for something or other.  There are so many places in Thailand where some such thing is made in one area and only one area or even one house and only one house and that one thing has become known as the best of its kind.  A bus loaded with middle-aged Thai women will seek out such places and stop and everyone will pile out and buy whatever it is and take it home and show their husbands who might not give a rat's ass about that one thing that is so special and they are just happy that their wives have had a good time on their tour of Thailand and it was awfully nice being home alone reading the newspaper.  My Thai father was like that and had these kinds of tours been in existence when I was living with my Thai family my Thai mother would have definitely gone on a tour with her friends and come home with stuff and would have been happier than that dog was to see us at Wat Tum Khaonoi; the one who wanted to visit America.

Thailand has crazy buses but inside they are super nice. Vietnam needs to get about 100,000 of these.
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At one point I stopped to take a photo of something or other - a very common occurrence.  When I was done photographing I looked down and there was a one Baht coin on the pavement, the very first money I've found on this trip.  The only reason I found it was because Andrea had stopped a little ahead to wait for me in the shade.   All the times she has found money has been when I have stopped to take a photo, which is odd.  I wouldn't go so far as to suggest half the money she has found should be mine.  No, I wouldn't suggest such a thing.  I think all of it should be mine! 

Actually, very early on in our trip I found an old Chinese coin.  You know, the kind, with a hole in the middle.  I think that makes up for all the money I haven't found because I think those old Chinese coins with the holes are kind of lucky.  So, Andrea can keep all the moola she's acquired.  I don't need it.  I'm rich in so many ways.  Now, if only I could remember where I put that Chinese coin for safe keeping!

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This statue may look somewhat like a Buddha but I believe he's supposed to be a monk.
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One of many waterways that empty into the ocean.
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Jen RahnDo you know what the symbol inside the triangle is?

Maybe I'm missing something that is obvious to others(?)

My wild guess is farm equipment under a street lamp .. and I'm pretty sure that's not it.
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2 weeks ago
Andrea BrownTo Jen RahnIt’s a train, an old-fashioned steam locomotive.
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2 weeks ago
Jen RahnThank you!

I can see I now.
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Bruce LellmanTo Jen RahnThanks, now I can't not see farm equipment under a streetlamp.
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A tiny depot.
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Bamboo is plentiful and is still used for many things. A most versatile plant.
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Oil palms don't get much taller than these before they die. And at this stage of their lives they host lots of ferns.
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Rubber trees on the right. They lose most of their leaves in the winter even though it's still super hot.
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Young oil palms in the foreground and the old ones behind.
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You never know when you will see the next unexplained thing when cycling.
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John Solem“You'll Never Walk Alone is perhaps the most famous song in football, and is heard before kick-off at every Liverpool match at Anfield.” 🤷🏼‍♂️
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Bruce LellmanTo John SolemHow on earth do you know this?
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John SolemTo Bruce LellmanProbably from watching “Ted Lasso” ???
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Jen RahnTo John SolemBrilliant!

Just looked this up on YouTube and remembered that I chose the Elvis Presley version of this song to be in the playlist for my dad's memorial service in 2004.
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A really big dipterocarpus.
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People tie ribbons around the base of really big trees as a way of honoring them.
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And here we thought we had been in Asia for nearly three months.
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It was beastly hot once again and we were within a couple of miles of where we had marked a possible place to stay the night but we were parched.  We stopped and stared at a place that we couldn't quite figure out if it was a house or a restaurant.  All we wanted was something to drink.  We got closer and finally saw a sign in Thai and normally houses don't have big signs.  It was actually a pretty cool place with lots of tables in the back right along a small river.  Right next to it was a swinging bridge for pedestrians.  As we drank our refreshments we looked at the map and realized that it was a good thing we had stopped there because we had to take that swinging bridge to get to where we wanted to be.  Had we continued on we would have gone in a completely wrong direction and we never do that!!

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We had refreshments here. This place had kind of a wild west theme going, which is always a bit weird.
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Scott AndersonEven better than a monitor lizard.
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It was interesting that this swinging bridge was by far the most direct way into the town across the river, but only for pedestrians and maybe motorbikes.
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The bridge was in poor shape so we walked our bikes over it.  Then, immediately we were in the small town of Sawi.  It seemed like a nice little town but rather closed up because it was Saturday.  The resort we were headed for was a bit outside of town in the middle of oil palms which meant that we needed to eat something before we got there because once there we knew we wouldn't want to leave.  We were beat from the heat.  We did find just the kind of restaurant we love; basic.  It was great.  

We love these very Thai, very humble little restaurants.
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These restaurants always serve good basic Thai dishes. And they always bring you ice in a cup and the water is on the table.
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I doubt this plate meant anything to the cook other than the fact that it was just another plate.
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Then we found Palm View Resort and got the last bungalow they had available - Saturday, a busy day.  We were lucky.  We often feel lucky.  I mean, how can a person not feel lucky when riding a bike and there are so many butterflies you have to dodge them and think how lucky the butterflies feel for me having dodged them!  I feel extremely lucky to not have tangled with a live snake or a two meter long water monitor lizard.  I also feel lucky to have seen a whole bus load of middle-aged Thai women smiling and laughing and acting like kids.  They are lucky and they know it also.

Another beautiful bungalow, this time in the middle of an oil palm forest. These bungalows average around $15, up considerably in only one year's time.
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lovebruce

Today's ride: 31 miles (50 km)
Total: 1,122 miles (1,806 km)

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Ron SuchanekYou could be like Rick Steves, but instead of Rick Steves Europe it would be called Bruce Lellman's Thailand Breakfast Buffets. Brilliant!
Man, my creative juices are flowing ...
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Bruce LellmanTo Ron SuchanekSomething is certainly flowing. But, yes, brilliant. The main thing is that I’d be rich.
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Ron SuchanekTo Bruce LellmanYou would! And remember your friends, especially those of us who believed in your idea from the very beginning, and who were instrumental in the iconic name.
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