Everyday - A New Adventure - Unchained Melody - CycleBlaze

February 6, 2024

Everyday - A New Adventure

Had Lamae Beach to Chaiya

The view from our bungalow. Squid fishing boats reluctant to call it a night.
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Everyday - A New Adventure

Sometimes we just want to leave quickly in the morning even if the place we stayed was great, which, often it is.  The heat is the incentive to get going.  The most enjoyable temperature of the day is for about an hour or two after sunrise.  The humidity makes even that time period pretty soggy.  My glasses even fog up at times!

This morning we had our normal fruit/muesli breakfast on our porch in the pitch dark.  The green lights at sea on the horizon told us the squid fishing boats were still at it and the seine fishing guys in shallow water were already at it as well.  The evening before, the resort owner had waved her hand in the vicinity of the coffee area and said, "Breakfast tomorrow."  We ate and were all packed up but there was no indication anyone was awake over there.  We also had been the only guests staying the night so we were pretty convinced there wasn't going to be "breakfast" of any sort, simply the coffee mix packets.  We swung by that area to get our allotment of coffee mix packets to take with us and then we left quickly.  

Just after our breakfast and just before we loaded our bikes.
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View from our bungalow.
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The view from our bungalow.
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We were beating it down the road in the relative coolness with the three resort dogs happily padding along on an early morning adventure when I looked over at Andrea and I said, "Where's your helmet?"  She had a moment's freak out but then I saw that it was resting on her rear rack as if it, too, had hopped on for the adventure.  All was well as we rode on the beautiful smooth road along the ocean, not another vehicle anywhere.  A beautiful morning and good that we left ten minutes before sunrise for our adventure.

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Jen RahnI love these morning 'beam me over' scenes.
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1 week ago
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We eventually had to go a little inland due to roads that led to the beach but were dead ends.  We could stay off the big highway, however, and continued to ride quiet little winding roads through oil palms and coconut palms.  You may be getting tired of hearing about oil palms day after day but we were really starting to appreciate oil palms like never before.  They cool their surroundings and also provide us with a lot of shade.  We did eventually have to get on the 4112 for a few miles all the way to the town of Tha Chana.  The 4112 isn't the busiest road in the world but still a bit noisy compared to what we had been riding on.  

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Tiny houses are the craze in America but they have been going on over here for a very long time.
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Ron SuchanekIf Scott will pony up and buy that house, you guys will have a nice vacation place.
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1 week ago
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Jen RahnIs that a dog up ahead in the road?

The shape is not entirely dog-like, and that's the only thing my brain can come up with.
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1 week ago
Andrea BrownTo Jen RahnYes. They sleep on the road after a long night of mischief.
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1 week ago
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You know you are on a quiet, unused road when the left turn lane looks like this.
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Oil palm left - rubber trees right.
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In Tha Chana I walked through the market looking, and finding, some roasted peanuts.  We love the roasted peanuts in Thailand and always try to have a small bag of them on hand to munch on in our room in the evenings.  I also bought some tiny bananas and had somewhat of a conversation with the older woman who sold them to me.  She wanted to know where I lived and I inadvertently told her I live on my bicycle.  She was confused and gave me a look of 'just another weird foreigner'.  I told her what our route had been and that we had been riding for nearly three months but she didn't seem to care that much or she didn't understand.  Most people we tell what our route has been have an incredulous look.  At first they can't believe it but they keep looking at our bikes and eventually it sinks in.  Maybe it's when they look at us that they really can't believe it.  Sometimes they ask how old I am.  

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We had sort of planned on staying the night in Tha Chana and it would have been a nice place I'm sure but it was too early for us to stop for the day, I thought.  We had made good time and we were likely to keep going for another fifteen miles but we decided to discuss it down the road a mile or two at "Millions."  I had scoped out what looked to be a very modern and good looking fancy coffee place on the way out of town called "Millions."   

We found Millions but didn't realize it was right across the train tracks from an enormous rocky formation sticking straight up hundreds of meters even blotting out the sun.  It had quite the presence and resembled Devil's Tower in the States a little bit.  Behind it were more big rocky hills and valleys, the entire area crying out to be named a national park.  We had never seen photos of it or heard anyone talk about it ever.  This is the way things are sometimes in these SE Asian countries.  I think there are so many amazing things that they can't all be talked about.  You just have to stumble on some and, of course, that makes them all the more special and it really does feel like an adventure.  For this place though I couldn't believe there hadn't been a climbing community that had sprung up yet.  Or, there should be trails in the jungly clefts between the mountains.  The whole area viewed perfectly from Millions was awe inspiring.  

Approaching Millions
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Ron SuchanekWow that's amazing!
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I ordered iced lattes at Millions and then we went up to the rooftop viewing area.  As we sat up there and drank our most excellent coffees the sun peeked around one side of the massive mountain and we moved over to another part of the rooftop viewing area to stay in the shade.  Then a very short train went flying past.  It had only three cars and looking at the time, 9:46AM, and considering we were only about 45 miles from the Surat Thani train station we realized it was the train we were going to be on in just a few days.  We also realized that our bikes would NOT be on that train because it was too short and too express!  We have done this before!   The bikes were most likely going to have to take the "Parcels" train to Bangkok.  It was a harsh realization but it worked out last time when we went from Bangkok to Hua Hin to begin the southern portion of our adventure so it will probably work out on the return to Bangkok.  It's just more of a hassle and a bit of a worry.  But, once again, we were very happy we had air tags on the bikes in a secret location cleverly sealed inside rear reflectors mounted on our seat posts.  Being able to track the bikes does relieve a certain amount of stress, quite a bit actually.  What an ingenious invention air tags are as well as the reflector to house them on the bikes!  Both were well worth purchasing.

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The rooftop of Millions.
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Jen RahnBeam me over!
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1 week ago
The camera wasn't accepting the extreme contrast so I didn't get any good photos of the mountain from Millions. It would be gorgeous in the afternoon sunlight.
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After we left Millions the sunlight on this was much better.
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After we told the maker of our lattes they were some of the finest of our trip we were back on small roads through more oil palms and coconut palms with cows under them unaware that they could be conked on the head at any moment.  Maybe it's best that cows never look up.

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This man and I had somewhat of a conversation in Thai. Somewhat!
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At one curve a man standing in front of his house didn't say hello but instead, "Beway tha cah."  He said it twice so I was sure I got it.  He was concerned, as a lot of Thais have been, for our safety.  Beware of the cars, of course.  I think there are actually a lot of road accidents in Thailand, possibly one of the worst countries in the world in fact, but we have been lucky I guess.  We have had mostly incredibly courteous drivers, way more so than in our own country.  I don't think the Thais realize how courteous their compatriots are when it comes to dodging foreigners with loaded bikes. Thais driving around other Thais have a completely different reality about the hazards than we do. They cannot understand how considerate almost all of the Thais are with foreigners so they can't understand our opinion.  But, we are always "beway tha cah" and I thanked him for cautioning us.

On a related note, we have both been frustrated by slow drivers of cars and pickups.  Thais are often ultra cautious and will turn a corner in slow motion or park going one mile an hour.  It drives us nuts because they are hazards by going too slowly.  Often they do not have their blinkers on so we don't know what they are up to but they sure are doing it in slow motion.  They can hold up traffic and create jams simply because of slowness!  I mean, I appreciate their cautiousness but sometimes I feel they are using their vehicles as places to view (gawk at) us from.  100% of Thai vehicles have super tinted windows and we cannot see inside whatsoever.  So, we think they are getting an eyeful of us!  Who knows what they are doing or thinking inside their cars.  We often just want them to speed up whatever they are doing.  It's the opposite from Vietnam where we definitely did have to beware of their speed at which they do everything.

I had stopped to take a photo of a barcalounger sitting under a rusting structure at an intersection.  I mean, it was just weird.  I wanted to go sit in it and have Andrea take my photo but she wouldn't.   It only took me a minute to take the photo but in that time period three vehicles slowed down to a mile an hour or stopped altogether to find out what I was doing.  One pickup stopped and a guy rolled down his window and wanted to know what I needed!  I've had this problem all my life.  People don't get why I take the photos I take.  When something like this happens I remember the line from Wes Anderson's film, Darjeeling Limited, when Jack, (Jason Schwartzman), says to his brothers, "Stop including me!"  It was just a barcalounger under a rusting corrugated metal roof!  What's the big deal?!

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Jen RahnI love this photo!

And this is my first encounter with the word 'barcalounger'.

It sounds cool and is fun to say!
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There really was only one place we considered staying at, in or near the town of Chaiya.  As we entered the town I saw what looked like delicious deep fat fried bananas which I had to have.  The woman making them had also made some French fry shaped sweet potatoes too.  A mixed bag, so to speak!  So, that made me happy right away in Chaiya because they were delicious.  

As we rode through Chaiya I saw how cute it was.  The train station, right in the middle of town, was adorable.  We rode through the entire town and out the southern end and found our guest house, Baan Suan Palm Resort, another resort in the midst of oil palms, perfect.  There was also rice growing in the area, the first green rice we have seen in a long time.  Once settled in our really super nice, brand new bungalow I headed off to what looked like a major temple complex nearby; Wat Phra Borommathat Chaiya. 

The temple featured an ornate chedi (stupa) supposedly twelve hundred years old.  But, since Chaiya is one of the oldest cities in Thailand it probably is pretty old.  The temple, (probably only the chedi) was built during the Siwichai Empire of which I know nothing about.  The chedi is in the Sivijaya style which came directly from India so the temple was first a Hindu temple and when Buddhism became the dominant religion in Thailand the temple was converted to a Buddhist temple.  The same thing happened to Angkor Wat.  At any rate, the most wonderful thing about the temple was the gallery surrounding the chedi.  The gallery was lined with old Buddha statues.  There must have been well over a hundred and they all were quite beautiful.  I started taking closeups of faces and ended up with about forty interesting photos; Buddha portraits.  

The temple complex is behind these amazing trees.
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Wat Phra Borommathat Chaiya.
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The chedi, or, stupa is almost always placed directly behind the main viharn (temple).
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Meanwhile, just outside the only entrance to the chedi and its surrounding gallery of Buddhas were several monks doing some sort of project and making a big mess on the stone floor.  There was a lot of laughing and joking around.  When I left the gallery area I stood and watched them from afar and it turned out they were affixing a portrait of the current king on some sort of board and putting a frame around it and then mounting it in a holder that stood next to the entrance.  When doing something with the king people are supposed to be very serious with no joking.  Because the monks were having a ball I took that to mean that they couldn't care less about this king.  I'm pretty sure the vast majority of Thais feel the same way.  Monks being monks could pull off such criticism of the king without actually being critical.  They were just joking around and not joking about the king.  But I know that in the Thai way of doing things it certainly did mean that they were being critical of the king.  It was very interesting because for more than forty years I saw how Thais acted around the former king's portraits if they were tasked to do a similar job of mounting and framing a portrait.  The former king, the current king's father, was always very highly respected because he actually did lots of good for Thailand and the Thais.  This current king........

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Later we rode our bikes to the edge of town and quickly found a restaurant and of course the Swedish couple, Anna and Gerrit, we had been running into for days, were already eating there.  They had also showed up at our same resort shortly after we got there!  We sat at a nearby table and we had a lovely talk.  They are quite close to us in age and we seem to have some things in common, not only staying at the same guest houses and eating at the same restaurants.  All four of us are gardeners for one thing.  But they have cycled in many more and interesting places than we have; India for one. So I had a lot of questions.  Finally I looked around and all the other diners were gone.  We quite possibly had kept the owner from closing up her restaurant.  Thais will never actually come over and tell you that closing time was a half an hour ago.  No, never would they do that.  They always seem happy we are there having a good time and, mai pen rai - nevermind.  

After we closed down that place we all went next door to 7-Eleven.  We know how to have a good time!  Anna and Gerrit were apparently addicted to the coffee there.  They called it their "Guilty pleasure."  We always go to 7-Eleven the night before we have our own papaya/muesli breakfast because we will need a small container of soymilk called Lactasoy.  Lactasoy sponsors the cops, by the way.  We see the Lactasoy ads on the highway police precincts.  I always have to laugh about that.  

We also go to 7-Eleven for ice cream, a treat we allow ourselves if we have ridden that day.  That is our little guilty pleasure.  Maybe 7-Elevens provide guilty pleasures for millions of people everyday!  Anway, I never saw Anna and Gerrit again.  It's odd how 7-Elevens draw you in and you spin around inside, tempted by so many things and you usually find what you need and then you are spat out.  

While I was buying the ice cream and Lactasoy Andrea was outside with the bikes.  Seeing Andrea standing there, a young American woman, Julia, came running from across the street to talk because she said she never saw foreigners in Chaiya.  Her guilty pleasure, her partner, owned a leather shop across the street and she was visiting him from her home in Siem Reap, Cambodia.  I loved Julia's full-of-life personality.  When I found out she was living in Siem Reap my brain fumbled around trying to remember the name of the great restaurant we ate at in Kracheh because the owners were in the process of opening a second restaurant in Siem Reap and I wanted to tell her how good the food was.  Before either Andrea or I could come up with the name of the restaurant Julia said, "You aren't talking about Three Street are you?"  Amazingly small world!  And even more amazing was that Julia and her partner knew the owners of Three Street Eatery!  

For the first time ever the clerk at 7-Eleven took it upon herself to put our ice cream in a special reflective bag that was meant to keep things frozen.  I had never known such a thing existed and we always had to eat the ice cream sticks immediately.  But this time, the first time ever, we could talk without worry and we had a lot to talk about with Julia.  Finally we gave her one of our cards and she dug out a whole stack of her cards which were all different, all little tiny copies of paintings she had done.  She thumbed through them with a sentence or two describing each one.  I wish I had videoed it.  One was what we thought was a cat and Julia corrected us, "No, it's a dead rabbit."  One was a scary mansion which was where a neighbor lived when she was growing up. "The guy who lived there was a hoarder and he owned a big yellow station wagon and he would drive by me very slowly when I was a little kid."  Another was a lounging nude man.  "This man wanted me to paint him nude."  There were many to choose from and all were interesting.  Andrea chose the big scary hoarder's mansion!  Julia said, "OK, I've gotta get back.  If you need leather, come on over."  And she wove her way back across the street.    

So much happens in a day of traveling by bike in SE Asia.  Even in seemingly the middle of nowhere, things happen that you could never dream of happening.  Everyday,  a new adventure.

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lovebruce

Today's ride: 35 miles (56 km)
Total: 1,201 miles (1,933 km)

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Rachael AndersonI’m glad you are finding ice cream, it’s a necessity!
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1 week ago
Jen RahnI can relate to your description of the 7 Eleven experience.

Being drawn in, spun around, and spat out.

This is how I feel during many shopping experiences.

Usually I find this feeling to be unpleasant, and once in a while I can have fun with it.
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1 week ago
Cornelia SchulzFunny enough. My two guilty pleasures are coffee and ice cream as well. I had really no idea that coffee is such a thing in South East Asia. It always sounds so delicious and refreshing when you write about your coffee stops, … I can almost smell and taste the coffee here
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1 week ago
Bruce LellmanTo Jen RahnIt's funny, I never ever think of 7-Eleven when I'm home and I wonder if I've even entered one in the States! Probably not. But in Thailand there is hardly a day that goes by we don't go to 7-Eleven for either soy milk, electrolyte packets or ice cream. Occasionally we buy toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner. Although half the store is chid oriented we don't ever buy anything but these items I mentioned.
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Bruce LellmanTo Cornelia SchulzYes, it's not a part of the world one immediately thinks of great coffee but Laos produces some of the very best in the world. It all goes to Vietnam and France. Vietnam also produces great coffee and now northern Thailand does as well. All three countries produce coffee that is a little different from one another but I love all of it. I'm sure you would too. It would be so fun to sit down with you and drink some coffee and then catch up with what you and I have done for the last twenty years!
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