Back to the Land of Smiles

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Tamalang Pier to Thung Yao

Today we couldn’t stop smiling. It started off a good day as we were leaving the Malaysian island of Langkawi (or what we now refer to as Skankawi) and we were heading back to Thailand. Away from the island that resembles a building site, where the locals don’t smile or wave frantically, and where the motorists can’t be trusted. However, Langkawi served its purpose. We went there so we could swiftly come back into Thailand with fresh 30-day visas. Back to Thailand where the smiles, waves and shouts of “Hello!” are never ending, and where the drivers of all vehicles pass you with lots of space.

The moment we stepped off the ferry and feet firmly back on Thai soil, we were instantly greeted with smiles. Within minutes of cycling away from the pier, we were being welcomed back into the Land of the Smiles. And we could not stop smiling and waving back.

The route took us back into Satun and then north towards Trang. The rolling hills and smooth tarmac took us past countless number of smiling locals.

fresh fruit cycle touring Thailand

We stopped for fresh fruit along the way from the street vendors in the middle of nowhere, a few coffee stops and of course our beloved 7-Eleven. As we started late with the ferry dropping us off at 10am, we ended up cycling through blistering midday heat, and into the ever-so-slightly cooler afternoon. We had about 115km to ride today but it felt easy and a joy. Mostly due to the constantly happy and waving Thais.

Just as we were about to settle for the Highway Police Station as our place to rest our heads, we turned a corner to find an amazing hotel in a small town called Thung Yao – Cupid Hotel – all shiny with lots of glass: it looked like luxury. We were almost going to dismiss it as out of our budget and not even both asking the price, but out of curiosity (and exhaustion), we asked anyway. To our absolute surprise, it was no more than we paid for the grotty guesthouse we stayed in the night before on that grotty island.

After checking in at around 5pm, we showered and walked into town in search of food. We found an outdoor café, playing lively music full of locals, ordered a coconut shake and chicken fried rice – possibly the most delicious meal we have had so far.

This was the perfect end to a perfect day. It will be hard to beat. It will be known as out perfect day from now on.

Tamalang Pier to Thung Yao cycle route strava
Tamalang Pier to Thung Yao cycle route – 114.6km

Thung Yao to Pak Meng

Today started in good spirits after yesterday. However, the weather was hot and humid and felt heavy. As we tend to do on shorter days (85km), we raced on with fewer stops and ultimately started feeling tired by midday as the heat drained more energy from us. Just in time, we were waved down by a man and woman wearing some sort of official uniform.

Happy Thai Officials cycle touring Thailand

Though a little startled to be flagged down by officers, we happily stopped, and all they wanted was photos with us. So we snapped away and then rode off full of energy, quickly reminded of how infectious happiness is. Sweaty, hot and tired but carrying all that energy and happiness that is so common throughout Thailand.

cycle touring Thailand

Thung Yao to Hat Pak Meng cycle route strava
Thung Yao to Hat Pak Meng cycle route – 87.4km

Pak Meng to Ao Nang

Today we pushed on 120km to our destination in Krabi. With an early start and plenty of stops for food and water, these distances are actually fairly easy. We also knew that our legs would get a rest the next day as we would relax in Ao Nang for a couple of nights.

Hat Pak Meng to Ao Rang cycle route strava
Hat Pak Meng to Ao Rang cycle route – 120.2km

Ao Nang to Phang Nga

After our rest day, we were already eager to get back in the saddle. A scenic start down the coast from Ao Nang, and just round the corner from the busy tourist areas, we found the coast to be even more beautiful – probably due to lack of tourists and no one trying to sell us suits!

Krabi Romantic Road Thailand

The road snaked just away from the coast and slalomed through the giant limestone rock karsts that are scattered all along this stretch of the West coast. We cycled up and over the ‘Krabi Romantic Road’ and past the ‘Cliff of Love’. Quite apt considering where we would end up staying the night…

Krabi Romantic Road Thailand cycle touring

Our first stop of the day is usually aimed at a 7-Eleven we find. Today was no different and I wandered around in search of treats for the day. Walking out, another cycle tourist was chatting to Lindsay, and moments later another 3 turned up! 7-Eleven, it seems, must be the target for all weary legs. After chatting and exchanging our plans of adventure, we all set off heading the same way. We cycled most of the remainder of our journey with an Aussie whose destination was England. It was a good job we didn’t finish the ride with him and search for a hostel together…

Lindsay and I pulled into a guesthouse she had spotted. We bargained for a room and saw a sign with the numbers 300 in it, so assumed this would be the rate for the night. But the lady wanted 400! Lindsay had a look at the room and came back smiling saying it smelt really nice. I responded jokingly with “of course it does, they have to spray fragrance to get rid of other smells…it’s probably a sex hotel!”

We unloaded our panniers from our bikes, and as we settled in, realised there was a gift on the bedside table. Some free protection. It was 300 baht per hour!

Thai head protection cycle touring

Ao Nang to Phang Nag cycle route strava
Ao Nang to Phang Nag cycle route – 94.5km

Phang Nga to Khao Lak

Hopefully, as we left the hotel this morning, the lady in charge was thinking “wow, they needed all night!”

The ride today was to Khao Lak: our destination for Christmas.

The road was brilliant, and as the distance wasn’t that long, it meant that I could try and blast up the all the hills along the way knowing that it didn’t really matter if I blew my legs out on the climbs as it was a short day.

The final hill before Khao Lak was a steep road but then looked out to the beautiful sea below, where we would celebrate Christmas, and learn another new sport – scuba diving!

Phang Nga to Khan Lak cycle route strava
Phang Nga to Khao Lak cycle route – 59.5km

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