Today felt much more like our cycling days of old. We woke early in our pleasant comfortable hotel in a village of unknown name. Our morning coffee was delivered with 3 sugars so we declined but we were able to brew up and have our porridge, our usual cycling start to the day. Night turned to day in the space that it took the water to boil! We were off just before 8 in the cool slightly misty morning. The back road to Chai Nat was pleasant passing paddy fields and irrigation canals. David had to attend to more niggles with his trike but is learning more about the set up with each adjustment. An Australian passed in his car and passed the time of day. He has lived in Thailand for 6 years and was astonished when we said that we found all the drivers extremely polite. ‘Haven’t you experienced the road rage?’ he said – perhaps he was the instigator of the road rage but it certainly is not our experience.
We crossed the massive Chao Praya river, which runs down to Bangkok and fills the irrigation channels of the central plains creating the bread basket (or rice and sugar cane basket) of Thailand. The road immediately turned into a 6 lane highway as we entered Chai Nat. Luckily there was a feeder lane along the side and it wasn’t long before we turned into the centre of the town. We passed a little bicycle shop and managed to get a hefty tyre lever (so we don’t have a repeat of the tyre problems from yesterday). Then with the help of googlemaps found a coffee shop selling ‘Italian coffee’ and had lovely coffee and cakes.
The road out of Chai Nat couldn’t have been more different. We took a tiny road that hugged the riverside and passing through pretty villages. This was more like it. As we crossed the Chao Praya river again towards Uthai Thani the road again got busier but stayed as two lanes with a wide shoulder (in fact most of the roads have a well paved wide shoulder, presumably to cater for the myriad of people on motorbikes). Uthai Thani was a characterful town where we stopped for lunch. We have learnt not to be put off by kiosks and plastic tables – this is where you can get a filling bowl of noodles with usually pork or chicken and vegetables for about £1. The one we chose was full of chatty women – only one of which could speak rudimentary english. She dutifully repeated where we were from, where we were going etc to the oohs and ahhs of the other women!
Bikes seem the form of transport for those at the bottom of society here in Thailand – not many high end, carbon racing bikes on show here. Push bikes generally have no gears and are only for people who cannot afford any form of motorbike – and some of the motorbikes here can carry 5 people without anyone wearing a helmet and without worrying about an MoT (or so it sounds). There is a practice of wearing face masks and no helmet on a motorbike. To us, wearing helmets on a trike but no facemasks, it seems strange but no stranger than lots of other things we have experienced.
We hadn’t planned an end point to the day as we were not sure how we would feel. We were 60km in but feeling good so aimed for a town another 30km on and booked into a guest house.
As we came out of Uthai Thani we cycled around the foot of a hill that emerged from the flat plain. A buddist temple, wat khoo sakae krang, had been built on top and there were some impressive stairs for the faithful to climb (no doubt bare foot) to earn a step towards nirvana (the mystical state, not the rock band that is). We still had 30km to go and so left the experience to those who wanted mystic experiences or maybe wanted to visit the nearby caves with 9 species of bat. Neither was tempting enough to make us climb the several hundred metres to the top.
Our route took us away from the river with its main towns and struck more across country. The bird life was abundant and we began to see water buffalo.
The last 20km or so began to get a bit tedious but the bite was going out of the sun and we eventually trudged into the town of Sawang Arom, very pleased to have covered over 90km. Admittedly it’s been as flat as a pancake but we are already feeling fitter (albeit from a low base due to age, winter in the UK and a small measure of laziness over Christmas). There are, however, the beginnings of hills emerging from the flat plain. Our days of only climbing 30m over 70km might be coming to an end and it might get tougher in the days ahead.
So far (at least) we have now come to see that the trikes are really comfortable. The power is all in the legs so the rest of the body is relaxed. The fears that we won’t be seen are unjustified – partly because of our flying flags but we are so different from anything else on the road that we are hard to miss!
We found the guest house we had booked into in central Sawang Arom – just by the police station. But our spirits dipped as it was locked up and seemed completely abandoned. We were just wondering what to do when a lady turned up on her bike – presumably someone who had seen us knocking on the door and pacing up and down and had given her a ring. She duly opened up and turned on the lights – our online booking of lunchtime had not yet come through. We had the strange experience that we often get once we are off the beaten track of being the only people in the place. She showed us where we could make tea and coffee and left us to it – telling us to leave the front door key on the desk when we leave!!
Eating facilities in the one horse (or at least one main road) town of Sawang Arom were limited…..in fact we had the exact same bowl of noodles as we had for lunch! Most of the world probably eats almost the same thing every day so we are spoilt when we expect an infinite variety of food. We did get some cake and ice cream from the local supermarket though to fill the calorie gap after a long day!
5 thoughts on “Day 6: Tuesday 10 January: Near Wat Dom Neramit to Sawang Arom. 93km.”
I just can’t believe the distances you are covering. Amazing
I’m following the your route on my world map which is interesting.
Yuliia is still doing really well and happy. Had a cup of tea with her yesterday after taking the 3rd load of stuff across. She has been given such good quality things.
Also she wrote a thank you post in Ditton Facebook group.
She has got more shifts on the hotel and I’ve linked her up with Hands together just a few doors down from where she lives.
Sounds a really good day.
Hope tomorrow’s will be as enjoyable.xx
I adore bats. Anne is sooo… looking forward to coming to Costa Rica with me in October. Not sure I mentioned to her that we’ll be using a 4 rig flashlight set up to photograph bats. Must find an appropriate time to tell her. Probably not a good thing to tell her in the kitchen. Too many plates she can throw at me. Stay safe p x PS – I rather like Buddhism too!
90K is not to be sniffed at. Well done. Good luck with the hills ahead.
I have started a map to show the trip. The link is here https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=1Jo4OogOsMFhy-z7yPeMVw15OsJ1plsw&usp=sharing