Published: March 4th 2011March 4th 2011
The rest day in bang sapan was pretty uneventful. It rained most of the day so I watched some movies on my laptop. I may be taking rest days too literally but on the days off I really don't have the energy to do much. I wondered into town a little after lunch time to get some food. There wasn't many places open. Some chocolate milk and a corn pasty from the 711 to keep the hunger away while I walked around the town looking for an open eatery. Nothing. I food a bakery and bought a french baguette stick and began eating this dry as I walked back to the hotel. Getting close to the hotel I noticed a small coffee place and went in to see if they also had some food. bingo, fish steak with some chips and salad. Wasn't sure what I had ordered. The lady had said "fissss" and I had just agreed. The baguette was put aside for dinner.
Played it safe the next morning and had breakfast at the hotel before hitting the road. Todays ride was still along the route 4 highway, more trucks. I was hoping this was the last day of highway and when route 4 turned and cut across to the west coast the road would become more rural. The map I was using described the road as an "asian road". Not sure what that meant, really bad drivers? I was expecting a ride of 100kms from the website I was following but the road signs were telling me 120km. The road signs had tended to be more accurate than the website. This was going to be along day.
The ride started with a 30 km steady climb. Given I was still fresh my mind wasn't ready to go into survival mood so it used its second escape mechanism to forget about the pain and get me up a hill, the pointless wondering story. It started off with wondering why australians use the term "random" to describe events that are in no way random. E.g. "I met my friend in the city the other day, it was completely random". No, no, no it wasn't. you both live in melbourne so the odds of it happening are very predicable. This lead on to a conversation explaining the fundamentals of statistical probability to an imaginary stranger. In particular how the odds of two distinct events happening at the same has no bearing on the over all probability of the event occurring. I still don't think he understood. Ah, the pointless wondering story. When the story ended I was on the top of the climb or possibly the other way around.
The road descended for a little bit before a 10 km climb. There was probably a story for this climb but I can't recall. After that the road took a gradual undulating descent to Chumpton. At around the 60km mark I stopped off at a service area for some food and water. There was a tour group there of elderly gentlemen and their thai brides. I couldn't work out where they were from. They said "bonjour" to me but their accents did not sound like any french accent I had heard before. The tour guide came over to me to ask some questions on their behalf. The usual questions of where I was going and where I had come from. One of the men came over, said "bonjour" and then started poking my foot with his walking stick and trying to look under my foot. I lifted up my foot to show him the cleat on the bottom of the shoe and he smiled, nodded and then said something back to his friends. They replied back. I hope he hadn't said "I bet I can hit this guys shoe and make him lift his foot". A thai guy approached the guide to ask me a question about the cost of my helmet. I was pretty sure the guy worked for the shop but was very cautious about telling people the real price of my bike and equipment. My bike has gone from an actual cost of $1850 down to $300, which still even brings about gasps of "very expensive".
A couple of kms after leaving the store I noticed the sound of a scooter behind me. Nothing unusual about that you say but usually the scooters fly passed you. On occasion they go by slowly if they are laden with groceries. This scooter was staying a fixed distance behind me and continued to do so for a few kms. The "rape and pillage" paranoia began to set in. I hadn't noticed who else might have been back at the service station to over hear the conversation about the price of my equipment. I pushed the thought out of my head and imagined it was an old lady with her shopping. About a km later I had to leave the hard shoulder to go around a parked car. I looked over my shoulder to see if there was any approaching traffic and also took the opportunity to see who was on the scooter. hmmmm, if the driver of the scooter was an old lady she certainly looked young and much like a dodgy guy. Paranoia creeps back in again. "what is this guy doing following me, crap". Another few kms down the road I came to a small village with stalls along the side of the road. I started to slow down pretending to be looking at the stalls. He also slowed down. I slowed down a bit more. He slowed down a bit more. Ok,Ill have to stop. He didn't stop, phew, until he got next to me, uh oh. He mumbled something to me which I think was "I show you the way" and then pointed forward. I said "no think you" and tried to move back more towards the stalls. He tried to shake my hand and repeated "I show you the way, I show you the way". I refused his hand and again said "no thank you". He left after that. Still not sure what his intentions where. Did he just want to show me the way for a few baht or lead me up his garden path. I shall never know, thank jebus. The next 10kms or so where still fuelled with paranoia, looking out for red scooters on the side of the road and a stick through the front wheel. Nothing happened.
About the 100km mark there was a sign pointing off the highway to Chumpton via a shortcut. It would cut about 10kms off the ride so I took it. The thoughts of back roads and "rape and pillage" were swiftly over ruled by my arse and not having to be in the saddle for an extra 10 kms. I should have tested the saddle on my new bike a bit more before starting the trip. There was a few disagreements between arse and saddle. The saddle usually won most of the disagreements with arse admitting to defeat. I was hoping they would mend their ways along the route but looks like they were not meant to be. A tragedy along the lines of romeo and Juliet. What a romance it could have been, arse and saddle riding off into the sunset but instead its turned out like George Bush and the rest of the world (can you guess who is the arse in the simile). The back roads quickly turned into rural countryside. It was great, finally some routes like I was expecting. Smooth roads through jungke and fields. I figured it was the outlining suburbs of Chumphon. It looked much like a suburb from the outskirts of many european or australia cities. Houses set on a small block of land with a driveway. The main difference being that instead of a fence they had jungle. Instead of a back garden they had jungle. Instead of a local football field they had jungle. It was defiantly a case of keeping up with the jones when it came to having jungle surrounding your house. Each house trying to out do the next with its surrounding jungle. Not being up to date with the landscaping fashions of thailand I assumed that jungle was probably in for 2011.
Surprisingly enough even in this outlaying area where there couldn't have been much in the way of through traffic every couple of house had their road side food stall. It was like having a food stall was a national hobby. My mind wonders to two local women having a conversation about their sons.
"how is young Thaing doing"
"very well, he has gone away this weekend with this school for the local road side food stall cooking competitions"
"oh, that is nice. he was always such a keen child"
"and what about Meng, he is in university?"
"yes, yes. he is on the varsity road side food stall team"
"yes, we are very proud. he won the state championships and we have hopes he can go national"
"you are so lucking"
"yes. now are you going to buy any of my food or not?"
The road seems to drag as I watch the kms click away. Arse is telling me to stand a bit more which is difficult as the back of the bike sways all over the place once you unweight it. Suddenly I feel exhausted. I am struggling to pedal and I can't figure out why, the road looks flat and there is no head wind. I rotate through the screens on my gps to see that the road is not flat and is actually at a 5% gradient. Worst false flat I've been on. The town appears not long after the climb. i find a "you are here" map and ride to the first hotel I can find on it. The room is a bit dirty but fine, so I take it and bring my luggage and bike up to the room. Then I notice the opened unused condom on the floor. I can't be bothered moving hotels so I pick it up using the plastic bag in the bin.
Shower and food. I find a pizza joint in a shopping mall and enter. They have a "pizza set" for 400 baht ($13) consisting of garlic bread, 4 chicken wings, a pasta dish and a 10" pizza. Meal sizes tend to be small over here so I order the pizza set thinking it to will be small. Nope. The four plates on the table tell me this meal is for 4 people. pfffhhhh, they haven't seen a hungry irish man eat. The portions come out a lot bigger than I though. I finish the pasta and garlic bread (whole loaf) before the pizza arrives. When it does come out I admit to myself I have ordered far to much. i shouldn't have had so much garlic bread. None the less I go into survival mood "eat the food, eat the food". I was beaten but not vanquished. I had eaten everything but two pieces of pizza. I reckon I could have eaten it all but the sausage on the pizza was sliced frankfurter which didn't taste the best.
After a rest to let the four person dinner digest I walked around the town. Nothing much here. I was looking for a bar called the "farang bar", meaning caucasian bar to have a beer but couldn't find it so I went to bed early for another early start.
Ride 5 done.