We woke as the only inhabitants of our guesthouse (other than the gekko we found in the sink). The bed was rock, rock hard and the walls were bare plaster. Not decorous and the bed’s hardness made sleeping a challenge so all in all we have had better hotels. However, there were no other options in Sawang Arom!
The freshness of the morning is always a delight. It is so pleasant to ride before the heat of the day builds up. Our route took us northwards along flat, minor roads with famland on both sides and the occasional village. The roads were all quiet but the surfaces varied from tarmac to soft earth, with everything in between. The trikes handle well on uneven surfaces – far better than touring bikes – but the going is slower.
The vegetation was lush, the people were friendly, we passed impressive temples and saw agriculture close up. Thailand has 13 million farmers out of a total population of 71 million, and although agriculture is only about 10% of Thailand’s GDP, 40% of the population are concerned with agriculture. Farms tend to be small, family run business with an average of 8 acres.
Rice is the main crop with over 50% of land being used for rice production. However we also saw sugar cane being harvested. Sugar cane production in Thailand reached a peak of 131 million metric tonnes in 2018 but halved the following year due to drought and farmers switching from sugar cane to cassava. We also saw casava being dried in the sun to produce tapioca – another major cash crop. The countryside is certainly not affluent but neither does it shout of absolute poverty. I suspect there is more rural poverty than we could see but there were also new cars parked in drives and the shops were full of stuff that was far from essentials. Farming tends to be labour intensive and, for some, involve long, back breaking days in the hot fields. But this fertile land is still probably a better place to be a farmer than many neighboring countries.
We reached the main “1” road, a dual carriageway with a wide shoulder which runs northwards from Bangkok, just before lunch time. A few Km along there was the equivalent of a motorway services where we had noodles, vegetables and an undefined form of meat for 35 baht (less than £1) – Welcome Break take note! It was delicious and filled a gap. Bernie had been a fighting a cold all morning and we decided not to go on for too much longer, giving us the afternoon to relax. The Ping River was nearby and so we headed for it and found the River Green Resort, a collection of bungalows at the river’s edge. It was a lovely spot and just the place to relax.
Late in the afternoon we ambled across the bridge (the river being at least 100m wide at this point) and explored the town of Khanu Woralsburi. There must be hundreds of similar towns across the central part of Thailand – clean, active and full of noise. Not just the motorbikes on the main drag but the hubbub in the market where more or less anything was for sale and the long conversations at the roadside as if time were not pressing – which it may well not be. We were – we confidently say – the only foreign visitors in the town but we were treated with kindness as we used google translate to buy food for our supper. One of the changes since 2018 when we first visited is that there are more multi-lingual signs – Thai and English – than before. It seems the government has decided that English should be the country’s second language, and there are far more people we encounter who have a smattering of English – even in the market. We don’t pretend that it is the UK rather than the USA which is driving this but it is welcome to us.
2 thoughts on “Day 7: Wednesday 11 January: Sawang Arom to River Green Resort on the Ping River at Khanu Woralsburi: 68km.”
It looks stunning-I remember the friendliness and awe at seeing a ‘foreigner’ with white skin-in just 2003.
I’m following your travels with such fondness and reminiscing.
Take care both of you
Looks to be going well. Videos of recumbent bikes from the rear always amuse me as there is no visible means of propulsion, it’s just going on it’s own with a passenger on board!