Hat Wanakon NP to Phu Noi 104km
I reckon I was the only person, other than staff, sleeping in the National Park last night. It was pretty special. I love sleeping by the sea, with the surf rolling in all night. Incredibly soothing. It may have been the lack of sleep the night previously, but I slept a good 10 hours, and woke to a swim in the sea. Lovely.
Breakfast, at the NP diner, could have been pretty good, but despite saying four times.."and no bacon"... the plate came out with one egg, one toast, and bacon, and it was twice the price of yesterdays breakfast. Still, the hot chocooate was yummy, and it was better than starting yet another day with steamed rice.
I tried a dirt road to get out of the NP, but it was once again muddy, rutted and overgrown, so had to head out to the speedway, jump the medium ditch, and then, oh dear, I was stuck there for at least 10km. Eventually, I found a way off the speedway, by following a dirt track, turning on to a railway maintenance trail, and coming out at a town dump, where I was greeted by 157 growling mongrels ....dogs.
Now I'm not a dog hater, but I've never owned one, because I believe owning a dog is a life time commitment, and my life style doesn't allow me to make that commitment. I have many friends that own gorgeous dogs, and I am very comfortable sharing space with them, as these dogs are generally well cared for, loved and well behaved. But in Asia there seems to be no such thought pattern. There are dogs roaming everywhere. Many look extremely emancipated. Many are extremely timid, and shy away as I ride past. Some are not timid enough, and too trusting, sleep on the road and get run over by passing vehicles. Others are just incredibly aggressive, and hate bikes (reminds me of my postie days) There seem to be a huge proportion of this later category in Thailand. Makes for some scarey moments.
With a little, okay a lot, of yelling, a bit of speedy pedaling, and some aggressive steering, I survived the 157 dump dogs, and found I had cycled into the back of a park for Science and Technology. School groups camp here, and spend the days playing with stuff similar to that found in "Science Alife". Pretty groovy. There were also dinosaurs hidden in the bushes, and a massive aquarium. Unfortunately, as usual in Asia, many of the working models that I wandered past outside, were in a state of disrepair, but the concept was pretty cool, and there were at least three bus loads of kids out running around.
I was now back in Asia, and I hadn't seen any tourists running around on scooters all morning. A few strange things about the breed of tourists I've been seeing spring to mind. Many of them seem to be from the same area of Europe, but they hardly even acknowledge each other. A group, obviously on a guided cycle ride, all rode past me yesterday, and although I called out greetings and waved, the only one to respond was the Thai guide. I've watched them in shops and restaurants, and they ignore each other. No greetings, no eye contact, no acknowledgement at all. It's almost as if they are ignoring each other, hoping that the others are not here, spoiling their get away from reality. They bring with them, however, their staunch regard for rules. The road into the NP was wide, at least three lanes. A scooter, European rider, was the only other traffic on the road. There are large speed bumps crossing his half of the road. Any other driver in the world would swerve across the road to avoid the speed bumps......wouldn't you? Not this guy.
I've learnt another word.... Cowpat...it means fried rice without spice.....handy, and easy to remember. I'm working on....."howsyourmuddycar" ...which seems to be "gidday" or "have a good one".
It's a bit scarey though. Some of the locals, both male and female, are wearing full face covering hoods, with slots for eyes. I'm not sure why. Religion? Sun protection? Dust protection? What ever, it's a little unnerving.
But I've found a lovely lady to host me tonight. Jiaranai Aroka is a Yoga Instructor, and runs retreats here in Phu Noi. She also invites cyclists and cycle groups to her cafe. I was stopped by a local on the road yesterday, not wearing a hood, and directed to her place. He also advised me to eat from places on the highway, rather than the beach, as beach prices are much too high. So as scarey as some locals look, there are still many keen to help me out. Fantastic.