Surat Thani to Sichon – 80 km
The weather on the island of Koh Pha Ngan was monsoon of a timid nature, with the presence of grey clouds and rain only lasting an hour at most. We were really pleased as it meant my brother was shown some typical Thai (hot!) weather, rather than being reminiscent of drizzly England. Now, back on the mainland, we were eager to get back on the bikes, and as we cycled away merrily from Surat Thani, the brightness of the morning dimmed, and it rained. An hour later, it was still raining.
Arriving wet and soggy, a lovely guesthouse awaited us in Sichon where some local Thai people were holidaying on the beach (in the rain).
Sichon to Nakhon Si Thammarat (Hotel Passion) – 72 km
Will’s notes: Didn’t rain. Wohoo. Then when we got to our destination, it has barely stopped raining. City is a bit shite. But got new bottle and cage from bike shop and our ‘Bike for Dad’ t-shirts.
The ‘Bike for Dad’ or ‘Cycle for the King’ is a national celebration across Thailand to mark the King’s 88th birthday, with the incentive to get everybody, young and old, out on their bicycles. This followed the success of the ‘Bike for Mum’ to commemorate the Queen’s birthday earlier in the year. Donning the trademark yellow and blue t-shirts and pedalling around on our touring bikes made Will and I very popular cyclists.
Will’s notes above pretty much sum up the day. The hotel was all what we needed – clean, London-themed, and shelter from the monsoon – though the Thai cleaner was very keen to interrupt Will while he was showering so she could unblock the sink. I had to hold her back.
Nakhon to Phattelung (Holiday hotel) – 108 km
We were presented with some awesome landscapes of the karsts as we reached the end of our cycle after pushing out some big miles under a heavy heat. Though we still couldn’t resist messing around with the camera when we saw an apt photo opportunity.
Today, we discovered that a pot of jam is easy to carry; and bread and jam are a cycle touring delight.
Phattelung to Highway Police Booth (Rattaphum) – 90 km
Before leaving Phattelung, we headed to the great lake (that looks like the sea!). With today’s destination a little sketchy, we reached around 90km when we thought it was about time to ask some local shopkeepers whether they knew where the nearest hotel was. One lady gestured to Will but to explain how happy she was with the bucket of fish she had caught. While I watched a snake wiggle a path up a tree, Will pedalled back to inform me we were to follow a man in a truck who would lead the way! I was a little perplexed when we arrived at a school. So was the headmistress. After a little more hand signalling, we were directed to the Highway Police Station. Thanking the locals who went out of their way to help us, we cycled to the bamboo shack opposite to shelter under a darkening sky (the rain was imminent). Will entertained the ladies who owned the cafe when trying to order a drink by pointing at the picture of the drink, nodding and smiling, pointing at picture, giving thumbs up, tapping the picture, etc… only for them to fall about laughing.
We pushed our bikes over to the Police Station to ask the officers whether they knew where the nearest hotel was. They pointed at the room a few metres from where we stood. Turns out, the Highway Police offer booths that are a welcome stop for cyclists! With free accommodation and a free buffet dinner, we were as happy to stumble across this place as the Thai officers were to host us.
Many photos were taken, and we were encouraged profusely to write in their ‘Guestbook’: all pages were blank and we were the first to write in it. We reflected on our good luck and are so grateful to the Highway Police in Thailand.
Rattaphum to Tammalang Pier (Satun) – 88 km
We left the Highway Police booth after some more photos, many smiles and many waves. With that extra spring in our step, the hills of the day seemed far more manageable, and we arrived at Satun mid-morning with enough time to reach the pier and leave the country. Though we didn’t want to leave, we needed to take a short trip to Malaysia, where we could return with fresh 30-day visas for Thailand. With tickets for the 2 of us and our 2-wheeling cargo, we hopped onto the ferry, and an hour later, we were in Langkawi.
A trip to Langkawi to re-new our visas
Our time in Langkawi encompassed building snowmen in the sand (it was December after all), cycling around the island to Shark bay beach and Oriental village, and enjoying some tasty cheap street-eats.
With greater hills than any we have yet climbed, we considered this part of our hill training. Though highly impressed with the island’s agenda to ‘Keep Langkawi Clean’, we were missing the smiles of Thailand; the offer of ‘shark-fin soup’ on this Malaysian island was certainly not enthusing us to stay any longer. Let’s get back to Thailand!
Posted by Lindsay