Ride, paddle and soak

Sea KayakingWe often visit the coast of the Andaman Sea but not very often get out in it. Snorkeling isn’t interesting this close to the mainland, there are no waves this time of year on the west side of the peninsula and mostly we’ve had “years” of beach time. So it was a very different kind of weekend bicycle camping trip for the Club this past Sunday.

IMG_0863We rode, paddled and soaked over the two days for a total change of pace.  Pak Meng which is only 25 miles from Trang has a wide variety of beach opportunities and this time we rented two-person sea kayaks and paddled out to the karst islands and poked our boats in and out of the limestone structures.

It should be pointed out that this was a catered camping trip, with one of IMG_0828the club members bringing all his restaurant pots and dishes, not to mention his cooking skills to provide snacks, meals and refreshment every step of the way.  As Mike Taylor often chides me for, we did eat early and often on this trip, just never set foot in any restaurant or kiosk.

fruit bowl





Whether it was tailgate fruit bowls, beach front buffet, 5-course truck-bed entrees or the morning fried eggs, ham, sausage IMG_0867IMG_0841and toast with butter and marmalade, he never ceased to amaze us with the fare.

Our overnight stop was at the Kantang Hot Springs, and believe it or not we just rolled our bikes and gear thru the front gate and set up our tents on the lawn right next to the hot springs or in the pavilion.

IMG_0840 - Version 2 IMG_0838 - Version 2

IMG_0866These “wells” as the locals call them are all thru a 20-acre park and vary in temperature from one pool so hot that the sign says “Don’t boil eggs” to 105° temps we like for our hot tubs. They even have several private tubs with showers and “mix-your-own” temp faucets.

We took pre-tub soaks and private tub soaks before dinner, and after dinner soaks.  IMG_0842

And of course since ours was a leisurely breakfast buffet on the pavilion tiled floor we took before and after breakfast soaks.

It’s a good thing these rides are always over 100 km because we sure need to work off all the food we consume.





Between Sundays

Life goes on between Sundays, which like most folks means a regular routine.  Ours amounts to daily morning rides (Fahsang 60 km starting at 4:30 am for me and Stanna’s “ring ride” at 6:30), catching up on news and communications, study and reading, lunch on the town, shopping for dinner and then a little more “down time” before dinner on the porch and early to bed.

Rik LousiaSince the arrival of our Belgian friends we’ve added afternoon tech support lessons (Rik got his first iPad in Trang last year and his first iPhone just before his arrival here – he was a true PC guy before seeing what we do with our mobile devices and wants to learn more than I know) and a movie after dinner (if we eat early enough). Rik comes with about 50 movies loaded on his laptop so we get to see the pick of his litter.

Rik’s biggest tech discovery this week was learning that he could track his missing Apple device (Find My iPhone) from anywhere. Almost every question he asks causes me to dig deeper into iOS which pleases both of us: him for an answer and me for a solution and new feature or technique.

IMG_0859They’re also joining us for Panang Curry and Cashew Chicken at least once a week.  Their main interest, besides relaxing in warmer weather than Europe is combing the beaches for sea shells.  Louisa is quite a collector and even brings a field guide to shells of this region.  Rik has commissioned the restoration of one of the Trang Cycling Club’s road bikes so he can ride and train during his absence from the continent.  At 71 he’s a very strong rider and enjoys the longer rides (100+ km like they do in Belgium) rather than the pre-dawn rides I make 5 days a week.

IMG_0857This week Rik and Louisa visited their favorite “crab lady” on the coast and brought back 12 or more local Andaman Sea crabs.  These guys are really small and getting the meat out is only for the aficionados, however for those willing to make the effort the meat is really tasty.  It’s nice having friends come back to Wassana Guesthouse just like we do each year.


The weeks go zooming by, and we’re almost half-way done with our 4 month hiatus.




Sunday Hike-a-bike

Lest you think it’s all reading, studying and eating lately, last week the Trang Cycling Club accepted a Sunday invitation to be guided thru the mountains 20+ miles to the north of Trang.  Thirty-six riders headed out for the adventure in Huai Yot but a mutiny forestalled 2/3rds from following the route.

But before discussing the crazy ill-fated ride, let me describe an interesting prologue to the actual ride.  Our gathering spot for all Sunday rides is the Dugong Fountain and as twelve or more riders gathered and primped each other’s rides, pumping tires and lashing down gear, a group of 4 20-something road bike riders with matching Mickey Mouse jerseys rounded the fountain.  Eyeing our bikes and jerseys, they came round once again and pulled up to the curb in front of the group shouting “come, come let’s take a photo” in English no less.  The Thais, always game for a photo op, lined up with the new riders and it was then that I realized these were Malaysian “boys” who’d come up from the South and were heading back home Sunday morning.

Malaysian boysMore and more of our group materialized, and now almost 20 strung out for the photo.  Then a black economy sedan pulled up and 4 young women with cameras, who obviously were the wives of the riders, jumped out to take photos or pose themselves.  What was way different for the image was that the four young women were all dressed in modish jeans, tennies and head scarves.  These were Muslim couples from Malaysia, where English is a local second language, training by riding to Trang for the weekend. Biking is an International language.

This year the Club has more older and probably less experienced riders showing up for the Sunday rides: at least 4 older women in their 60’s as well as a handful of men with their ample bellies I’d never believe would don a lycra jersey. So as briefed several weeks IMG_0787before, we don’t set a pace that would discourage anyone from participating. It was a highway shoulder ride to a break point at 20 km and the group gathered up once again before pushing up several rollers the last 10 km into Huai Yot.  There we met up with the local Cycling Club president and learned what was in store (or at least those who speak Thai learned).  Incidentally everyone but me was on a mountain bike, since I didn’t get the memo that this would be a trail ride.  

All was well until we got on a heavily washed-out rubble mountain bike trail where I got a flat.  I should have checked the pressure before leaving the house, normally my 25c Gatorskins at 100 PSI handle everything I hit.  IMG_0797Ended up we took a wrong turn onto this rotten section and returned over the same ground. And then into a never-biked rubber-tree plantation bumping up and over each tree’s roots along the rubber-tree tapper’s trail, where the local leader indicated he’s lost.  Back out to the road and then off again on another dirt track, this one beyond a hillside rubber plantation and into the steep jungle.  I heard “sam lo” and interpreted it to mean “only 3 kilometers”, which ended up pretty accurate.

IMG_0791Only problem was we had to carry our bikes most of that way, hiking up thru the jungle on footpaths only the Thai mountain people use.  Within 100 meters of this venture 2/3rds of the group mutinied and turned back down the slope and we didn’t see them again for 4 hours.

IMG_0802Not believing it could get any worse and that this short 30-minute slippery slog was only an aberration, twelve of us literally “carried on” (bikes over our heads – on a steep slope it’s not possible to hold a bike waist high because the wheels hit the ground in front of you before you can take a step).  Glad to have my road bike for this section.

IMG_0800At the top of the final uphill section I came across a 40′ high male Papaya tree and shortly thereafter found two 20′ female ones overloaded with ripening fruit.  Lashing two six foot sticks together was just long enough to reach 4 of the ripest 16″ papayas, one at a time. Since it was a couple hours past lunch the group enjoyed ravenously devouring the sweet red fruit.  Mr. Yao had to carry a number of the groups’ bikes up the last pitch just to pull the group back together.

HauiYot elevationsDown the mountain was less strenuous but no less treacherous, until we came to another hillside rubber tree shack and it’s mountain-bikeable trail to the paved road.  I’m not quite sure what the point of this guided route was about, obviously they hadn’t checked it out or even thought it out ahead of time.  Nevertheless, if laughing and joking were a criteria for a good time, a good time was had by all.  One stop in town for a very late lunch at the night market being set up fueled us up for the 25-mile home run.

Mileage for the day wasn’t what we normally knock off but it took all day from 8am to 5pm.


Just like the medical school student who studies a new disease then finds those symptoms everywhere she looks, I’ve found the last two books I’ve read are particularly relevant to things I wished I’d known earlier and could apply to current circumstances. Now I must qualify that reading, for me recently, has been audio versions of these books. Nonetheless they still impact me, I just don’t get to underline or make footnotes while I’m riding. (Audible does have a bookmark feature, it just doesn’t seem practical when the iPhone is in an armband or in my jersey.)

Pretty much all my “book” reading in Thailand has been on longer solo rides, like the daily 30km return from my morning Fahsang group ride. Most of my free time in our room here in Trang has been occupied with learning Thai this year. At this point I’m crossing the “see the teapot”, “Grandfather looks for the crab at the shore” [ปู่มาหาปูทะาล] milestone, after slowly advancing from the 44 consonants of their alphabet.  Vowels are coming; there are 15 of those and they manifest as diacritical marks, adding a new dimension to reading. My goal is simply basic conversation, however my Thai friends insist I can’t speak good Thai unless I know the alphabet, vowels and tones, because every “word” has a different meaning depending on the tone or inflection which is only indicated by how it’s spelled (and therefore pronounced).

ThaiLessonTotal language immersion would be overwhelming and nigh on impossible without the distractions of riding and reading. Not to mention ADL’s of eating, shopping, washing and eating that goes on daily.  I’ve been a avid subscriber to Audible ever since I mistakenly joined to provide entertainment for my Southern Tier Ride with Don Ahlert.  What I hadn’t anticipated on that ride, was it’s too dangerous to draft another bike and listen to audiobooks. It wasn’t until later, while standing watch coming from Honduras to Florida on DejaVu, that I realized how much I would come to enjoy audiobooks.

Audible has a annual high subscription cost of almost $180 a year (12 credits or books), but you then can watch for the bi-annual sales of hundreds of classics and special promotion books at $3.95 apiece.  Yes I know the library has audio books for free, but that system isn’t hassle-free or compatible with the “it just works” mindset I’ve grown accustomed to in the Mac world.  For a guy who probably averaged one or two books every five years for most of his adult life, consuming 20 or 25 books a year is remarkably rewarding (and worth the “catch-up” price).

Silly, but I don’t allow myself fiction unless I’ve earned my way thru 4 or 5 classics or best selling non-fiction.  Trying to catch-up requires discipline.  Right now I’m mid-way thru the next series of non-fiction titles and wanted to share those book names if you’re into suggested reading.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat” by Oliver Sachs was a really interesting look at how the brain works and stories of some classic abnormalities illustrating the brain’s amazing complexities. It’s especially relevant concerning the recent news on how iPod music thearpy is transforming formerly catatonic Nursing Home patients back to various forms of reality, or how tumors affect the brain. Fascinating book.

And Jack Cartier turned me on to his enjoyment of Great Coursesa large series of more than 450 lectures on wide-ranging topics like science, fine arts, history or business to name a few categories. Recently one of the $3.95 books was The Art of Negotiating the Best Deal by Seth Freeman.  I wish I’d heard or read about this one 40 years ago, even though it’s probably less than 5- or 10-year-old material.  Each day after a listening ride, I’ve got some point that’s worth applying or passing on to family or friends.  Like Jack, I’m trying to figure how to pass this lecture series on to others. Here’s a link to just one of his negotiating tips Iforesawit.

Just before these two was an interminable science book, about “purposeful knowledge creation,” I couldn’t stop listening to: The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch.  The heaviest book I’ve ever been exposed to and I’m sure I got less than 5% of it’s teaching, (Wikipedia Link) but was really interesting to “listen in” to someone who’s thinking and logic is that smart. I’m due for a lighter book so I’ve selected Michael Pollan’s Cooked.

Stanna is listening too: just finished I, Claudius by Robert Graves, which she had read years ago, and Augustus by Anthony Everitt, re-living both her years of Latin study and her trip to Rome & Pompeii a few years ago to finally see real Roman ruins.  Online books from the Durango Library thru the OverDrive app works for her as well, but sometimes the “return” deadline is problematic.


One of the contributing factors to the day-after “bonk” from my mountain ride was I found that the weekend looseness was the precursor to full-on TongSuea, the Thai word for trots.  Evidently it’s a very common malady affecting lots of people, and as is known, I try and eat everything.  Here are a couple of stories to explain just how common it is:

After self-treating the problem with Charcoal tablets, (the oft and previously recommended “medication” easily obtained  – only differing in dosage amounts depending on who you talk to) for a couple of days to no effect, I visited the pharmacy we’ve used probably once a year since coming to Trang, last time for ibuprofen for my recovering rotator cuff injury.  I’d researched the correct pronunciation of my problem, even though the chief pharmacist and his wife both speak passable English.

I noted with relief when Stanna and I entered the store that no one else was needing service from any of the three clerks, nor the woman pharmacist.  Just as I approached the counter with my Thai phrase, “I have Tongsuea” a little guy burst in with a box for delivery, and in true Thai fashion inserted himself between me and the counter asking to have help with his dilemma. All attention went to the local, as he’s easier to understand and far more interestingly in need, certainly.  Once the initial tumult dissipated, it’s back to me to announce, “I have Tonsuea”, and of course now every one is listening to me and repeats, as if to correct me, and help with the pronunciation in unison, “TONGSUEA”.  Even the little delivery guy chimed in “tongsuea”, so I raised my right arm, half in an effort to hide my reddening face, “Yes I”m the man with Tongsuea”, (in Thai BTW) and everyone had a good laugh.

With that, the man pharmacist came out to join in, asked how long it had been going on, and asked if I were taking Charcoal and if I want an “antibacterial”.  He gave me more charcoal tablets, 10x the dosage that had been recommended by my friends but only twice a day. Within 12 hours I’m sold and now will use the mega-dosage routine if the need arises again.

Food CourtFor the second story, we then went to visit our favorite lunch spot to have BaMeNam (yellow noodle and pork ball soup) at Mr. Wat’s and his wife Mrs. Jellie.  I passed on the ritual soup and went for the white diet of rice and plain boiled chicken, KowManGai. Wat, who is a large boisterous and hyper cycling friend, wondered why I was not eating soup and only half my meal. I should interject here that neither Mr. Wat, his wife nor any of the folks in the quasi-open-air food court speaks English (yes, there is a new girl that can understand and say a few words but never a conversation).

I twisted my fist over my stomach and whisper,ed “Tongsuea”, and Wat clearily understanding shouts, “Tongsuea” laughing either at my pronunciation, predicament or both, knowing him. Now the entire food court, all the vendors & customers, know I’m plagued, and you can see laughing and them wrenching their brows in concern trying to figure how to help.  Thai people are wonderful about helping.

In a effort to forestall all the outpouring of suggestions I ask Stanna to produce the medications we’d just procured.  Mrs. Jellie, Wat’s wife (who’s come over from her stall) tries to decipher the prescription and instructions, reading them in Thai, of course, for everyone.  Nods all around that I’m in good hands, but then there’s the worry I don’t understand, “Nueng tablet, song khrang wan, lang an hahn”.  Which I was told in the pharmacy, and actually is basic enough Thai that even I know when spoken in Thai.

IMG_0812But Wat who knows I don’t yet speak much Thai (he has no English except Happy Birthday), takes on the responsibility of insuring me, and the entire food court, that I know when to take the tablet.  He sits down next to me, slides my half eaten KowManGai over in front of him, takes the tablet packet and gestures with one finger, “nueng tablet”, turns completely around with his back to the table and slaps his back shouting “lang”, and then round again to the plate of food, motioning an eating gesture, “ah Hahn”.  And for clarification he does the pantomime once more.

You can imagine the interest and pleasure everyone felt watching Wat communicate absolutely perfectly that I should take only one tablet after eating twice a day.  I’m loving Thailand and get tears of laughter on a regular basis. Lest anyone’s concerned, we are well taken care of here in Trang.

Rally Day


Riding in large groups (this one 500, The Iron Horse 2,500 or the Denver Post Ride 2,000) always seems daunting and disinteresting until you get caught up in the crowd; everyone smiling, laughing and talking, all classes of bikes (95% mountain bikes) in various states of condition and repair, young and old, costumed and serious lycra. Stanna would have been an average rider in this Rally, had we known, she could have easily kept up with the governor and his minions.

Group Photo TCCOur group from Trang (36 in all, only 10 “camped” – see previous post) opted not to ring tosscompete in the Rally, which I later learned was similar to a Poker Rally where a rider, or team in this case, draws a pre-numbered hard-boiled egg out of a slotted box, or tosses 3 heart rings around a soda bottle (other two tallies I missed).  We rode, en mass, to four of Pattalung’s feature attractions for a total of 60 km or 36 miles.  The second stop, Tale Noi, is most famous for it’s massive inland sea and expansive floating red lily pads as well as long-tail cayuga’s.

This is not a racePictured left is my coach and Trang Cycling Club leader reminding me, “this is not a race, we are not competing.”

IMG_0719Kickoff breakfast was the traditional thick rice (think oatmeal) porridge with pork clumps. Each stop, some less mileage than others, we were offered fruit and water. (Eggs if you competed or were a foreigner who didn’t know they were only for teams.) At the Forest stop (see below) we got more bananas and small cakes and just before that at the waterfront the prized “egg bananas,” Soy milk drink or sugared tea.

We donned purple event T-shirts (100 Baht each – $3 only – entry fee) and followed the Governor out to Pattalung’s famous peninsular plaza to get a 270° view of the lake and then off to Tale Noi.  All this is flat land, delta, so everyone could manage, only the saddle sore complained. One hill leaving the lake-IMG_0770shore separated most and I got caught up in the climb putting me precariously close to the first 100 riders.  A young group of guys on road bikes zipped by in an obvious challenge to the older farange.  So I drafted them till they tired and realized a mountain bike with TT-bars was behind me and wanted to show his mettle.  As Joe Berry says, “It’s always a race.”  I pulled him up to the lead pack, a group of 8 drafting in two rows behind the lead police pickup truck.  Needing a rest I decided to catch their tail for the draft, and shortly thereafter the lead police truck turned and stopped in a National Forest not knowing where to go next.  I desperately needed a piss stop so slid right on by the leaders, and around the bend, saw a road guard waving me on down the road.  Three road guards and as many turns later, found me climbing into the stage finish line to the astonishment of the officials.  Embarrassed to best the locals, I rode right on thru to find that tree I was needing.  I stayed in the middle of the pack for the rest of the ride.  For the record, only 8 of us rode the Rally with all our touring camping gear.  My 19-year-old Trek fitted with Revelate Saddle pack and MYOG frame pack below.

IMG_0707hugsFun day that lasted until 2 pm and then that group of eight challenged the mountain once again from the east side.  At first we rode as a cohesive group, leaders waiting at hilltops for the rest.  As we neared the top, the Berry phenomenon took hold and three of us depleted every electrolyte in our bodies sprinting home.

I didn’t know about the depletion of body reserves until the next day, I could barely get motivated to eat. A downward dog mimicked a sway-back horse and the calves took hours to recover from just one pose.


As per usual, I never quite know what the Trang Bicycle Club has planned for each weekend, and this one was normal except that I learned there was a ‘Childwren bicycle’ at the Sport Arena and then “we go camping”. You’ve already viewed the kids event in the previous posting and now here’s the “rest of the story.”  Since we weren’t sure what was in store, camping and event-wise, Stanna didn’t come along either on her mountain bike or the scooter.  Ends up she could have enjoyed the Rally in Phattalung, just not the ride over the mountain and back.

As those who’ve followed in past years know: Camping means loading a bunch of boxes, bags and tents on your bike (one guy always straps a good-sized hatchet between his rear hub and rear rack), and sallying off to some location where we more often than not pitch our tents under some building, like a large carport or several times in open-air temples.

Khoa Pub PaClimbing the Phattalung mountain – Khao Pub Pa – between Trang and the east coast is no big deal, a Coal Bank but longer climb, doable by all, just varying in summit times (sometimes by as much as 45 minutes). On the way down, right from the summit, we were in rain, rain and more rain all the way to our camping spot. If I haven’t mentioned it already, riding in the rain is only “wet” with no cold associated with the endeavor.  In fact any rain protection only serves to make you hot inside and thereby wet from sweat, so it’s best to just cycle in a single shirt or jersey and air dry if and when the rain stops.

IMG_0665Coming in ahead of the pack (sorry but it’s a habit) I was given a high-speed escort thru the town to our camping location since I had no idea where we were going, the County Water department headquarters.  Nice grounds, lawns and etc. but the General Manager IMG_0811had the second floor administration office desks pushed aside so we could camp inside with “air-con”.  Bizarre to say the least.  I pitched my tent next to the King, and the only Faux Pas I made was temporarily draping my damp sarong on the Thai flag standing next to the Royal Shrine. (It’s hard when you can’t explain – “it was just until I got my tent up”.) My tent’s in the thumbnail left, between the GM’s desk and the King. Normally camping only requires a tent and air mattress, but I use a silk bag liner just for a little extra warmth and protection.  With the Air Conditioning on I needed the sarong as a blanket, just to hold the body temps in.  I lingered in the bathroom during the middle of the night nature call just to warm up (only the bosses’ offices are air conditioned).

IMG_0664The Rally: but first you know the Thai hosts always provide generously, and dinner was no exception.  That was downstairs in the supervisors’ office where they once again spread the desks, put down newspaper and served a five-course Thai dinner plus bananas for dessert. Fortunately yoga for the past several years has allowed me to sit cross-legged, but only for short periods and never on a terrazzo floor (my lateral malleulos’ just aren’t hardened to that pressure).  I saved face by switching legs often.

Guess I’ll jump to the next post since this is over 500 words already.




Lots of Bicycling this weekend

IMG_0662In the States we have Bike Rodeo’s that promote safe cycling, and rules of the road for youngsters, oftentimes with a model roadway with lanes, signage and education.  Here in Trang it’s been a feature event during National Children’s Day, along with major performances by all the local school groups taking the stages with dance and song. Hundreds and hundreds of school-age children and families (mostly mothers) come to the Sports Arena complex for the all-morning events.

IMG_0656kid foodThe Trang Cycling club gathers traffic cones, goodies (packaged snacks donated by City, Toyota Dealership and other businesses), sets up a tent, tables and chairs and arranges for City Hall-owned bikes and tandems to be delivered to an asphalt playground within the Sports Arena complex.

Not sure what to expect, especially since the plan to inaugurate an educational layout fell though, we set up eight cones, strung Toyota flagging around an oval circuit and waited next to the tables bedecked with hundreds of bags of snacks, pencil packs, and notebooks.  Five shaky but serviceable tandems and five more equally tired regular bikes sat by waiting for riders, while throngs filed by to the big top, a permanent cavernous shed that covers at least a soccer field or more of playing fields.

IMG_0661As it was, we soon became swamped with hundreds of kids vying for a chance to ride a bike round and round and round the simple track.  There is no way they could handle an “education-type” venue in that melee of kids and parents taking their families, sometimes four, on a tandem round the loop.  Kids too small or without a parent got behind Club members on the tandems for a spin.

IMG_5542That snack table became enlarged and overwhelmed when the ice cream cone cylinder and Popsicle cooler showed up just before noon. My job was to turn the bikes around and set kids off clockwise (left side of the road).  Being a Farang (foreigner) was a novelty and sometimes intimidating for the kids, but it helped with my Thai to say the same thing over and over, and it must have been okay because I posed for a lot of family photos.

Culturally the difference is that we’d want order, education and no liability.  For the Thai, they don’t worry about liability (National Insurance, few tort lawyers and a “kids fall” attitude).  They just want to promote the fun of cycling even if it’s just round and round on clunky bikes.  Works for me, I had a great time. We probably got 300-500 folks round that tiny tiny loop.

Weekend continues with a Rally over the mountain.


I’ll have to admit right up front, I just heard the term “fun-employed” from Stanna’s blog sources.  Can we really use this for a job description or status? It sure fits for many of us and I’d prefer it to “retired”.  Wonder if I should change my Rotary classification to that? Probably shouldn’t use that term when filling out those entry visa’s, as I’m not sure that transliterates real well and could get one denied entry, thinking you were unemployed. This is certainly the first “meme”* that I’ve truly understood.

IMG_0618Bird Song Competition. This form of strictly male sport is unknown to us in the states. At least it is to me. It doesn’t quite rival bull fighting, the kind where it’s bull against bull, but it does appeal to a lot of men in these rural Thai communities.  Contests take place several times a week in most communities, and it costs Nok contestabout 200 Baht ($6.50 – 2/3 a day’s minimum wage) to enter your bird.  Prizes for local competitions run about 3,000 baht ($100 – well over a weeks pay).  Birds are judged on how many times they chirp in 20 seconds and on the quality and tone of the song.  Four Judges mark scorecards under the cages of each bird and owners have to stand back 5 meters, but can flap their arms or squawk in encouragement. It’s quite common to see these birdsong competitors transporting their aviary contestants in covered cages, one on each side of their scooter passenger’s extended knees. I’d guess these guys are also fun-employed, as long as they don’t lose too much on the side betting.

Enjoying reading your blog again today and was very interested in the bird-singing contests because when I was a young lad my dad bred singing canaries and entered into weekly competitions in the local “big” town. The birds were judged on several types of trills, chirps, warbles and one special one was from Germany that had a guttural sound. Just a couple of days ago I was explaining the hobby to Jill and how my dad had this shed in the back yard that was about 15′ by 8′ and had cages all along the long wall. He kept a log book on the birds with their lineage and contest results so that he could determine the pairs that he would breed. Captain Al

IMG_0609Once again I got in another longer Sunday Ride and this one challenged me with a significant highway climb, closely akin to Coal Bank hill north of Purgatory.  Wish I could say I was first up the hill, but I got bested by one of the Fahsung guys by about 10 meters. I’ve ordered a replacement dropout for my Trek road bike and that will give me that lowest gear again.  Right now it pings the spokes so I’m reluctant to go down that low.

Mileage, (do they say “kilometerage”?) for the week was 430 km, so the weather has allowed more consistent riding, albeit a couple days were totally wet ones.  Strange to ride in the rain and not be cold.  Photo is from one of the many waterfalls in close proximity to Trang.

strava logPictured is the Health App Dashboard from the iPhone. Using it in conjunction with Strava, another App for tracking rides, runs, steps etc., helps me keep better track of the mileage, calories and distances.  I like the automatic syncing that transpires.  If I add a bluetooth heart rate monitor I could have that data as well. Never thought to use it while hiking, that will have to be incorporated next Spring.  (It’s just another part of Younger Next Year – making yourself get out everyday).

For those curious, or compulsive like myself, you can also see how you’re doing on repeated intervals (same sections of road or track).  What I didn’t realize was your interval time goes out into the cloud and ranks you on the climb or stretch.  I now have some local wanting to “friend” me because of my ranking on the morning hill.

Very soon Apple will be ratcheting up it’s HealthKit App development partners, so the world (and security services) will soon be tracking much more than mileage. They’ve had Bluetooth scales that graph your weight but I want one that syncs with the Health App and doesn’t cost as much as a Nest thermostat.  FWIW I’m not planing on an Apple Watch, but never say never.

Stanna supping

Another visit to Mai Muang, our favorite restaurant, with another round of Panang curry and shrimp tempura. And yes, the photo on the wall to Stanna’s right is the Beatles pre-Ringo.  And they put on the English-language music when we show up.

We’d say eat your heart(s) out, but that’s what we’re doing.

Trying to be helpful

IMG_5456As all cruisers know, water pumps are the same all around the world, they just vary in size, voltage and application.  This one was on a plank suspended over a well.  Termites preferred the underside of the plank until they gnawed too much and the pump went all the way to the bottom.  All it took was drying out, a little buffing the armature and sanding the contacts to get her running again.  Bearings are noisy, but she’s working.  With 220v you have to get the polarity correct or the impeller turns backwards.  Fun to get my hands dirty again.


We’re promoting Colorado and Janet’s ScenicSacks here in Thailand, a place where the plastic bags outnumber dogs lying in the streets.  These are better gifts than “dustable” tchotchkes and it’s fun to see them being used in the land of the ubiquitous plastic bag.  Good news is one of these sacks will hold about 6 of their bags so you don’t have to festoon the scooter with little baggies swinging down the road.  Wish we’d brought more than 8 with us, we have enjoyed giving them as gifts to our friends.

IMG_0531Continuing on the helpful theme, we arranged to borrow a road bike for our Belgian friend who will be returning to Ban Wassana mid-January.  This vintage road bike has an interesting story, it turns out. 30 years ago this was the first road bike for sale in Trang and was listed for 40,000 baht ($1,250) which was more than a local had to pay for a motorcycle (scooter).  Evidently it IMG_0539never sold as mountain bikes were more popular and affordable, as they still are today in Thailand, so the owner donated this bike to the Trang Cycling Club and it’s been loaned out and around for most of it’s life.  I’ve gone back to our favorite bike “shed” and gotten the cables replaced and the bike tuned for $12.50.  When we tried to raise the seat for me and our Belgian friend, the clamp IMG_0557stripped requiring us to fabricate, “cruiser-style”, a replacement bolt for the aluminum fitting.  Believe it or not just behind us in the photo was a new 70,000 Baht ($2,750) Giant carbon mountain bike in for a tune up as well.  Always something to work on where ever we go, however I kept away from the Giant bike on the stand.