We had met a road-biking Thai on our way into town the day before, who rode along with us for a number kilometers, speaking perfect English, and he mentioned that there was quite a large cycling club in town, and they were pretty helpful people. Because we weren’t certain of the availability of accommodations between Huahin and PKK, our next route south, we decided to stop at one of the bicycle shops in town and see if some of those cyclists actually knew about that countryside on the small roads between the highway and coast.
We didn’t find the cyclist we imagined at that the bike shop, but a young man was absolutely certain there were “many many many” hotels down this long stretch of road near a National Park. So we took off on the blue roads, hoping that, in fact, this young man wasn’t wrong. Traffic was almost nonexistent on these back roads, and we were able to see and talk about things along the way (always a cycling pleasure). Shrimp farming seems to be the predominant agricultural feature of this low-lying land right next to the Gulf of Thailand.
Questions abound while you’re riding along: just how they do their shrimp farming, what’s the procedure, why are some ponds aerated and some ponds not? Still others are totally dry and why do they plow the bottom up before they flood them, and just how long do they lie empty and fallow? I’ll have to look this up in Wikipedia after I finish this blog.
As we said many times in the past, there are plenty of places to eat along the side of the road in Thailand. In this photo, Stanna and I have stopped at a little place with a cement table in the dappled light, to refresh ourselves with a cold soft drink. When we finally approached the National Park, limestone karsts pop-up out of the flat delta spit of peninsula. (A karst is a pillar-like formation of limestone that has not yet eroded into the land or sea – Thailand is famous for them). From what we can tell, just about anywhere there’s high rising karsts there are monkeys, and this park was no exception. They even have signs approaching park headquarters saying, “do not feed the begging monkeys”. As we cycled along, I probably took 10 or 15 photos of monkeys and here’s just one taken from the saddle right next to a mileage marker.
I told Stanna by 2, or definitely by 3 PM, we would start looking for a hotel or guesthouse along the way. And lo and behold, just past the last junction in the road we found a Thai language sign above a row of bungalows with English words at the very bottom saying “little home beach”. We are real fortunate that the teenager in the bike shop knew about accommodations down this way. Most of the places we had seen were twice the price and in the resort category. This one was just down-home enough for us.
Everything along this resort coast has been a little higher priced than we were used to, but we figured $25 a night this one night would work out just fine. It had direct access to the beach, hot water, clean sheets and we were the only ones staying there. Far better than those up-scale places we were passing by.
Before dinner we took a long walk along the sandy crescent beach which was littered with soft sea shells, plus a couple of unusual seashells we had never seen before. On our beach walk we discovered further down the beach was a nice little restaurant that we later visited for dinner.
On these back roads towards the park there were a great many thorn bushes reaching out into the roadway. Evidently Stanna picked up a thorn, causing a slow leak. I pulled the tube out in the shade of a shrimp farm shack, but couldn’t find the leak. We pumped it up, continued riding another 45 minutes until we decided to pull into this nice little row of bungalows, where after dinner I took the tire apart again in the bungalow sink and found the leak.
Breakfast can be problematic in Thailand since we don’t read or speak Thai, and they don’t often serve granola and yogurt, even if we could. This morning we decided to start out cycling & see what we can find along the side of the road. We went about 30 or 40 minutes when I noticed a newly built restaurant down off the side of the road. We cycled down to their surprise, the man in the small truck garden & the woman behind a small counter. My very limited Thai is coming back and I tried to bluff my way into scoring a Thai omelette. Well that didn’t work, but we did get pork and rice, soup and more pork, two fried eggs, and a lot of good friendly times joking each in our own language & photo taking of each other. I imagine those photos will be up on the wall somewhere, as their first (and possibly only) farang guests in that brand-new restaurant.