Winding Down - Unchained Melody - CycleBlaze

February 10, 2024

Winding Down

Surat Thani to Phunphin

Winding Down

The Rajthani Hotel, in central Surat Thani, is one of the best run hotels we have ever stayed in.  The staff was attentive to every detail to make our stay perfect.  They even let us keep our bikes in the lobby/breakfast area overnight each night.   On this day we checked out early in the day not exactly because we wanted to but because once again we wanted to ride before the heat of the day.  

The elevator shuffle. We always have to move fast to get all of our panniers into elevators, along with ourselves, before the buzzers go off. This is as we were leaving the Rajthani Hotel.
Heart 4 Comment 0

It was just ten miles (16 kilometers) to the town, Phunphin, whose name kept reminding me of the town, Khin Pun, tucked into the forest at the base of the hills leading up to the Golden Rock in Burma.  The two are separated by not that many kilometers, as the hornbill flies, but are worlds apart in culture and purpose.  Phunphin's fame, if there is any fame involved in being a surrogate, train stationwise, for Surat Thani, is not the fame that comes from the miraculous balancing of an enormous boulder on the edge of a cliff which, of course, makes for a major Buddhist pilgrimage site.  Although a train station could be considered a pilgrimage site of sorts.  Both attract crowds.    

Phunphin may have been only ten miles away but it was our last day of riding which made for a bittersweet ride.  The busy highway on this New Year's Day was much less busy than two days earlier, which was nice.  On the way I wondered how it could be that pedaling my fully loaded bike felt exactly as it had two days earlier when it was carrying nothing.  I'm not sure how that works but it's not a bad deal really, just an odd thing to contemplate on the way.

You are looking at one of the most dangerous things on roads in Thailand - The Grab Guy. They, and other delivery motorbike guys, go too fast and take unbelievably dangerous chances cutting way too closely. They will suddenly roar onto sidewalks to cut corners and avoid red lights. They are my most hated thing on the road.
Heart 2 Comment 0
It's the end of the line.
Heart 3 Comment 0

We checked into the Queen Hotel and found our room to be surprisingly nice, modern, stylish, cheap @ 500 Baht or $14 and with a nice view of downtown Phunphin.  

I love and appreciate well made terrazzo floors and I've never seen such beautiful ones as there are in Thailand. The Queen Hotel in Phunphin had the most beautiful terrazzo stairs. Even the railing was terrazzo!
Heart 1 Comment 0
The Queen Hotel in Phunphin.
Heart 2 Comment 0
For some unknown reason the Queen Hotel put these strips of "grass" alongside the hallways. We saw guests had left their shoes on them in the morning but that still didn't explain anything.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Downtown Phunphin
Heart 2 Comment 0

We went looking for lunch and found a bustling restaurant with the New Year's special - roasted duck on rice.  Chicken on rice - "Chicken Rice" - is a fairly common dish in Thailand.  There is a special sweet and garlicky sauce that you pour over the pieces of tender deboned chicken meat and the rice is a specific variety that is slightly shorter, stickier and sweeter.  It's always guaranteed to be a tasty meal but we had never had the duck version.  It turned out that Duck Rice was quite wonderful as well.

Hmmm....Duck Rice
Heart 4 Comment 0
Heart 1 Comment 0

Then Andrea went back to our room and I went off to see what I could find at the central market.  I was surprised to find most businesses open in Phunphin.  When I thought a little more about it though it made sense.  It was a totally Thai town and they were back to normal business.  Duck Rice, yes, but other than that there wasn't much left of Chinese New Year in Phunphin.  

At the market I was looking for, and found, some roasted peanuts to munch on on the next day's train trip.   I also bought some slabs of sesame brittle and two beautiful mangoes, ($1), for our last in-our-room breakfast.  We had already found a really beautiful cup of coffee just around the corner from Queen Hotel - A Kwan Coffee where we would return before we boarded the train in the morning.

Heart 1 Comment 0
Heart 3 Comment 0
Heart 4 Comment 0
I'd be happier if all the letters were intact.
Heart 4 Comment 0
I love these older buses with all of their showy silver metal. The insides are always stainless steel shiny metal across the ceilings and a lot of other places too. They are not seen as much anymore which is a shame. They are beautifully designed.
Heart 3 Comment 0

 In the late afternoon we left our bikes in the hands of workers in the "Parcels Office.  For some reason the price we had been quoted had doubled but was still reasonable @$4.50 for each bike.  Fees seem to fluctuate wildly when it comes to bikes on trains, we have found.  

Okay Air Tags, do your job. It's a bit unsettling to walk away from our unlocked bikes but rail workers seem to really respect people's property and want to do their jobs well without getting any complaints.
Heart 1 Comment 0

We found dinner at a restaurant across from the train station.  It was really feeling like our trip was coming to an end with the bikes on the move and not in our possession anymore.  Unsettling, but nowhere near as unsettling as if we didn't have the Air Tags on the bikes.  The feeling I was having might be sort of similar to when you send a child off to college!  You wipe your hands and say,  "Well, she's out of my hands now, on her own. All I can do is hope for the best."  You can tell that I never had kids, comparing a bike on a train to a child going to college! 

Around 10PM our Air Tags told us that the bikes were on the move on the night Parcels Train to Bangkok.  It would travel slowly and was scheduled to arrive in Bangkok only about three hours before us. I was not really looking forward to the next day's train ride of nine hours but it would be in the daylight and we would be able to relive our route south to some extent.  That might be fun.  Other than that the trip felt like it was winding down, inevitable of course, but still a bit sad.  

In downtown Phunphin
Heart 6 Comment 0

lovebruce

Today's ride: 10 miles (16 km)
Total: 1,257 miles (2,023 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 9
Comment on this entry Comment 2
Steve Miller/GrampiesDodie says: I worry more about sending the bikes off alone than about a kid leaving home. At least with the kids we felt that we had done our best to prepare them to face the world and could rely on them to handle most things they might encounter. With the bikes, on the other hand, we are reliant on others to keep them safe and bring them to the journeys end relatively intact.
Reply to this comment
1 month ago
Andrea BrownTo Steve Miller/GrampiesThat was definitely our feeling at first too. But we've done three of those parcel train gigs so far and they've all been perfectly fine. There are few countries I would consent to do this in but in Thailand, well, so far so good. But honestly, the AirTags really really help our peace of mind.
Reply to this comment
1 month ago