Today we were determined to beat the heat as much as possible so the alarm went off at 5.15 and we were off soon after 6, just as the light was beginning. It is always worth getting up early and it is our favourite time of day. The air was cool (relatively – only 25 degrees) and there was no wind. It seemed early to us but the market was in full swing as we cycled through it on our way out of town. As the town gave way to fields we had our first sunrise of the holiday and the fabulous early morning light across a rural landscape interspersed with palm trees.
The first hour’s ride took us through little villages until we hit the coast. We were amazed to find a wide, newly paved bike path over the next 20km or so and although the road was quiet at that time of day, it meant we could ride side by side, which we are rarely able to do. The road was a few hundred meters inland. We passed several ‘view points’ – which in this flat as a pancake landscape meant a brief glimpse of the sea, far across scrubby land.
After 45 km we reached the main resort of Cha-Am. It was still not 9 o’clock and was time for our “second breakfast”, a concept unknown outside cycling holidays (and would be disastrous to the waistline at all other times). The advantage of a real tourist spot was that there was a great coffee shop with proper coffee and breakfast of eggs benedict! We chatted to a man there –he was from Hong Kong but his wife is Thai and he spends half the year in each place. The Covid-19 outbreak had resulted in Thailand bringing in an enforced 2-week quarantine for everyone coming in from Hong Kong. As a result, his booking.com hotel reservation was promptly cancelled. As he was having breakfast whilst his wife and children were asleep at the hotel, we assumed he rebooked the hotel in his wife’s name so that the booking originated from Thailand and not Hong Kong! But that small story was symptomatic as to how the virus seems to already to be having a massive effect on tourism.
The next stage involved taking a parallel road to the main north-south busy highway. Oddly it turned into a dual carriageway – although it was virtually empty of traffic! Even so we still had our own bike path! The road was rather boring and featureless and the day got hotter, but at least we got the km done and by 75km we had reached the resort of Hua Hin. This was about a 15km strip of built up beach and allegedly the first proper beach resort in Thailand. It is certainly no longer the fishing village it used to be. It has numerous, fairly mundane high rise concrete buildings – mostly hotels. Not our sort of place at all but we had resolved to cycle between 6 and 1am and so we found a hotel on ‘Agoda’ at the furthest end to the south, booked it and cycled the last 7km there. Agonda is a substitute here for booking.com – but is now owned by – you guessed it – booking.com.
Between 1 and 3.30pm we rested and hid from the sun in our room reading our books. We then strolled the 100m to the beach. A pleasant enough bay, not particularly beautiful but a warm sea with big waves that battered our bodies. Very invigorating and good for our muscles I’m sure. Who needs a Thai massage! We then had a gentler swim in the hotel swimming pool before going out for a meal.
Again the disadvantage of a big resort was they seemed to dumb down the food for Europeans so no lovely spices and herbs that we had come to both love and expect. The restaurant was on an old boat though and quite atmospheric as the sun went down so that made up for it (almost).
Very much a day of two halves – felt like we had had two holidays today.