Jet lag is fading but still giving us weird nights. None the less we woke with the alarm for our first day’s cycling. We fell back into the routine of packing and were on the road at about 7. It was warm – not surprising as the nights don’t fall below about 27 degrees – but reasonably pleasant. The first part of the route took us winding through small alleyways until we reached a more main road and soon we were cruising westwards on a wide straight road out of Bangkok and through the suburbs. After beetling around Bangkok on the bikes yesterday we had to adjust to being fully loaded but soon had the measure of the bikes. The traffic was fine and as we found last year, the drivers were polite and not aggressive. So all in all a step up from cycling in London!
After about 20km we stopped for a coffee and when we emerged from the little air-conditioned café it definitely felt as if it was hotting up. A little further on and we had to merge onto the 3 lane main road westwards. As we had to cross several large rivers and there were few bridges there was no other option. There was a wide shoulder but it wasn’t exactly pleasant riding. 45km and the heat was getting to us, so another stop in an air-conditioned café to cool down.
Soon after, at last we were able to turn off the ‘motorway’. Trouble was how to get across the Thai equivalent of a busy M25 because the little road we wanted was on the other side and was not at an official turn off. Luckily there was a footbridge coming up, which seemed the safer option than crossing 6 lanes of lorries, cars and other traffic (thus proving we do have some residual sense after all). Getting up the steps to the bridge was quite a palaver with the loaded bikes. The steps were steep and we had to unload everything to get the bikes and panniers up and over then again to get them down the other side.
It was worth it as it was a relief to get onto a quiet side road-but bizarrely it seemed even hotter. The landscape was flat and featureless and what I initially took to be paddy fields were in fact salt flats.
The ‘forecast’ may have been for 35 degrees but that does not equate to a hot tarmac road with no shade at midday. David later told me the temperature maxed at 43 degrees!
This was our first day with minimal acclimatisation! We were drinking like crazy and pouring the rest of the water over our heads – though the water was also 40 degrees and so was not as cooling as hoped for. Luckily there was some breeze and we managed the next 10 km to our destination. We had wondered whether we would get further than Samut, but both had that dizzy feeling and were overheated, we stuck to plan A and found the first air conditioned hotel we could. We were wiped out!
However a shower, lots to drink, some shut eye on the bed and a couple of hours later we were revived. Samut Songkram had little to say for itself so we decided to peddle the 10km down to the coast to Dan Hoi Lat, where we were promised seafood a plenty. Setting out again at 4pm without luggage and the temperature ‘only ‘ 32 degrees felt a doddle, even with a strong wind against us.
I have to say the guidebook was generous with its description of Dan Hoi Lat and it is probably not the prettiest bit of coast in Thailand (at least I hope it isn’t). Still we sat and sipped beer as we sat in a very breezy and empty café looking out over the mudflats and the river estuary and were then blow back to the town as the red sun began to set.
We went out for food in the evening and found the town humming. Loads of small stalls sold food, and many Thai people mainly eat out rather than cooking at home. The first place we stopped offered us what looked like mushrooms, but turned out of be jellified offal – and it tasted offal! 72 baht wasted – £1.50 in UK money. But we then had soup with vegetables and various additions that was delicious. We ate it sitting on stools at small metal tables, in the shadow of a Buddhism monastery. Back to the hotel feeling full and contented.