Sukhothai to Tak 90km
As much as possible I try to stay off the main highways. My OsMand App is really good for finding the smaller roads, especially here in Thailand, which has a really great base map. So without adding too many extra kms, I get to cycle away from the traffic, dodging the odd scooter or tractor, rather than tourist buses, huge trucks, and speeding utes.
So today, I found a quiet road, less than 200m from the main road, following a river through the back streets of several villages. At one stage, I was cycling along a single lane, concrete strip, under shade trees. Across the small river was a temple. The monks were chanting. It felt very surreal, almost like I was cycling through a movie, the scenery, the chanting, the exotic location..... My biggest challenge was dodging the sleeping dogs. Well most of them were sleeping. On these smaller roads, some of the dogs are a bit more protective of their territory, and once one gets excited, it rouses others along the way, so dodging sleeping dogs, becomes dodging agressive dogs. Let sleeping dogs lie seems a good idea, when you're alone on a bicycle.
One of the advantages of these routes, is you stumble on cool stuff. Today there were birds everywhere. More than I've seen for a long time. Waders, long tailed, noisy twitterers, huge herons, and some reddy brown almost eagle like ones. Would be great to be able to identify some of them.
Today I also stumbled upon an old temple. I didn't realize that I was just outside the historic village of Sukhothai, and ancient capital of Thailand. Lots of tourists come to this area. It's sort of like Cambodia's Siem Reap. So here I am at this temple, with not another person in sight. Oh that's right. They are all hiring bikes, and cycling to the temples that you pay 100baht to enter.
Saw one tourist who wasn't happy. There were a group of about eight French, with a Pommie couple, waiting at a restaurant, for a bus or their guide. As I ate breakfast I watched them. The French were pretty happy, talking about last night, yesterday, and what was happening later today. The Pommie and his partner were not happy. Whoever they were waiting for was obviously late. Lots of looking at his watch, eye rolling, quiet but grumpy words between man and wife, sighs and shrugs. I reckon the guide is going to get an ear full when he finally arrives. Yep. I've had clients like that. Nothing you do for them is good enough.
Meet another Pommie this evening in Tak. He wanted my advice. Where can he buy some Viagra? Why is he asking me? Maybe I look as if I use Viagra? Do I really look old, decrepid and worn out? I'm feeling pretty sprightly and fresh. Then I met an Israeli. He wanted a restaurant. I was able to help him, which was something he didn't expect from a NZer. He was meant to be in NZ, but had been deported by NZ Immigration, after one of the drug dogs sniffed something on him. He was held at the airport for two days, and then put back on a plane. He wasn't impressed.
I can't get over the hospitality of people here. The other day I was looking for somewhere to eat. I went into a restaurant, but they didn't open until 6pm, so I asked where I could get pizza. They didn't do pizza, and started to give me directions. Then the owner said...my boyfriend will take you, on his motorbike. Wow. Tonight, I felt the need for pizza again, I've got a very big hill to climb tomorrow. I asked the hotel reception whether they would ring in an order for pizza delivery for me. Hmmm. A little too hard for them....large vege pizza, no mushrooms, extra pineapple. Husband will take me on his scooter. 20mins across the city, rush hour. Then he buys me a 7 Up while we are waiting, and scoots me back to the hotel, and my pizza is still hot. I'm overwhelmed.
Lots of the main roads in Thailand have medium strips. Sometimes there are places to cross the strip, but often, coming from a side road, you need to turn with the flow, and wait for a major intersection, or U Turn lane before heading in the direction you really want to go. Not everyone bothers, and often I lift my head from grinding the pedals, to find a scooter, car or even a truck, coming towards me, going against the traffic. Scooters often have small ramps or gaps where they can sneak through the medium strip, but for a bus it's a bit harder. However, today, I saw another solution. Remembering, that often these U Turn lanes are one way.....A School bus, loaded with school kids, slows down as it passes me. It stops next to the medium strip. It then backs through a U Turn lane, into the traffic going in the opposite direction. Oh my goodness. Only in Asia. A good reason to get off the highway.
It's Juliets birthday on the 19th February. Give her a hug from me if you see her. Ta.