The Journey Set In....Cement - Unchained Melody - CycleBlaze

February 7, 2024

The Journey Set In....Cement

Chai Ya to Surat Thani

Baan Suan Palm Resort just outside of Chai Ya. Strange looking bungalows but really modern and beautiful inside. We were on the blue side and Anna and Gerrit were orange.
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The Journey Set In.... Cement

We would have stayed a second night in our brand new, classy, modern, cheap bungalow in the beautiful countryside but there was no wifi and our Thai data plan with our phones was not working well or not at all either.  We were behind on our journal and I wanted to catch up.  These are some of the problems we encounter.  Sometimes I have just uploaded 30 photos and then I get a message on my computer monitor that I'm not connected to the internet any longer.  Why did it wait until I supposedly had all the photos uploaded to tell me that basically the photos would not survive.  It's very frustrating and it is not uncommon to lose 45 minutes of work. 

One of the other problems we have encountered is that the person in charge of the resort is not helpful in the least in technical expertise.  Andrea thought that simply turning off the router and then back on would possibly fix the problem but the woman in charge of the resort (not the owner) was from the countryside and didn't know or really care because as far as she was concerned we were living in luxury even if we didn't have wifi.  And she's right to a large extent.   

So, we had to leave a bungalow we would have loved to have stayed in another day and night.  (The owner needs to read this!)  I wanted to explore the town some more as well.  And, finally, there was that woman who fried the perfect bananas.  But we left and I immediately saw a flattened snake on the road that I'm pretty sure was a Malayan Krait, the venom of which contains a deadly neurotoxin.  A bite from a Malayan Krait and you would have a terrible death.  You wouldn't be able to move, see or talk but otherwise you would be totally aware for as many as four hours - totally aware that you would die.  Within four hours your lungs would be paralyzed. . Maybe it was best we were moving on to the rather large city of Surat Thani.

We were again on lovely little roads through mostly oil palms.  You must be getting tired of us saying this but we are not getting tired of riding on these roads.  They are dreamy little things.  We were savoring the ride because it was essentially our last day of significant riding for this, our fifth bike trip in SE Asia.  We were heading to Surat Thani and once there, and after a day or two, we would have to ride out to the railway station, (round trip 32 kilometers or 20 miles), simply to find out the details of transporting our bikes to Bangkok.  Then we will have to ride out to the train station again when we actually take the train to Bangkok on the 11th.  We had never been to Surat Thani so we wanted some time to explore the town and it would be Chinese New Year as well so we didn't know what we would encounter.

Another big Thai bus for you to ponder.
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We weren't bemoaning the fact that our riding was about done because we have had such a wonderful trip.  But it wasn't over yet.   We were still enjoying the peacefulness of small cement roads and the enormous spiders hanging at head level over the ditches having affixed their webs from power lines!  We did have to enter the larger highway 4112 for a few miles but it wasn't very busy.

This is a massive web four or more meters wide and strung to the power lines above!
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A huge spider and her pantry maybe?
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Bill ShaneyfeltAn orbweaver of some kind.

https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/47552-Argiope
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2 months ago
An especially nice crematory.
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Normally we never see monks doing actual work so this monk gets two photos in our journal.
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Jen RahnNice colour coordination!
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2 months ago
Bruce LellmanAndrea has a whole pannier full of different colored shirts. When we approach a bridge she stops and digs through her pannier and puts on the appropriate color shirt to go with the color of the bridge. I doubt many other cyclists are so particular or precise.
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2 months ago
Andrea BrownTo Jen RahnUm, yeah, what Bruce said. Definitely.
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2 months ago
Ron SuchanekTo Bruce LellmanI never noticed that, but I'm very impressed. It probably takes a lot of storage, and is a pain in the neck, but totally worth it. I'm gonna give it a shot this summer, only instead of color-matching bridges, I'm gonna match my shirts to the color of the surrounding evergreens.
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo Ron SuchanekYou might be able to get the color so perfect that you disappear in the photos. That would be cool.
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1 month ago
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Then we saw the sign for Saline Hot Springs but we didn't enter that road.  Hot springs were not something on our minds even though we had talked to a young French couple touring on bikes who had gone there and recommended it.  Andrea especially has been so hot this entire trip that her mind shut down when she heard 'hot springs'.  I think you also need to do something like that on your off day, not on the day you are riding to a destination.  I'm sure they are a wonderful experience.  They are a natural hot springs.  The French couple said that when you get out of the water the air seems cool.   I have never gotten out of water so hot that the 'Feels Like' air temperature of 100 would feel cool.  So, there is that fun new experience to it!  

These were drying in the sun but we have no idea what they are used for.
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Karen PoretPerhaps for Palm Sunday ( a bit early, though..)
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2 months ago
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 After thinking about hot water making the air feel cool for a couple of miles we came upon a scoured out area in the red clay and dirt, a place the Thais call Grand Canyon Tha Chang.  It's a quarry of sorts and is more of an eyesore than anything, not to mention the garbage that has been dumped at its edges.  To mention 'Grand Canyon' is the biggest exaggeration, misrepresentation and ultimate insult in the history of the universe, and possibly worse than that.  It's possibly the most awful thing I have seen on this trip in regards to destruction of the natural landscape.  It's a big scar on the land.  It should be called The Grand Scar, or, The Grand Si Daeng Scar, (The Grand Red Scar).  We have seen a lot of such scars on the land in Laos and in Vietnam as well but normally the Thais treat the land a little tiny bit better.  Not in this case though.  If you are in the area you should make an effort to NOT see The Grand Scar in order to not have to think about why the Thais would do such a thing and then call it The Grand Canyon.  OK, I'm done with my rant now.

The "Grand Canyon?"
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The only good thing about it was that I looked down and there at my feet was a lovely passion flower blooming in the red clay powder.  I've never seen a passion flower over here and it was certainly odd to find one amidst all the destruction of the land.  Always something good, even in a catastrophe like the quarry Tha Chang. 

But, in the midst of all the destruction and red dust.....a passion flower.
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We then got off 4112 onto a very small road that would eventually link us up with another small cement road, 2007 which would take us all the way into Surat Thani. These two roads were really a joy to ride because we again felt like we were actually on bike paths and not real roads for cars and trucks.  We enjoyed the whimsicalness of all the various paw prints in the cement road.  There were lots of dog prints but also cats, roosters and even unidentified ones.  No one had tried to smooth them out while the cement was wet and I'm glad because they were wonderful.  Grasses hung over the road and bounced their ripe seed head shadows across the paw prints.  To be the final few miles of an amazing trip through SE Asia I couldn't have asked for a more fun way to be ending it.  The experiences we have had on this trip are setting up in our memories much the way the journey of the animals was set in cement - memories that won't be smoothed over or forgotten.  

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When the 2007 did start to get busy, as we approached the outer outskirts of Surat Thani, we stopped for Cha Yen, (Thai iced tea) at a small stand by the road.  There are Thai iced teas and then there was this Thai iced tea which seemed to be just a bit better than most.  As we were enjoying it the Swedes rode up and once again our paths crossed.  It had happened so many times that we were not even surprised anymore.  We talked for a bit.  I told them about the flattened Malayan Krait and Anna told me that she had talked to someone who told her that often the rubber tree sap is collected at night, for some reason.  There were so many snake bites that there was concern that possibly the snakes really like living under rubber trees for some reason.  Or, at least they like hunting there at night.  I had read that Kraits of all kinds are pretty much nocturnal.  You know....if my job was a collector of rubber tree sap I would not be doing it at night.  My thinking is that probably those people are so poor that they have day jobs and have to collect the sap at night.  Sheesh!  

We talked with Anna and Gerrit a bit more but I saw that there was a nearby 7-Eleven and noticed they were edging themselves in that direction ever so slowly - their "guilty pleasure" taking over.  But we had to get going.  It was starting to get really hot.

The cha yen (Thai iced tea) stand.
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When I go home I'm going to put one of these in my front yard.
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Jen RahnI'm going to hold you to this!

Can't wait to see it. Maybe it will keep the predators away from your pond?

Waitaminute .. you *do* have fish in your pond, right? Or am I totally misremembering that?
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2 months ago
Bruce LellmanTo Jen RahnI hope there are still fish in my pond. I wasn't there to see how thick the ice got on it. I doubt it would have frozen all the way to the bottom though.
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2 months ago
Rich FrasierMuch more of a statement than a pink flamingo. I approve heartily. :)
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo Rich FrasierYes, STATEMENT is what I'm all about! The problem is that I think I'd have to buy the thing here and ship it to the States. That might cost a bit. But it would be so cool, until it got graffitied or stolen. But if it got stolen then maybe I could have my 15 minutes of fame on the local TV news. It could become a saga, epic even, with everyone looking for the giant rooster.
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1 month ago
Rich FrasierTo Bruce LellmanIt's gratifying to see that you've thought this through so carefully. :)

I guess you're back now, and since Scott didn't mention transporting your giant chicken from the airport, you didn't buy one. I'll keep my hopes up for your next visit to Thailand!
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo Rich FrasierBut we could have shipped it. You never know.
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1 month ago

We rode through a final blast of tall coconut palms and over a bridge and suddenly we were in the rather large city of Surat Thani.  Andrea was feeling dizzy from the heat so we stopped and had some lunch in Chinatown.  We went to a place we thought was serving pad siew but it turned out it was a Chinese version of it and it was absolutely delicious - pork with egg noodles and some gai lan thrown in too.  We loved it but Andrea was still a bit dizzy and in need of finding our hotel which, fortunately, was nearby.  The Rajthani Hotel front counter staff were super efficient and nice.  Right away I knew we were going to love staying there for three nights.  As the elevator doors were closing we saw Anna and Gerrit rolling their bikes in as well.  Unbelievable how often we have chosen the same roads, restaurants, hotels, resorts, etc.  The only place we haven't met is at the coffee dispenser at a 7-Eleven.  We have yet to try 7-Eleven coffee but they are not the first to tell us that it is pretty good.

Wires are not my friends.
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Jen RahnI'm channeling Mr. Grumby in this comment..

Floyd the barber on the Andy Griffith Show would ask, "Well, if they're not your friends, whose friends are they?"
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2 months ago
Bruce LellmanTo Jen RahnThat's funny. I had forgotten about Floyd.

Well, currently, the lines are friends with electricity.
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2 months ago
Palm trees are my friends.
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Chinese egg noodles with roasted pork and gai lon.
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Drying sticky rice steam baskets.
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Drying chopsticks.
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At the Rajthani Hotel.
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Jen RahnLittle soaps! Little soaps!
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2 months ago
Bruce LellmanTo Jen RahnYes, ever since we entered Thailand there have been little soaps. Vietnam, maybe but they did provide some crappy disposable razors and toothbrushes. Cambodia, never. Laos, for sure never.
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2 months ago
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John SolemHa! Floor and ceiling -- all yours!
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2 months ago
Bruce LellmanTo John SolemExactly. I should have written underneath, "Oh, and have a nice day."
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2 months ago
Karen PoretIf you cannot touch the wall, how did the person who put the note on it do this? I am sure “do not touch” is poor English misrepresented as something else. I know..Google it! ;)
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2 months ago
Bruce LellmanOh wow, I just did a translate on this sign and it says, "Do not touch the wall, the paint is not yet dry." Makes total sense now but why didn't they finish the translation to English I wonder.
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2 months ago

The Rajthani Hotel is in Surat Thani's Chinatown and Chinese New Year pre-celebrations were happening all around our hotel.  There was a thirty meter Kwan Yin statue in front of one of the biggest Chinese temples in the city just two doors down.  From our windows we had a great view of Kwan Yin.  A half a block away was a little street completely decked out with colorful streamers above the entire street and food vendors lining each side.  On the wide waterfront promenade there were decorations being made.  Everything and everyone seemed festive.  We hadn't known beforehand that we were going to be staying in Chinatown nor did we know how many Chinese there were living in Surat Thani.  But seeing the festiveness all around us we got excited about seeing what exactly was going to happen.  We have had Chinese New Year busts in the past, (Ranong 2015 on our first bike trip.), but this felt different.  

We ate some tray food on that colorful street and besides the sewer odor inundating the area where we were eating, it was great!  I must say, smelling the sewer while eating is about as appetite-killing as anything imaginable.  The food was good however and the festive atmosphere rose above the stink.  All was good on our last day of riding in southern Thailand and for us a new city awaited exploration.

A Hokkien Shrine
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These guys - newly painted and gussied up.
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Not sure what all this means but those are definitely peacock feathers in the rear.
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The festive street before the food stalls came to line both sides.
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We ordered some of the yellowish ones on top of rice.
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This is one of the things I love about Thailand - little tables taking over streets.
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lovebruce

Today's ride: 26 miles (42 km)
Total: 1,227 miles (1,975 km)

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