Day 274 to 280 – Thailand Part 8

3rd January
Day 274
Ko Phangan to Klia

We decided to book on to the 10.00am ferry so that we wouldn’t have to set an alarm and we could have a leisurely start to the day. We were both awake by 6.30am, which gave us plenty of time to pack, settle our bill, say our goodbyes and cycle down to the ferry port, we even had time to have breakfast in one of the cafes.

The ferry over to the main land took 2 and half hours, it was packed, we fortunately had seats, a lot of people were forced to sit on the floor either in the air conditioned room which we had seats in or on the deck which was open and very hot. Gary read through out the trip, as I can’t read due to travel sickness I chatted to the young Irish couple next to me and strolled the deck.

Once docked we took our bikes and cycled down the east coast toward Krabi, Gary had set a route which would take us off the main road and inland through the mountains near the national park.

We realised at our first stop that we’d forgotten to get any money out of the ATM, we tried the machines at the 7 to 11 but the computer said no. We were a little bit concerned because we only had about £7 (Thai money) on us but we were fairly confident we would see an ATM before our final destination a further 17km along the road. Fortunately we found several on route but had already calculated that if we needed to we had plenty of money for food and drink and we could camp anywhere on route.

Google maps would be great if only they were more accurate, we had plotted a route to a home stay but when we arrived the home stay was not there. We decided to cycle to another restaurant/bar we’d seen advertised called the Horizon in the hope they had rooms. On arrival we were greeted by a lovely lady and english guy who provided us with a cold beer and lots of uselful information including the whereabouts of the home stay. The english guy ‘Peter’ had been living in Thailand for 9 years, I it was easy to see why, the restaurant was on the beach and was beautiful. as was his wife and child.

The homestay we had plotted our route to was a further 1km around the coast, the owner greeted us and offered us several rooms we took the cheapest a bamboo hut on the edge of the lake, although it had it’s own bathroom this was detached which meant you had to walk outside to access it. The hut was small but it was in a picturesque setting we would not realise until late into the evening that there was a problem with the electrics and every now and then they would cut out, then re start, not a big problem but on the wall opposite the bed you could see what looked like a fuse board crackling and lighting up, this was hidden in the bamboo structure, I’m no electrician but I’m sure that is not normal.

The homestay had a restaurant by the beach, so once showered and changed we went down to the restraint to eat and drink. We met a Norwegian guy there that did a lot of wheeling and dealing which enabled hime to have a very nice lifestyle which included spending time in Thailand, he clearly knew the owner very well, time in Norway skiing and time travelling he also informed us he had a boat that he liked to travel in occasionally. He had worked in the arts business and was clearly very knowledgeable about his subject and enjoyed the lifestyle he’d created for himself.

I wasn’t feeling too great, I had the shivers even though it was a beautiful evening and I had no appetite so I had a beer, a bit of food and went to bed to sweat out what ever was trying to take over my body. Turned out this was the start of my period, annoying but nothing too serious.
4th January
Day 275
Klia to Ron Phibun
51 miles – now completed 7,000 miles
I had a restless night but each time I woke up I felt a bit better than the time before, bloody hormones.

We took advantage of the free coffee and toast before setting off for a hot and challenging ride. Although the route was flat I found it mentally hard, my body ached and I wasn’t feeling the usual buzz I feel on the bike, I think I left my mojo in Koh Phan gnan.

As we cycled along in the morning Gary pointed out the huge spiders webs that hung between trees and telegraph poles they were huge and lurking inside of them were very big black spiders. It was a little unnerving you wouldn’t want to ride into one of those by mistake.

We stopped at the 20 mile mark for some proper breakfast, I didn’t feel very hungry but once I started eating I wolfed down my egg and rice and about half a litre of water. I probably ate my meal a little too quickly as I had to pull over and take some indigestion tablets.

Gary had planned the route so that we would stay off a main road but unfortunately we were still on a fairly busy road which meant there wasn’t a lot to see. As we passed people busy in their shops or on work sites they waved or shouted hello, as did several people on motorcycles. We saw two small children (under 10 ) cycling the wrong way up the road in the fast lane, I find it hard to believe their parents know that they do that. We also saw a dead kitten by the side of the road and in the central reservation people had tied up their cows to graze.
As we reached the 40 mile mark the landscape started to change and we had a clear view of the mountain pass that we would be cycling through to reach Krabi. We had an on going discussion through out the day whether to crack on and do 60+ miles or whether to stop at the 50 mile mark. The main reservation was my body and the climbs that we would have to do to reach the 60 mile mark.

We decided to stop in a little town, as usual we couldn’t find the hotels listed on google maps but found another motel type hotel just off the main road and at under £7 a night we agreed we couldn’t go wrong. Although I have to say it was very basic and had lots of mosquitoes, no sooner had I killed on than another flew right in front of me and they’re big buggers here.

We’d arrived at the hotel really early 2.30pm so after showering and browsing the internet we decided to buy some snacks before going out to dinner later in the evening.
Day 276
Tuesday 5th January
Ron Phibun to Tambon Phru Tiao

Gary’s diary

Fairly early start at 7.30am still 20c outside, young boy with cerebral palsy saw us off, he didn’t quite look awake so looked on in bewilderment.

The first half of the day was on main roads we stopped for breakfast at the 10 miles mark rice and curry for me, Ginette had fish, fried egg and white rice, the restaurant/roadside cafe was opposite a Mcdonalds, I bet we couldn’t get the same meal in there for £2.50.

After breakfast we turned off the main road, the conditions for cycling improved, there was less traffic and more going on in the way of forests and people greeting us.

Today was road kill day – 3 dogs, 1 cat and at least 3 snakes (one very big one)

My bike had been playing up on the gears and with only 4 miles to go and the temperature in the 40’s the chain snapped on an uphill section. I had a spare so we popped under a shaded area next to a house so that I could fix the bike. Whilst I was working on the bike the family came out and proceeded to help us. Two lads helping me with the chain, plus the mum had soap and cleaning stuff for our dirty hands. Before we left they insisted on taking some photos, we could hardly refuse after all their help.

The new chain is still jumping on the rear sprockets so I need to sort this out at the next cycle shop we see in Krabi which is a further 45 miles away.

The room we had for the night was quite nice but we were in the middle of no where again but we still had a local cafe and local shop so had food and beer. The room also had internet so it was not too bad.

Gary’s detour to miss the main road down to Krabi is turning out to be a mistake, we live and learn. He had hoped for quieter roads and more scenery but the roads were just as busy as the main road and the views were scarce. On the upside we were only covering about 50 miles a day so the time soon passes and we reached our destination just after lunch. Tummy cramps for the passed two days yuk.
Day 277
Wednesday 6th Jan
Tambon Phru Tiao to Krabi – Ao Nang Beach

Gary’s diary

We cycled the flat main road route as the new chain was jumping the old back sprocket. We arrived in Krabi Town at about 11.00am having stopped for breakfast on route, we headed to the first of the three bike shops we had on our map. The first was a good Champion Trek dealer but they didn’t have the parts and the mechanic didn’t instil much faith in me. The second shop was a chemists that also stocked bikes but he didn’t have the parts we needed. At the third shop we struck lucky it was run by a keen racing cyclist, he had photos and trophies around his walls. He was able to fix my bike whilst we waited and I now have a new rear gear set but instead of the 11 tp 32 set I had, I now have a 11 to 34. Net bought a new helmet, their compulsory in Tasmania and at £18 it was worth buying now.

I made a new friend in the third bike shop, a young boy about 2 years old who was obsessed with my calves, he kept touching them and at one point even licked them. His mum kept taking him away but he would soon find me again. He was really cute, his mum smacked his bum several times but he just smiled at her cheekily wandered off and then when she wasn’t looking would seek me out. I didn’t want to get him into trouble so I tried to give him the brush off but he then made friends with Gary.

Once my bike was fixed we cycled to the beach area, along the route we were surrounded by Limestone Rock Formations which made for a scenic route.
We checked into a hotel close to the beach, whilst we were unpacking we got talking to some guests from Birmingham one of them knew Keith Barbier from Sulzer, it’s a small world.
After having an indian meal we went to see the sun set on the beach it was beautiful, unfortunately we didn’t have out camera on us so we vowed to return the following night.

In the evening we were sat watching some live music when Ginette asked the group next us where they came from we nearly fell off our chairs when they said Nailsea, one of the young men even recognised Ginette!

Day 278
Thursday 7th Jan
Day in Krabi with a boat trip to Phi Phi (pronounced Pee Pee)

I woke hungry as usual, our hotel didn’t appear to be doing food it was only 7.30am, they sent us next door, but as they were only doing american or continental breakfast so we went hunting for a Thai breakfast. This should have been easy in Thailand but after about 1/2 hour of searching we gave up as we had a ferry to catch at 9.00am. I ended up having a omelette and Gary had a pancake. The food, drink and accommodation is much more expensive in Krabi than in the rural areas of Thailand as an example out breakfast cost the equivalent of £4.50 compared to the usual £2 for a much bigger breakfast outside of the tourist areas.

The Ferry to Phi Phi cost £28 (return) for both of us, which seemed like a lot of money but on balance was probably worth it. The ferry took about 2 hours to get to the island, it stopped mid way to allow long boats to bring people out from the smaller islands to the ferry. The views from the boat were amazing, Krabi is so beautiful and is surrounded by lots of small islands with crystal blue sea, white sand and amazing rock formations. We took lots of photos.

Phi Phi was stunning we spent the first hour chilling on the beach, before we were hungry again and had to go in search of food (it’s a hard life), Gary’s shorts were still wet from swimming in the sea so we stopped in a beach side hut. The service and food was poor and very expensive, not good.

After lunch we took a walk through the town to another less populated beach and spent a further hour soaking up the sun and paddling in the sea. The sea was really shallow at this beach so it was not possible to swim unless you walked for miles, but it was so clear and beautiful.

Phi Phi is the island where the film The Beach was set it is a stunning island and has recovered well from the destruction of the Tsunami which hit several years ago.

We had a pee pee in the sea sea at Phi Phi just as well it wasn’t called Pho Poo.

The ferry ride back was slightly quicker, I managed to snooze for most of it (not very attractive, Gary took a picture, bugger)

Once back on dry land we headed to the beach to take some photos of the sun setting again an amazing sight, some of the tourists/locals were so impressed they gave the sun a round of applause as it finally set behind Phuket (one of the larger islands). It was a really good show and it was totally free, I’m surprised more people don’t gather to watch it.

After showering we went and had dinner, we didn’t feel like socialising in the evening, so opted for a McFlurry from the Mcdonalds, a couple of tinnies from the 7 to 11 and a night in front of Micheal Macintire (spelling) courtesy of Utube.
Day 279

Woke early, Gary had a bad nights sleep apparently someone got locked out in the room below us and was knocking on the door to be let in, Gary went to assist but it was an inside door rather than the main door, I fortunately slept through the commotion.

After a little bit of research re the next stage of our journey we went in search of a kayak to hire for the day. We found one at the end of Ao Nang Beach complete with dry bag and snorkels. We had a lovely day paddling around the little bays and islands it was fantastic, the sea was so clear and as we laid on the white soft sand we could hear the waves gently lapping at the shore. It would have been relaxing if only I could get the puppy dog to sit still long enough to enjoy it (Gary; I sat still for at least 5 minutes) I’ve decided beach holidays are best done with the girls, who know how to sit there and chill, although I have to admit every time I try this sitting and chilling for more than 1/2 hour I also get bored and want to do something else.

We had a lovely day, but like all good things it had to come to an end so we returned the kayak and chilled on the beach as we didn’t have our books we simply sat and people watched for about an hour before we needed to find a little respite from the sun.

We had a chilled out evening which included some street food, followed by some light retail therapy and to top the evening off we listened to some live music. We didn’t feel like a late night so instead of spending our dwindling funds on more beer we agreed to get some biscuits and go back to the room. We got a little over excited in the biscuit shop (7 to 11) and bought a packet of chocolate hob nobs and some ginger nuts without checking the price, silly mistake they cost almost £5!!! we could have stayed out all night for that amount all be it on naff draught lager, but they did taste good.

Krabi is beautiful but it is full of tourists, most of them westerners which is a shame, we met a lady from Finland and she said 25 years ago there were only a few bars and hotels and it was really quiet, that sounds more like our idea of heaven.

Day 280
Krabi to Nipha Thani 18 miles outside of Malaysia
28 miles

We started the day with a fried rice dish before setting off for the bus station, which was 10 miles up hill from our accommodation. It was great to be back on the bikes we both loved it. At the bus station we had a strike of luck just as we were entering the bus we needed pulled in, we hadn’t checked time tables so we were really surprised when a lady poked her head out, shouted out our destination and then a price for the bikes. We smiled and nodded back that we would like to jump on the bus, 20 minutes later and £20 lighter we were off. It was a 5 hour journey so I can’t imagine the bus runs that frequently it was obviously our lucky day. I passed the time away by listening to podcasts whilst Gary read his new book. The time went fairly quickly and we only got fidgety for the last 1/2 hour.

Once we arrived in Hat Yai we agreed to cycled 15-20 miles to find some accommodation, this was on the basis that it would reduce our mileage for the following day. The road was busy but the cars and lorries gave us plenty of room and we quickly covered the miles down to our destination.

Google maps was playing its usually tricks although three hotels were listed we couldn’t find any of them, so we stopped and asked for directions. On our second attempt a young lad was instructed to take us, he rode his motorbike and we followed on behind. Ironically we had a similar experience on our first night in Thailand and as this was our last night it felt very fitting.

The Paradise Resort was OK however our room had a large picture of a naked teenage girl posing provocatively in high heeled pink shoes on the wall and their were mirrors on the wall and the ceiling, I have a sneaky feeling that there may have been an hourly and day rate for the room.

I asked at reception for somewhere to eat and was directed in broken english to the market, I enquired how far this was and whether it was possible to walk and the girl said ‘far too far to walk’ she even offered to take us on her bike, we checked the computer and as it was less than a mile away we walked. Not surprisingly we didn’t see anyone else walking, it is not the done thing in Thailand.
Gary; we are in an area of Thailand that has seen recent violence between Malaysia and Thailand so the Uk Gov web site advises against travel in this area, we had tried to get transport over the border but as this would mean another bus ride from Hat Yai and the border is only a 30 mile ride we decided to cycle.

I have to admit to being a little unsettled about walking and being out once it had got dark, we have heard that there has been trouble in the border towns, the last terrorist bomb went off in Yala in October and although we were 68 miles from this town I still didn’t feel comfortable and felt much more settled when we were safely tucked back up in our room.

We both reflected on our walk home on the number of times we have rented a room and not been provided a key, it feels kinda normal now to leave our possession in an unlocked room and go off to dinner, we wouldn’t dream of doing this in the UK.