Ban Noen Phoem to Pitsanulok 105km
Some of the folk I ride past don't look very happy. In fact, some look pretty grumpy. Some really give me the evil eye, seeming to be asking, "WTH (what the heck ) is that stupid "falingi" (foriegner) think he's doing? Cycling through my village with all that luggage? And what is that stupid little trailer he is towing used for?" But I have the magic to change that frown. A smile and a wave, and even the grumpiest, toothless old crow reacts, with a grin and a wave of her own......well almost always. But today, it was a huge effort to make that wave. I was tired.
Luckily, most of today's route was downhill, payback for the other day climbing so much. (top speed today was 75kph). The Scouts didn't have it so easy. At my hotel the other night, I had meet a group of young teachers, who told me they were all "Boy Scouts". Now three of them were definitely not boys, but rather stunning women. But from discussion, I assumed they were leaders at Boy Scouts, and we're heading to a Jamboree. Today I saw the Scouts, girls and boys, walking to Jamboree campsite along the main road, carrying all their gear. They were heading uphill, for at least 5km, and as you'll see from the photos, their carrying methods were not great. I did a lot of cheering, yahooing, and thumbs ups, and got a few smiles in return. They will all sleep well tonight.
The Monks were making easier work of it, heading downhill like me. I passed at least a dozen over the course of the day. They were in brown robes, and carrying their begging bowls in a sort of rucksack. Seems they were all off on a pilgrimage somewhere.
The heavily armed Police and Soldiers, manning two different road blocks, were looking pretty hot and flustered as well. They were stopping and searching all vehicles, and there were several patrol cars racing between the road blocks, sirens screaming. But they all waved me through, lots of cheers, thumbs ups, and smiles.
I must have looked stuffed though. I stopped for a break, and the owner of a small shop, came down the steps and ushered me to a seat. Cold drink, ice and mango was thrust upon me. He got on the phone, and his friend from Dubai turned up to speak English to me. Lovely people.
I struggled into Pitsanulok, to be greeted by my Warmshowers host, Mark, and his family. They run a very small English Language School, and when I've recovered, I'm going to help teach for a day.
Warmshowers. The Hosts have never failed to impress. The welcome, care and hospitality. I've been feed, washed, rested, feed twice more, shown around the markets, been dancing with the locals, and had a great day with Marks students. I've also meet two other lovely ladies, from Russia and Germany who are here to help teach for a few days. I am incredibly privileged, and feel I have new long lasting friendships and memories. I am rested, and ready to continue with my journey.....towards Myanmar.