Play - Swim - Explore - Unchained Melody - CycleBlaze

January 29, 2024

Play - Swim - Explore

Chomlay Restaurant to Thung Wua Laen Beach

Two 7-Elevens almost directly across from each other in a very small town.
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It's ironic that the markings on this bike path are a disturbance to cyclists! The paint is so thick that the bike bumps a little too much. So, the best place is to cut him off at the waist at an angle and if you miss the arrow you will have only one bump.
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Jen RahnI would love to see a video of this clever maneuver!
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2 weeks ago

Play - Swim - Explore

We have no idea what Mr. Chomlay's name is.  We always call him Mr. Atmosphere. He uses his phone as a translation device constantly; no attempt to speak English and when I speak Thai he doesn't really respond.  He has referred to the setting of his Chomlay Restaurant (and Bungalows) as having "Good Atmosphere" so many times that we started calling him Mr. Atmosphere.  He has never told us his name and we, with Google Translate, have never asked.  He has never asked our names or anything about us.  But, after we ate his second weird but good breakfast and just before we left after four nights there, I finally told him we had ridden our bikes from Vietnam, through parts of Cambodia and Lao and then across Isaan and eventually to his place.  I added that we really appreciated the rest we got there and that we love his place.   Although he didn't react much I know he was impressed because as we were walking out of his restaurant to go to our bungalow to pack our bags I could hear him repeating our route to a couple who had stayed the night and were also eating his breakfast.  Mr. Atmosphere, man, he is one of a kind.

As we were eating breakfast Mr. Atmosphere photographed us and then said he was going to video us and wanted us to say things about his place in Thai!  I said no to that but we did awkwardly talk about his place for him, in English.  It seems that whatever we do for him he is pleased.  He told us he was honored that we had stayed at his place.  He's really a very sweet man, just odd.  But that could be said about myself as well, right?!

Breakfast at Chomlay Restaurant (and Bungalows). That's the mesh netting that cuts the wind. But in the mornings there was little wind. The second morning the owner made us breakfast he finally took down the netting so we could enjoy the view and the 'atmosphere.'
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Andrea FaceTiming with her kids and grandkids, showing them the ocean.
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Ron SuchanekHow great to be able to stay in touch like that.
It's so interesting that an app like Facebook, which can be a cesspool of vapid nonsense has such a useful integrated messaging app that allows you to video chat from anywhere. Crazy!
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2 weeks ago

We loaded up and headed out down the long dirt driveway, now with wash-outs from the intense rainfall, through the oil palm grove while Mr. Atmosphere videoed us.  He is such an odd duck that I love him.  At the same time we were finally free of worrying about how Mr. Atmosphere's feelings were going to react after every little interaction we had with him.  Seriously, Andrea and I had to stop and discuss if we should ask for new towels or if he would be hurt.  We had to discuss everything before we laid it on Mr. Atmosphere.  Should we ask for milk with our coffee or would he immediately feel his entire breakfast was a failure.  He seemed very proud of his breakfast and we needed to just eat it all and act like it was super wonderful.  But the coffee was intense and really needed milk, not just milk but sweetened condensed milk.  Would he suddenly run off to a store miles away?  No idea, but we had to discuss it first.  We had to analyse every little interaction we were going to have with him beforehand.  

On the other hand, we had lots of time there at Chomlay Restaurant (and bungalows) and debating this or that was kind of interesting.   It's not often you have to discuss whether the owner of a place will be put out if you continue to eat your own breakfasts and not accept his.   His translation app on his phone, which had a woman's voice talking to us in English, said, "Won't you have my breakfast.  It won't cost you a single penny."  I mean that's pretty charming.  Sometimes it garbled the translation so badly we had no idea what he had actually said into his phone. So, that was a bit tedious at times. 

Over night the Chomlay cat must have been fascinated by the cracking noise and feeling of destroying this waste basket. One day the dog walks in wet cement and another day the cat does this!
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After we had made our own breakfasts for two mornings we decided to take him up on his offer of breakfast for our last two mornings.  His restaurant didn't open until 10AM and that's when the workers had been showing up too so we were pretty sure Mr. Atmosphere would be the one cooking for us!  I was kind of curious as to what he would come up with.  

When he brought out the large tray of food for us he looked very nervous.  There was nothing wrong with the breakfast, just an interesting bunch of foods.  I've never eaten four weiners for breakfast and two bean paste filled bao.  It was all good except maybe the coffee.

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I was honored that the owner actually smiled for the camera. He normally never smiled.
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In the end, being in a bungalow with a billion Baht view for three days and four nights, eating great seafood at a restaurant just a hop and a skip away was fantastic but we were having to think too much about the owner's feelings all the time!  We had to move on.  

One last look from our bungalow.
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Not only was it a relief to get back on the road to escape such things but, and this is a good segway for this topic, in general I can't express well enough what an incredible feeling of freedom we get when we have been at a place, any place, even for one night, and we get up and go in the morning.  To push on our pedals and turn onto a road is pure freedom.  It's the early morning of a new day but it's not just another day, it's a whole new chapter when you are on a bike.

We don't usually know exactly what route we will take, we don't know where or if we will stop for coffee or food.  We don't have any idea what interactions we will have with the local people or if we will meet other cycle tourers or other foreigners who are not on bikes or what the weather will be like or how far we will go, let alone where we will stay the night.  It's all new!  Everything about the new day is new.  Before I had ever cycled in a foreign country it was not possible for me to know such freedom. 

We are continually seeing flowers we have never seen before.
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Anyway, back to our day.....

From Chomlay Restaurant we pulled onto Hwy. 3253 which had been completely rebuilt since a year ago.  It was now very wide and smooth. It was so wide that there was a marked off lane for motorbikes and then the shoulder which was for us.  Since there was nearly no traffic at all, who cares about motorbikes!  Who cares about cars!  I was all over that brand new smooth-as-silk road.  It was quieter than quiet because we were coming from three days of a roaring ocean.  The birdsong was incredible, plus, there was no air movement which made it all the more quiet.  Occasionally there were stretches of hard-packed gravel all set to be asphalted.  I guess that particular road is not a priority and the construction crews are taking their sweet time redoing the 3253.  But even the gravel sections were fine.  No complaints.  They are also putting in a sewer system on either side of the new road as well as shoring up river banks so they will not erode and jeopardize the new road.  It all takes time and money and since towns are few and far between in this area, I understand why they are taking their time on this road construction.  The Thais make really nice roads in the end.

Hard-packed. We had no problem with this road construction.
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This is an iconic hill which many cycle tourers have posted photos of. However it looks quite a bit different now since the highway has been widened. Construction of this road has been in pieces for some reason.
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There were some pretty rugged jungly hills in these parts.
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This entire hill has been planted with rubber trees but there is one tree up there towards the left that is not a rubber tree.
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A pretty elaborate spirit house for a oil palm plantation.
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Another typical house in the middle of rubber trees where the worker/caretaker lives. They are never very nice houses.
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We came to that waffle place where a year ago I really wanted to eat a waffle but a neighbor told us that the owners had to go away that day and were not open.  Well, same thing this year.  I was stuffed from Mr. Atmosphere's weird but good breakfast so I didn't need a waffle but "need" is not necessarily a word needed when it comes to the relation of food with myself.  I could eat a waffle and the more I thought about it the more I WANTED to eat a WAFFLE.  I mean, it looked like the older couple who owned the place made really great waffles, from photos around.  But they were closed.  It's amazing to me how it works; if you sort of want a waffle it's kind of in the back of your mind but if you CAN'T have that waffle then you really want it and it's all you can think about.  Two years in a row, no less.  It's not like I can get in my car in Portland and come to this place for a waffle any old time the owners have time to open their shop.  Instead, I had to call up my inner Buddhist and turn on non-attachment or the sub-category,' non-desire for waffle'.  I can deal with it.  No big deal.  But how could that old couple do that to me!

A lotus flower.
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If the 3253 is not part of the Royal Coast Road it basically is because it links sections of it and is the only road nearest the coast.  Near the mouth of a small river, where lots of fishing boats were moored waiting out the rough weather, we stumbled on a tiny but fancy coffee house.  Sorry, I didn't get the name and it isn't even on Google Maps yet so it must be fairly new.  For one thing it was air conditioned inside which we never find along the coast.  A young guy with, "Love Begins After Coffee", on his tee shirt had all the new coffee aparati.  I watched him making our iced lattes while on my very swively, comfortable leather swivel chair.  He was doing things I have never seen before and I knew we were in for something special.   He had to have gone to a barista school.  His place was a luxury for us as we waited.  And, yes, it was some of the best coffee we've ever had.  What a treat.  Even his straws were different - petite in circumference.   I told him, through Google Translate, where we had traveled and that his coffee was the best we have had on our trip.  I think it made him feel very good, which he should have felt!  I wanted him to feel good about his expertise.  Simple things, man, simple things in a day of riding and they can make my day...and forget about waffles.

It's been too rough to go fishing so the boats are all jammed inside the mouths of rivers.
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These frogs said they would watch my bike while we were in the coffee house if I agreed to bring them some flies. A fair deal.
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Rachael AndersonWhat a great photo!
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3 weeks ago
Janice BranhamThat's a lot of side eye coming from the character on the right.
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3 weeks ago
Bruce LellmanTo Janice BranhamI know! Some of these characters I don't exactly trust. But they were dubious that I'd be bringing them flies also.
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2 weeks ago
This guy....this guy is the real thing, a great barista. And his shop was very nice too.
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I think coffee rules everything around the owner of this coffee house. He really is into coffee and these are some of the coffee brands he probably knows and appreciates since he hung the bags on his wall.
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We were definitely on the Royal Coast Road right after the coffee stop because there was a sign stating so.  We also saw a sign for a viewpoint and we went down a little in-and-out road to the vantage point.  We often take these side trips because they make up half the interesting things we see in a day.  It was a great view and there were several platforms set up for selfie photos - big hearts and such.  I'm wondering when we will be able to say, "Remember that time when everyone was taking selfies?  That sure was a weird time."  But that time might be too far off for my liking.  Fortunately the area was deserted except for a couple of bored looking chid vendors.  (Remember, "chid" = junk food.)

Why?
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Ron SuchanekHmm. I guess that was one idea.
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2 weeks ago
Viewpoint
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Just about anywhere on the coasts of Thailand you will see something like this.
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We see a lot of these species of trees that produce these seed pods.
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Bill ShaneyfeltMaybe some kind of leadtree?

https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/47453-Leucaena
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2 weeks ago
At the viewpoint.
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At the viewpoint.
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At the viewpoint.
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There are obviously species of trees that can handle salt water. They are not necessarily mangrove because they are much bigger/taller and without those distinctive mangrove roots.
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I love roads like this in Thailand.
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We were going up a big hill when we saw a fast approaching storm.  A watermelon seller with an enormous roof saved us just in the nick of time.  The wind and rain came as soon as we were under cover next to all the piles of watermelons.  It dumped down rain so hard it was deafening on the metal roof.  We were entertained by two kittens and stayed under cover for about a half an hour.  In that half an hour I'm sure it rained more than an inch and possibly two inches.  Then it was over and we resumed our ride to the beach area - Thung Wua Laen Beach.

This is perplexing. The bike path ends but across the intersection it begins again!
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I love this sign. I wanted to steal it but I was not traveling with a hacksaw unfortunately. The reason it's so rusted is because the ocean is just on the other side of all this vegetation.
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This sign is awesome. It's art.
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Waiting out a big downpour.
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Rachael AndersonHow lucky to find this spot!
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3 weeks ago
Bruce LellmanTo Rachael AndersonYes, it was unbelievable. We pulled in and immediately the rain and wind hit.
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2 weeks ago
Waiting for the rain to stop in a watermelon warehouse.
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Huge downpour.
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These plants are everywhere in ditches. One of them reached out and slapped my hand one day. The end was all frayed from motorbikes hitting it. I didn't think anything of it but a day later my hand was all blistered. Apparently the sap of it is toxic. It took days for my hand to recover. Similar to poison ivy or poison oak.
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Before we got to the resort we were headed to, we came to the first little town we have seen in many days - Tambon Saphli.  There we went crazy buying mangoes, bananas, papayas and peanuts - things we hadn't seen in days.  We were running very low on muesli and had to supplement it with a couple of tiny packages of corn flakes and granola from 7-Eleven.  I was heading across the street to a 7-Eleven when Andrea stopped me and said, "Where are you going?"  Turns out there was another 7-Eleven right there on our side of the street that I hadn't seen because my focus was on the other one!  Such is often the case with 7-Elevens in Thailand.  Now I have to watch the clip of Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock in the film, Best in Show, because they met at Starbucks, not the same Starbucks but Starbucks across the street from each other.

So, we were set for at least three delicious breakfasts in our room.  We found Thananya Resort and made a deal for a cheaper rate.  It was Monday after all.  The room is right next to the sand and the ocean is still a bit rough and pounding.  It's right there and can't be ignored!  There will be at least two more days of not being able to hear much else but it's also nice to hear the ocean waves.  It could calm down too.  I think the rain storms have finally finished.  

The view from our room on Thung Wua Laen Beach.
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This room was perfect and so very close to the sand and great swimming. Thananya Resort at Thung Wua Laen Beach.
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Except for losing a second bungee cord and Andrea not noticing, it was another perfect day of interesting things: a major storm without a drop of rain hitting us, a viewpoint, great coffee after pretty bad coffee at breakfast, kittens and their antics and lots of beautiful fruit.  Seafood is everywhere and our bedspread has dinosaurs and message clouds - "Play - Swim - Explore!"  We could have written that.

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lovebruce

Today's ride: 29 miles (47 km)
Total: 1,064 miles (1,712 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 9
Rich FrasierGreat, now I want a waffle, too. Do you know how hard it is to get a waffle in rural France? It's going to be a long day...
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3 weeks ago
Rachael AndersonSorry you didn’t get your waffle but the cycling was great!
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3 weeks ago
Bruce LellmanTo Rachael AndersonYes, I love cycling down here. I never tire of looking at palm trees.
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2 weeks ago
Bruce LellmanTo Rich FrasierI'm so sorry I put a damper on your day. There is just something about waffles that once you start envisioning them the desire for them grows exponentially. I had no idea waffles were nowhere to be had in France. They are pretty rare here too!
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2 weeks ago
Jen RahnWhen the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

"Non-desire for waffle"!

Clearly, you embraced this Great Teaching as you shifted your attention to appreciating the talent of the barista.

Also, thank you for your kindness to Mr. Atmosphere.
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2 weeks ago
Ron SuchanekAs the Buddha said, "all pain is caused by suffering from lack of waffles."
I'm right now going to make some delicious waffles.

Also, you said "weiner".
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2 weeks ago
Bruce LellmanTo Jen RahnMy attention shifts easily over here because there are so many interesting things but coffee is a big one.
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2 weeks ago
Victa CalvoBruce
When I lose a bungee cord I always, very abruptly, find it wrapped around my rear wheel cassette.

Immensely enjoying reading your adventures. Hope you find that elusive Thai waffle someday.
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2 weeks ago
Bruce LellmanTo Victa CalvoYes, I've had that happen a couple of times too. Actually, now that I think about that, it might be better to just lose the bungee instead of the hassle of untangling it from the cassette and/or having it damage something.

Last year when I was denied the excellent looking waffle from that same place, my friends Ron and Jen had us over to their house for breakfast when we got back to the States. They made us a beautiful breakfast but then surprised us with waffles as well. They tasted so great!

Thank you for reading our journal.
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2 weeks ago