It’s probably not fair to say we’ve been suffering thru the tail-end of the rainy season, because the temperatures are still in the mid-80’s and most of you are in the below freezing regions (except Deja Vu – where Helen and Joe are probably having similar temps but no rain). However, this is the first of four trips to Thailand that we’ve seen more than a couple days rain in the entire visit and it’s probably rained 9 out of the last 12 days, albeit not all day but we’ve gotten soaked quite a number of times and I’ve ridden the loop more than once in the rain. We’ve adapted to the wet weather, donned 60-cent rain ponchos and motored along, not quite as casual as the locals who ride their scooters with an umbrella (and note that like many motorcyclists she’s riding the wrong way down the street).
I’ve managed to ratchet up my mileage because most days it hasn’t started the deluges until after the pre-dawn rides. I did manage to bugger my deluxe LED strobing taillight with water and grit flushing up the USB charging port, but outside of stashing my iPhone in my frame pack the water isn’t that much of a bother.
Several of you know there’s been a big push to get me to speak Thai with my local friends now that I’ve come back for the fourth year. Could be the hardest challenge ever for a dyslexic, phonetically-challenged 68-year-old who can’t remember a simple song or carry a tune. To exacerbate the task I’m teaching my primary teacher, SunSurn, German for equal time. So now when I’m muddled, can’t think and get tongue tied with a basic Thai alphabetic letter, what comes out is either a Spanish or German transliteration (more like bastardization) of the sound. Begging to postpone the German until at least the 44 consonant alphabet sounds and glyphs are rooted falls on deaf ears. Something about “leveling the playing fields” in the logic.
Finally got in a Sunday ride (previous Sunday was the Trang Mountain Bike Races where I only opted to ride VIP course and photobombed the Governor’s wife). This Sunday’s adventure started out only by acting as a cycling marshall to a half-marathon running race. The Cycling Club always rides forward, flanking and behind the runners on their road races since they always start in the dark when it’s cool running. After about 4 km with the lead runners, I tried to shift into my lowest gear (larger rear sprocket) and my cable housing at the handle bars parted allowing four inches of raw shift cable to be exposed and consequently the rear derailleur to slide all the way into the spokes. Fortunately the speed was minimal and no runners or cyclists were harmed in this fiasco. I had to pull my headlight off to see the damage and unwind chain and derailleur from the spokes and between the gear cluster and hub. It took removing the wheel and that’s when it became obvious that the dropout hanger was tweaked as well. Good thing Strider riding for toddlers had come to Durango a couple years back, as that was the way I got back to the starting line. Just like all my other good fortune here in Thailand, my cycling friends knew where to take the bike on a Sunday morning before 9 AM and get all the parts and tools for repair. Of course it being Sunday I had to do the repairs myself. The hardest part was getting the “noodled” aluminum hanger in a straight plane.
Even before I finished installing a new chain, other club members had called to say they were already on their way to Pak Meng at the beach and I should “catch-up”. The beach is 24 miles from Trang so I guessed at some of the intersections and found them about 2/3’s of the way there.
Unaware that they had longer plans than just the beach ride and back, I should have known that riding the half-marathon was only a warm-up. We ended up doing the whole coastal loop after lunch and a stop at the National Park Beach. These are the rides I enjoy the most because they always take us to places we never expect, and even the mileage comes easily because we stop so often to eat.
After pointing to a cluster of ladies huddled under a shed roof along the coast, Tigersong signaled to turn around and we toured a shrimp sorting site. 20 ladies at two stainless counter-height tables were picking out smallest and largest shrimp and sliding the medium ones into laundry baskets. Each basket was weighed and charted before being dumped into blue plastic 50-gallon drums with crushed ice. Destination was 900 kilometers north at a Bangkok market place.
This “loop” ride was just over 70 miles and is a favorite because the middle leg is all along the Andaman coast line, ending in Kantang river port where we have to take a car ferry across before heading north back to Trang.
Of course, we had to knock down another meal, this time at the famous “soft noodle” seafood soup place, where they serve one of the more expensive soups we’ve encountered. 70 Baht ($2.10) gets you a very large bowl of soup with just about one of every sea creature available along the coast. I could only identify two of the tasty marine life swimming in my bowl, but I’m sure I’ve now tried (or should say swallowed) all those available, regarded as delicacies and most likely featured in some of those highly popular reality TV shows.