Published: February 23rd 2007February 22nd 2007
This it it Folks!
This is Hua Hin. A great place for people-watching, to get caught in a tourist-trap, to pay crazy prices. To see Europeans at their worst - and to get that dream-wife you've always wanted to put on show back at home!
Day 265, 20th February
Don Tum - Samut - Songkhram - Khao Yoi
The sun rose bright red above the palms. We had survived our tiger encounter, luckily. We quickly packed our soaking tents and followed the dusty track back onto the road, narrowly missing a bike-helmet-sized land turtle on the way. Although it was early the humidity level from the jungle was immense and we were soaked with sweat by the time we found the first place to eat, a cheap roadside café.
We ordered ‘Khau-phat’ with eggs and veggies. The owner of the café spoke some English and confirmed to me that it was not uncommon for tigers to be seen in the jungles nearby - apparently they stray over from Burma which isn’t far away. We silently tucked into one of the best meals yet and I noticed too that my chilli-habit is still not under control. There’s always a little bowl on each table of vinegary chillies, just sitting there, red and green ones, small and cute, just yelling out to me “Eat me! Eat me!” But only I can hear them. I lose self-control and just gorge the lot of them, then grab
Andy in Hua Hin
Sitting on the balcony of "SUKWILAI" (how do you pronounce that!) Hostel, just chillin.
the ones from the next table, and the next….knowing only too well that I’ll regret it and end up having an arse like a blood orange in the morning!
We continued southwards to the coast to meet highway 34, this is the road that the other guys should be on, maybe we’ll meet them? On the way, Stephane had a puncture and we stopped at a friendly café while he repaired it. The café owner gave us a plate of strange looking but tasty fruit to eat. It would give us the energy to continue…
The road remained busy throughout the day until we joined highway 4, this is now the highway that with take us all the way south down the isthmus to Malaysia via Ranong, which I reckon is now about 4 - 5 days away. We ate again at Khao Yoi, then continued a short while to a kind of truck-stop place with loads of shops and cafes on the opposite side of the road. Going west from here we noticed a new road under construction. Past knowledge has told us that these places can lead to great free-camping spots and this was no exception.
100 Baht notes
The two different 100 Baht note designs circulating.
The track led into a sparsely forested area where the ground was very flat and dry. There were also loads of thorns that put the fear of God into Stephane whose bike has thin road-racing tyres. And to add to this, there was no tree around to secure his Cannondale bike to. However, after searching for a while he found one next to lumpy ground where he pitched tent…
Today, personally, I have spent my 200th day on my bike since setting out from England at the beginning of June last year. Having done over 12,000 miles since then, that averages out at about 60 miles per day for this trip. Rory had previously worked out that when we reached 10,000 miles, that represented I think 15 million rotations of the pedal crank which is 30 million knee movements. Where’s my “Deep Heat” cream!
Total Miles: 12105.85 Todays Miles: 83.38 Average speed: 13.8 Time on bike: 6:00
Day 266, 21st February
Khao Yoi - Phetburi - Cha Am - Hua Hin
Stephane was up before me packing. It was a good sleep I had last night under the half-moon, lying in my tent with
Pictures of the Thai King abound - but what is he doing with his nose?
just the fly-sheet on, seeing the stars twinkling through it, wondering if I’ll ever take this lifestyle for granted. I know that when I’m back at home reading this journal, it will bring back lovely memories and make me want to get back out there in the natural surroundings.
I packed up my stuff as the sun was rising fast, Stephane would be another half-hour, so I headed off to the cafes by the main road to have breakfast and watch the traffic pass. I see “whities” on the buses, asleep, on their way some place south of Bangkok, and in a way I feel a bit sorry for what they’re missing out on - like a tiger chewing your balls off! On the other hand, I feel priviliged to be able to travel like I’m doing at this moment in my life.
When Stephane arrived I was busy tucking into a second plate of khao-phat and chillies, and beginning to feel the worse for it. We carried on southwards and beyond Phetburi my energy levels were getting very low indeed - I had that RAF feeling (rough as fuck). It was only after Cha Am that we
Hua Hin waterfront
Looks quite idyllic in parts, especially with these traditional fishing boats.
began to see the sea and what en-mass tourism attracts: huge high-rise condominiums and the death of local services. I slowly plodded along past all this crap in a headwind for 50 miles till we arrived in Hua Hin.
Now, I’ve seen some tourist traps in my life, but this one was the tackiest and the best one yet. A place that caters for the overweight and aged European single gentleman who love to date young Asian babes - and it was sad to watch it. Despite this, we needed to rest and checked into Sukwilai Guest House, a little wooden place off a sidestreet which was cheap at 150 Baht a night for a twin room with fan. We’d been searching ages before finding this place, all the others wanted between 250-300.
After settling into the room I explored the place. Along the beachfront, wooden buildings jut out into the sea on stilts. There is a narrow street that passes the Hilton Hotel and a street of seedy bars where the young prozzies and fat German blokes hang out. By chance, I met an English couple who were sitting in armchairs overlooking the seedy proceedings. They told
Route part 1
From my journal...
me that here the beers are at supermarket prices and that you can relax and watch the carnival of terrors pass by. This ended up being my favourite place to ‘people-watch’. Later on, I met up with a young German guy named Ole who was backpacking. I asked where in Germany he came from, “Near Bremen” he said. “Where near Bremen”? I asked. “Oh, a little town, you won’t know it - it’s called Vechta” he said. “Ah yes. Is Eddies Stübschen and the Banana Bar still in Münster Strasse”? I said, much to his amazement. “How do you know that”? asked Ole…. I had to tell him that I studied for six months there in 2000 for my uni studies. This led to a great friendship, many beers, and an evening of conversation in both German and English….
Total Miles: 12155.95 Todays Miles: 50.10 Average speed: 11.6 Time on bike: 4:19
Day 267, 22nd February
Stephane took his bike to be repaired today, he’s having his whole wheel re-built with stronger spokes. I had to repair my rear rack with a six-inch nail because it had fractured in a critical place. I spent
Route part 2
From my journal...
the day chillin and eating salad and mayonaisse with lots of salt to replenish my body’s salt deficiency. I also decided to wash my dirty clothes which ended up turning the water black! I wrote some postcards and some letters. Then had a disasterous experience while emailing…again! There must be some kind of energy emitting out from me that freaks out computers. After writing a letter to Kathryn for an hour the computer just crashed!!!
Stephane arrived back later in the day complaining that the bike-repair man didn’t understand him and had only fitted a single spoke instead of all of them. So, we have to stay another night. He’s off to see some Thai Boxing tonight, I’d like to see this too but I’m afraid to say that money is short, really short…hmmm So, I went off to my bar in Seedy Street and sat in the sad-guys armchair drinking beer to gawp at the strange scene passing by me…it’s like this okay - from what I can gather there are several different types of tourist parading the streets here:
1. THE PACKAGE TOURIST.
They see the brochure at home, go to their travel agent, book
Route part 3
From my journal...
the trip, fly here, all is done for this middle-aged couple. They wander down Seedy Street in their ill-fitting tropical print T-shirts and shorts looking bemused and bewildered, quite innocently.
2. THE YOUNG COUPLE.
Very naïve. Their first trip together as a couple, probably. The do all the same kind of stuff the package-tourist does, but, deep down each one is probably thinking, “Shit, I wish I’d come here alone. Look at all these nice guys/girls I could have shagged”!
3. THE EX-PAT.
Usually a European type. And usually a man who has moved out to Thailand to be with a Thai girl, owning a bar, pimping, or all three… These guys just lurk! They’re creepy. Some of them ride around on mopeds, up and down the street, with their trophy ornament sitting on the back - a young Thai woman!
4. THE DISILLUSIONED BACKPACKER.
These guys fit into a few categories of their own actually. They seem to think they should be here, but don’t quite fit into the scene actually. Some are real poser and just do the de-rigeur backpacker stuff like buying tie-dyed clothes, ethnic stuff, and getting tattooed with strange un-trendy designs. Then there are the backpackers with the hefty packs on, these usually come in twos. They just don’t fit in at all and look bewildered with the thought; “What the fuck am I doing in this shit hole”!?
5. THE BIG FAT DISGUSTING LOOKING GERMAN BASTARD.
Yes, I’m sorry for the language, but it’s true. These mega-obese excuses for humans come in one size - massive! And come in many women - usually young, pretty, Thai girls looking for a sugar-daddy. Well, if I were on the pull I’d be right pissed off cos these fatties can pull gorgeous girls and I can’t! But, in reality…when you see a big lardy fat obese bastard holding hands with someone as young as his grand-daughter…well, there’s something wrong don’t you think?
6. THE WOLF PACK.
A group of either middle-aged or young drunken guys on the prowl. They wander round without talking to eachother, just looking, looking for prey, something or someone with a pulse or backbone - they’d shag it!
7. THE WEIRDO.
A rare species. The weirdo is usually middle-aged, has long permed hair, and a strange rapist-like look in his eyes. He just roams the streets oblivious that everyone has sussed him out already. Even the prostitutes avoid the weirdo - is that a big knife in his pocket or is he just pleased to see me?
8. ME !
Where does that leave me? What the hell am I doing in this crazy place, I’m sure somebody is categorizing me. I am the sad guy who sits alone writing in a gay-looking book whilst everyone else is having a brill time… Hmmm, no, I don’t think so, nor do I think I’m above anyone else here. I suppose I’m just an observer, observing only what I see, nobody else. I enjoy it only for myself. I the past three hours I’ve been sitting here an old Swedish guy stopped by and chatted with me. He told me an interesting story about his life during the second world war. Even though Sweden was neutral, he had some great tales to tell about encounters with the German army. I gained more talking to this one guy that I ever would talking to many of the other people here, I think. Does one attract like-minded peopl? I think so… Like the guy from Vechta yesterday, we saw something in eachother…strange.
Later on, another strange thing happened while I supped the last of my beer. A casting guy from Bangkok Film Studios approached me and asked if I wanted to be an extra in the Thai re-make of “The King and I”, called “Renaissance”. Twice in a lifetime can’t be bad, so I accepted and volunteered Stephane, too. We would get 700 Baht a day and had to ready for an early start in the morning. Wow! Much needed money arrives in the most un-expected ways. And I thought I’d have to pimp my ring on the streets of Hua Hin!