Surrounded by cows, coconuts, fishermen - Unchained Melody - CycleBlaze

January 22, 2024

Surrounded by cows, coconuts, fishermen

Green Beach Resort to Ban Krut

Dear little friends,

I’m a pretty terrible sleeper. I’m pretty good at falling asleep, usually the lights are still on and Bruce tap-tapping away on his laptop next to me, no problem. It’s STAYING asleep that’s the problem. I get too hot, I get too cold, I wake up at 1am for absolutely no reason. It’s not strange and I don’t get too upset about it. This night it was light pollution. The wide portico in front of our place was lit up like Broadway, and while our blackout curtains blocked most of the light, it still slid in at the top and glowed at the ceiling. The air conditioner also had a bright blue light on it.

I crept out of bed, found the a/c remote, held my phone up to it for light and found a button that said “sleep”. The blue light went out. The glow from outside remained. 

The other thing I was awake about was our routing for today. 

Yesterday we had to be on Petchkasem Road (Highway 4) and it’s a pretty miserable experience even though we were only on it for 7 or 8 miles. This part of the coast has some parallel smaller roads but they’re a real patchwork and it would take some doing to stay off the highway while still traveling south. I ended up marking all the turns we needed to make on Google maps and then going back to sleep.

5 am seemed to come almost immediately. We look outside and it’s still pitch dark and still except for koels and roosters. Nobody is up, right? Yeah, that’s just an illusion, no matter how early we get up, by the time we emerge from our room Thailand is a-bustle. We ate our muesli and papaya on the porch and watched the sky over the sea flaunt some pink and orange color. The women who work for the resort were up heating water for coffee and walking around doing mysterious things.

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We declined the resort coffee and khanom on offer and rolled out the dirt/sand road and back to the paved road and started our day of wending hither and yon. Looking at the satellite view of this area had revealed several large complexes of houses that were too large to be resort bungalows. Each compound had names like “Orchid 1”, “Orchid 2”, “Coconut 4”, “Lotus 5” and so on. One of them had a school, and clicking on the school’s map icon showed photos of only white children, most of them blonde.

This could only mean one thing: Swedes.

What was our first clue that this was a Swedish enclave?
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Ah, yes.
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All of these compounds had identical styling, which reminds me that when playing GeoGuessr you can always tell you're in Sweden because all of the houses are either red or yellow.
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The night before we kept seeing foreigner after foreigner on motorbikes or sidecar things. It was really strange, because this is a fairly remote area, there are some resorts but not that many, what was the deal?

These are pretty luxurious houses for Thailand.
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A couple of miles in we started passing these compounds. Every person that lives in them is Swedish as far as we can tell. White-haired or blonde people were out walking in a vigorous, get-yer-workout fashion. Some carried yoga mats. A few were on bikes. Honestly, it was giving us the creeps. The houses were all pretty much the same, the landscaping new but pretty sterile, all gated and fenced and spotless. It was a little Twilight Zone except that it was in Thailand, surrounded by coconuts, cows, fishermen. Lots and lots of coconut groves. 

100% certain this guy is from Sweden.
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Two large plots on either side of the road were being cleared for yet more compounds.

Look, I get it. I wouldn’t want to live in Sweden in the winter either, it’s like Minnesota and I would never willingly be there either if I could help it. But it’s a mystery to me how all of these Swedish people set up these very expensive looking colonies in Thailand. I mean, foreigners can’t even OWN property in Thailand. They can marry a Thai and their spouse can own it but other than that there are only long-term leases. It doesn’t seem very Swedish to put up an expensive house on land you will never own, and the Thai government could change title laws at the next election.

I hope these communities are helping locals and creating good things for the economy. But it felt weird.

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Eventually we wended our way out of Orchid/Lotus/Stepford Wives Land. We had to cross the railroad line 3 or 4 times, sometimes with a pant-pant flyover, sometimes with a bridge. We got up onto the bridge and looked down and saw there was still a ground level crossing, so that was annoying. 

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We remember when traffic police sat in these. Either we are getting old or things deteriorate quickly in SE Asia. I'm pretty sure it isn't that we are getting old.
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The daily turning of the little fish drying in the sun. An all Burmese workforce here.
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So now we're out of Swede-land but entering Alien Beings Land? Do they have their own school too?
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Jen RahnAliens, indeed!

Those heads are too large and misshapen to be human.

Puzzling, though, is the skirt. I never have thought at aliens as skirt-wearing beings (???)
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3 weeks ago
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A cute bridge.
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Another broken dreams resort, now all closed up probably due to lack of tourists.
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An interesting way to try to prevent erosion.
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This rest pavilion which we have sat in previously, has fallen to sea level rise and its eroding effects.
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Attempts to glam up Thai Sakae's beach area seem to be faltering.
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This must be the "bridge" they are talking about saving. If so, there is not much left to be saved.
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This is a nice newish house. Notice that the modern roof design has taken it to a whole new level by creatively slanting in three directions.
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It was time for an iced coffee and we stopped at “On My Way”, a little green shack next to one of my mapped turns. Once we turned south from there no more navigating would be needed, the road would take us to Ban Krut. There was one last railroad crossing and this one had a flyover AND a sign leading to a level crossing which turned out to be false news, a brand new fence roped us out. Flyover it was. It was getting really hot, the sun was intense.

On My Way Coffee
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Drinks come in hot, iced, or shake.
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Surprise! Two other cycle tourists were also being fooled by Google directions, we stopped and chatted with them, they were friendly Newfoundlers just starting their tour. They were undecided about the flyover so we left them in the dust and started climbing up and over, figuring they would overtake us in seconds given that they looked like fit and active cyclists whereas we look like, well, never mind what we look like.

They didn’t catch us though and we entered Ban Krut and found a resort that had those little wooden bungalows that we like or at least think we like. They have gone out of style, mostly for pragmatic reasons, the wood shrinks, there are cracks, mosquitos and little ants live in them. Ours was darling but had a really really really bad case of sewer gas in the bathroom that even running the fan constantly could not quench. It’s too bad. 

These wooden bungalows are doomed by time, but they sure are cute.
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This one is still in pretty good shape inside, and clean as a whistle. We have a "little ants all over the place" index for guesthouses and while this one isn't the worst we've seen (4000 Islands FTW) we still put all food in the fridge. But, hey, it had a fridge.
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It was 11:30 and too hot to do anything else but shower, wash clothes, hang them in the melting sun, look over at a pool that also had seen better days but the pigeons seemed to like it just fine, go back inside, and nap. The wifi sucked which puts a damper on photo uploading with Bruce’s laptop. Napping won the afternoon.

Is that a hammerhead shark?
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Eventually we cruised down the beach for dinner at a place we ate at last year, the cook is amazing, whipping up two completely different kinds of dishes simultaneously and in the wink of an eyelash, serving them up hot, and retiring back to her chair. Her assistant chopped up limes and waved at pals driving by.

My pad siew.
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Ban Krut was really hopping 9 years ago but it seems far more subdued these days. There are still plenty of tourists and they all come out after the sun sets but it seems pretty tame. Not so the nearby karaoke bar that had a thumping bass that started at 2 pm and ended at, yes, 1:35 am. How do I know this? Because I was awake of course.

Today's ride: 26 miles (42 km)
Total: 980 miles (1,577 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 11
Comment on this entry Comment 4
Karen PoretAndrea, Try wearing eye shades..I have three pair. I Can’t go to sleep without them even when our shades are closed and all lights are off. The company name is Bucky.. Hope this helps! ( there are several styles and thicknesses to choose from) Karen
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4 weeks ago
Gregory GarceauI'm 1/2 Swede and a diehard Minnesotan. I can't imagine a REAL Swede settling down in such a sweltering hot climate for the winter. Of course, I know there are plenty of Minnesotans who go to Florida, Texas and Arizona during this time of year. To each their own, I suppose, but I don't get it.
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4 weeks ago
Bruce LellmanTo Gregory GarceauI'm too independent to understand wanting to settle down in a community of fellow countrypersons in a foreign country. I mean, how much interaction are they really going to have with other people? How much of the language will they ever learn? How much culture will they absorb? It's just weird to me. That's why it almost seemed cult-like.
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3 weeks ago
Andrea BrownTo Gregory GarceauBruce is part Swedish too. I think he was more weirded out than I was, to be honest. I have a lot of questions about gated communities of rich(er) foreigners in a still-developing country, especially in an impoverished area like this was. I thought Thailand was pretty careful about property acquisition law, so this is especially weird.
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3 weeks ago