The Land of Smiles

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Asia » Thailand
August 9th 2013
Published: June 21st 2017
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Geo: 9.14, 99.33

Thailand really is the ‘Land of Smiles', on leaving Hua Hin and heading south I continually get shout out's, waves, thumbs up from the locals, the passing jeeps, motorbikes, cars, lorries etc. no-one can believe that I'm cycling out here on my own. I travel through beautiful scenery on the road south to Surat Thani and I am continually rewarded by kindness.

On leaving I cycled through one of Thailand's many National Parks with the limestone mountains lining my road and the palm filled beaches by the sea which are stunning. As I'm on the bicycle and traveling much slower than other forms of transport, it gives me the opportunity to chat to the locals on my route, and visit many places of interest that you just wouldn't see otherwise Ike the strangely giant sort of grumpy looking 'monks' that were overlooking everything. The puncture I got on the dirt track going down to see them and the lovely helpful 'drunk' young guy who stopped to help me... he was funny.

Although I tried to stick to a coastal route, in places it's just impossible with the roads leading back to the main highway which is really frustrating, but
I do the best I can. My first stop from Hua Hin I end up in my own beach bungalow after Kui Buri, which was a great find, I luckily asked a woman at a shop who sent me to her sisters place just 500m away, with a stunning deserted beach to enjoy and big fancy millionaire houses to enjoy looking in at. No sooner had I arrived when a lovely Thai/German couple asked if I would like to join them for dinner, which means I'm thrown in the back of their jeep with the kids and 'bounce' our way to the local market for some food which was great, tasted every better as it was their treat which was kind.

I love the spices and chili's, hot, hot, hot… but I feel I've been broken in now and can manage most foods. The family are lovely and not only do I enjoy one night with them but two, and I'm invited to the family's beach BBQ the next evening which was great fun with lots of fishes, a few beers, lots of dancing and a real fun time and again didn't cost me a penny.

From here I
went via Ao Noi beach to Prachup Khiri Khan and the temple on top of the mountain (which I have to climb of course) with it's 395 steps and place surrounded by monkey's, it has incredible sea plus city views. When I arrived I had fruit in a bag on the handlebars of my bike and a ‘big' cheeky monkey snatched it before I could even blink, I didn't even see him coming and he gave me such a fright before boldly sitting in front of me eating my passion fruit. Climbing the steps to the temple the place was full of monkey's so much so that locals want to sell you food for them on the way up but I didn't take them up on their offer as I didn't fancy them jumping all around after my brief encounter and thankfully they left me alone when they realized I didn't have anything for them, surely this only makes them rely on humans rather than finding food for themselves anyway!

Leaving the temple I ended up on a pier which had lots of boats coming in with their catch and a whole group of people sorting fish into baskets
which was great to watch. I was pleased that they weren't camera shy and in fact welcomed me to watch and take some photos which was kind of them, they're always characters among the fishermen which was very entertaining. I end up cycling off the pier, along lovely beaches and come to a Military type base where I had to sign in for some reason and I was surprised to find a Military runway which I had stop to take a wee picture of the bike slap bang in the middle of – I doubt that'll ever happen again, but I didn't find where I was meant to sign out?

More beaches with the idyllic Ban Krut with hammocks slung between the palm trees, the beautiful color of sea and sand, and a lovely peaceful place to visit. After another great days cycling, I camped out on the seafront at Thap Sakae as advised by a Thai local who took me for coffee. He's a keen cyclist and couldn't believe the road he had found me on… I'm way off the tourist track here. He advised to camp beside a seafood restaurant right on the front (which I
Bike on the Military RunwayBike on the Military RunwayBike on the Military Runway

ha ha... long story!
did) and I enjoyed a dinner of ‘crab baked with holy basil over rice' which was fantastic. The staff looked after me, let me have access to their loo and told me when they were coming and going plus gave me their mobile numbers in case I needed anything which was really kind.

After enjoying a morning stroll on the beach I headed to Pak Klong but it was a fairly hard going day filled with rubber plantations with plenty of up and downs, but once again I enjoyed the beaches and locals who chatted away to me. In fact nearly every household had a few words for me in the actual village of Pak Klong and are fascinated by my bike, to which I receive lots of thumbs up and smiles. When I tell them I have come from Bangkok they can't believe it, I don't go into the whole ‘from China' part and they're delighted with their information anyway from the stranger in town.

Next stop is Chump Hon and although I was tempted to get the ferry to Koh Tao, I was sent 20km to the wrong pier and after a long day I
didn't have the energy to go back. This port didn't have another ferry until the following morning at 7pm and was double the price of the other port! While I was gathering information a boat docked but everyone coming off looked miserable, seriously... so there and then i decided I wasn't going and decided to find a camp spot instead and carry on down the mainland.

I ended up camping my tent in someone's front living area under cover which was very kind of them and once again I was able to use their facilities which always helps. I had picked up dinner from a local market on the way and ended up sitting on yet another deserted palm tree lined beach eating pork and chicken with rice. The family had three children who all chatted away until it was bedtime, they were so kind and sweet and even in the morning I was included in the family breakfast which was very kind of them.

I found a great route south which took me along the coast and farming areas for 40km before I had to go back out to the main highway which was nice. The looks I got on
this road was unbelievable, I seriously don't think they've ever had a solo woman cycling through here like 'ever'… it's what makes traveling this way so completely unique.

I end my night at Lamae in a GH on the main route which means I make Surat Thani the next day however I arrived in a thunderstorm and although I got undercover for a good hour, it just wasn't for letting up so I decided not to continue further. It turns out I found a great cheap wee room, right beside the night market and I will decide where to go from here.

Gut feeling would be Koh Samui from here, leaving my bike for a couple of days in the hotel's parking area which is undercover and have a couple of days on the beach, although I don't khow how the island will compare to the incredible, tourist free trip south I've just had, I just don't know… yet!

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