Worrying for nothing - Unchained Melody - CycleBlaze

January 31, 2024

Worrying for nothing

Si Sa Ket to Prang Ku

Dear little friends,

I guess I was feeling shot after our noisy highway ride from Ubon Ratchathani. I guess we thought we’d do a lot of exploring in Si Sa Ket. We took a day off, which I DID need, but the exploring was a bit of a bust, for two reasons.

Reason one: winter is over. It’s hard to believe that on December 26 I was the only person in the breakfast buffet room in short sleeves and shorts, everybody else was in full parka/jacket/socks/shoes mode. Well, Bruce was wearing shorts but he had long sleeves on. And it was chilly! But that’s gone, we’re back to 70 degree mornings (yay!) and 92 degree afternoons (boooo, double booooooooo). It’s true that the humidity is not at poisonous Saigon levels but I’m still sweating, so annoying. I can’t take a walk down the street without ending up obscenely sweaty.

Reason two: New Year’s is taken quite seriously in these parts. Yes, Thai New Year is their REAL new year, and Lunar New Year in February is a serious runnerup but idly looking at train schedules I saw a stern warning to book wayyyyyyy ahead between December 30 and January 3. Well, we weren’t taking any trains, how bad could it be? Then I remembered last year on New Year’s. We barely managed a sleeper train from Chiang Mai, we booked our hotel ahead so had a room, all good. But our neighborhood in Bangkok was rolled up like a burrito, you would never have known it was a bustling food and shopping area.

So, when we sweated our way around Si Sa Ket we discovered that apart from the very busy and very, um, rustic market there was very little open, I mean, when you can’t find coffee in Thailand it has to be New Year’s weekend. We did find some, eventually.

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There's a bird's nest in this mass of wires.
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Si Saket Central Market
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A line of lottery ticket sellers at the market.
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Ron SuchanekAre these "official" lottery tickets, or does some guy name Phil print them in his basement with no winners? (Although that's kinda what the lottery is here)
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo Ron SuchanekI had the same thought, different name but same thought.
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1 month ago
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Pickled things.
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Often popular drinks are made early in the morning, ahead of time. When people buy them they always want them in crushed ice so this is a quick and efficient way to do it.
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Wat Liab Buraparam, Si Saket, Thailand.
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Time to get moving. We cast off early and rode on a buttercream-smooth new asphalt highway shoulder for 15 miles with the world’s perfect tail wind behind us. A mile or so before our turnoff we reached the construction part of this perfection and hit the dirt, which immediately caused Bruce’s belt drive to start complaining. What a fussbudget that belt is. 

We rode on this hard-packed section of road construction and it was fine. Only a mile or two.
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The turnoff would be the very first small Thai road of the trip and it was delightful, except that there was a surprising amount of traffic on it! Where are all these people coming and going to and from? Well, I guess to grandmother’s house for New Year’s. So that started to cause us some anxiety about our potential accommodations. Would they be full? Would all of them be full? Do people stay in little country resorts for New Year’s? We had no idea. 

Lots of eucalyptus trees have been planted along the roads in this part of Thailand creating quite a bit of shade.
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Bruce was having flashbacks to a NYE gone very wrong in Sihanoukville, Cambodia in 2008. We have years of traveling together but if you want to depress us you remind us of that incident. I’m not going to retell the story, but we ended up in a safe place and then left the next morning on the first bus. 

We stopped for an iced coffee to calm ourselves down.

The Smoothie Cafe was great. Nice people and good coffee.
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There were lots of plants growing down from upside down pots at the Smoothie Cafe. Someone had a green thumb there. The plants were all beautiful.
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It was 10:30 am and my daughter Facetimed me so I could see my three grandkids having a fun pajama dance-off. On my end there were people playing music down the lane from the coffee area, party music. And in fact we had been seeing all sorts of set-ups in these villages for the night’s festivities. One thing we knew for sure: it was going to be LOUD. And the other thing we knew, it was going to be party-hearty, and there would be drunk drivers on the road. Every year at the various new years the news shows would have footage of gory car accidents and tut-tut about it.

The other thing we were seeing was the checkpoints that the police were setting up to combat the holiday gore-fest ahead. These consisted of some red and white bollards and a stern sign, and off to the side a tent with some chairs and various people in uniform drinking coffee and playing with their phones. We saw dozens of these but failed to note anybody even slowing down as they went through the checkpoints. There were no police cars to chase down drunk drivers. It made no sense. But perhaps at night they were actually stopping and checking drivers. That is unclear to us because we definitely were not going to be on the road after dark.

The first place we looked at had a room, we chucked our bags and ourselves inside and felt very lucky. There were no bars or venues nearby, although there was some pretty bad karaoke drifting over the rice fields. The traffic was increasing. We showered, laundered, napped, felt safe and lucky. The resort was definitely not full, we had been worrying for nothing. Take note.

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Our room at Padaya Guest House
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You want to make your place edgy? A few spots of black spray paint on the mirror and you are officially edgy. Hang up those worn out brooms on the wall and it would be even more edgy.
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Scott AndersonBeautiful shot. It should hang in a modern art gallery.
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1 month ago

The folks there made us some food, we had a lovely early dinner, crawled into bed by 7 (or at least I did, Bruce probably stayed up later), heard some firecrackers at midnight, no big deal, went back to sleep. My favorite New Year event is to sleep through it all and wake up with a new year ahead and no hangover, no car wrecks, no litter, no noise, and a nice day of riding ahead. So I got my wish.

New Year's Eve
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Jen RahnI'm taking a screenshot of this and saving it with our January photos.

You look mahvelous!

And happy. 🌞
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1 month ago
Our fancy spread on a heart-shaped table: fried rice with an egg on top, water, and a bucket o' ice.
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Today's ride: 30 miles (48 km)
Total: 628 miles (1,011 km)

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Rachael AndersonI’m glad you had a better day! I with you on sleeping through New Year’s Eve events.
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1 month ago
Bo LeeHappy New Year! So glad you found a soft landing place!
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1 month ago
Cornelia SchulzHappy New Year to both of you. I‘m impressed by your bravery! I really, really enjoy reading about your adventures! The way you write about your trip is so direct I can literally feel the heat although I’m in the Austrian Alpes right now surrounded by snow. However your journal keeps awake far too late because I can’t stop reading . But now, as I caught up and read the last entry, I can turn off the light and say good night. Stay safe!!
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo Cornelia SchulzHappy New Year, Cornelia. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment. Doing a journal like this every day is a lot of work but when people like you enjoy it, and let us know that you enjoy it, all the work it takes is worthwhile. Have fun in the Alps!
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo Bo LeeHappy New Year, Bo and Gregg.
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1 month ago
Jen RahnTo Rachael AndersonYes!!

I had earplugs in this year and heard nearly nothing.

My favorite sound to bring in the new year.
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1 month ago