I’m a freshwater fish - Unchained Melody - CycleBlaze

January 29, 2024 to January 31, 2024

I’m a freshwater fish

Three days at Thung Wua Laen Beach

Dear little friends,

It’s pretty evident that we have entered the indolent stage of our trip. Okay, the MORE indolent stage of our trip. RideWithGPS sent me a monthly statement of our ride history for January and we rode 17 days out of 31! Oddly, I don’t feel shamed by that. It’s my January and I’ll loaf if I want to.

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Hitting Thung Wua Laen Beach on a Monday after several stormy days was… interesting. Let’s just say there were no throngs anywhere. It wasn’t deserted, there seems to be a contingent of foreigners that more or less stay there all winter, to each their own. A German guy next to us said that he went to Krabi and “the islands” (Koh Samui, Koh Phangnan, etc.) and they were full. He would arrive on an island and there would be ONE open room for fifty dollars! He said “fifty dollars” like Seinfeld says “Hello, Newman” only louder. Yes, I know fifty dollars won’t get you into a broken RV behind the Legion Club in the states but here that’s a lot to pay for a bungalow no matter how many towels it comes with.

Our guesthouse comes with an impressive spirit house complex too.
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So he ended up next door to us in our 600 baht room on a quiet beach where the seaweed was still resting after getting tossed up post-storms. The water was clean, the waves got quieter each day as the moon tides mellowed out and afternoon clouds diminished.

The sea was still rough when we first got there.
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Hey, not bad for a 600 baht ($17) room.
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These are a different variety of coconuts, more yellow than the typical ones.
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That sign made me laugh every time we passed it.
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It’s a nice place and I was happy to be there. Happy not to be on overcrowded expensive islands where the dissipated go to rest from all the debauchery on the last island. Happy that from my porch chair I couldn’t really see the plastic nestled in the seaweed on the beach. On our last day the hotel maids went out with rakes and made little piles, which some guy came along and buried in holes in the sand. Welp, that takes care of that! Did anybody fish the plastic out? Nope. That’s a problem for the next rainy season/high tide. 

I must say that I’m a complete landlubber/inlander. I didn’t even see an ocean until I was 16 years old. I live in Oregon and only go to the coast if out-of-towners want to go there. The coast in Oregon is dramatic and beautiful and windy and cold. It might be 105 in Portland but 47 at the beach in the middle of July with a gale force sandy wind scouring the hair from your legs. I grew up leaping into Montana crystalline lakes and streams so cold that you turn blue after 15 seconds, listening to gentle lapping at the water’s edge or rushing water over colorful rocks. I’m a freshwater fish.

It’s not really different for me at a warm beach either. The breezes kept me from dying of heat even in the afternoon, the coconut palms shaded our porch in a pleasing way, I was not hiding inside with the air-con blasting. But my skin feels horrible and my hair! My hair is a disaster between the wind, the humidity, and the salt spray. Short of swaddling it in a bandanna it’s just a frizzy gross mess all the time.

My hair is still demure from my shower, in a few minutes it'll be like the Bride of Frankenstein's.
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This must sound like so much annoying whining while my friends and family are in chilly rainy or freezing winter climates. But I really was enjoying the beautiful palms, the birds, the waves. The sea is our mother, and when the mists cleared along the horizon I could see far out to where the curve starts. It’s astounding to think of this planet of ours covered with deep salt water, home to creatures and plants and mystery. I enjoy watching kids and grownups playing along the edge of the water, picking up things, dunking each other, I even enjoy all the selfies and posing for photos.

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All over Thailand, Wednesdays are "Scout Day" and most students seem to be in Boy/Girl Scouts. They wear uniforms I haven't seen since the 60s in the USA. Here they are on a hike down the beach, we're not sure what the flagpoles are for. If they want to earn a badge from me they could stop and clean up the beach.
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We rode our bikes back into “town” to pick up more papayas and mangoes and bananas, to go to the market and sit in a mildewed plastic chair and have caphe bolan, to try to break a 1000 baht bill, ($28.58), in a convenience store. Let me tell you, if you try to pay for a restaurant meal or some oranges in Thailand with one of those 1k bills that the bank or ATM always gives you, you will be waiting a while as your cook will shake her head in existential despair and then go running to the neighbors after ransacking her purse and her husband’s pockets. 7-Eleven is the only place you can break 1000 baht with no eye-rolling or comment when buying a 12 baht box of soymilk.

We bought coffee from this gal a year ago, she's still as bubbly and charming as she was last year. And her coffee is amazing.
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Ron SuchanekSo many people you see every trip over there!
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2 weeks ago
Café Bolan is brewed in the pot on the left, the coffee goes into the 'tung' (cloth bag), hot water is poured over it. Thai coffee has some extra ingredients in it and has sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk too. The stove below keeps a constant supply of hot water at the ready.
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The last day at the beach we finally left our porch and went swimming. The water was balmy and clear, the waves not too high. I say swimming but I don’t really swim in the ocean, I bob up and down with the waves and keep my feet firmly on the sand otherwise. I also am the eyes for Bruce because he doesn’t have his glasses on, so I was the one that spotted a large white jellyfish coming between us. It was cleverly disguised to look like just another plastic bag but then it noticed us and swam away at top speed which gave it away. Neither of us felt like getting stung and now I would have to be less carefree than I had been so it was time to pretend we were bodysurfing  as we returned to shore.

Yesterday it was a bud, today it's a bloom. I planted some of these in my flower bed last season, they came up but had no flowers. Maybe this year.
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I know there are nearby places that are excellent for snorkeling and diving, where corals and whale sharks and such live. That would be fun, maybe I’ll do that sometime. 

At dark we walked down to the water’s edge. Orion’s belt was low on the horizon, other friendly stars said hello. I never get to see stars anymore, it was fun. I nearly tip over trying to say hi back. It’s a good thing Bruce is here to steady me as I lean back on shifting sands. Otherwise the curve of the earth might get me.

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Today's ride: 5 miles (8 km)
Total: 1,069 miles (1,720 km)

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Ron SuchanekI'm with you. I appreciate the beauty of our PNW coastline, am neutral about warm weather beaches, but can take them or leave them. Mountains and desert for me. And I hate what humidity does to my hair as well.
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2 weeks ago
Rachael AndersonWhat a great day!
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2 weeks ago