Trang – Day Cycle Tours

We’ve met a British couple, Haydn and Sian, (and 5 year old daughter Hanna) who’ve come to Trang from China where they worked 8 years.  They settled in Trang about 8 months ago and Hadyn is planning to promote day cycling trips here thru all the internet avenues – social media and a web site.  He’s savvy on all the promotion and web based set-up, but lacking in suitable routes since all the Tourist info features direct routes on major highways.

Haydn would like to route his tours exclusively on backroads, which are virtually empty in southern Thailand. My maps of cycling routes around Trang (available beneath this site’s Header banner) use only major highways, so I’m helping him find and record backroad access to Trang’s favorite sites.  The added advantage of backroads travel, besides being slower and allowing cycling two abreast (not to mention safer), is that you can see how the people live, work and play.

Gaia ExampleNext project is to learn how to place those gpx files on the blog so that they can be downloadable. I’m using the GAIA GPS app on my iPhone to collect the tracks.  We’ve been using GAIA GPS for several years to track almost all of our hikes because the free, easily downloadable, topo maps give use USGS quality contours.  Open Hiking Maps, a subgroup of Open Source Maps (OSM), has world wide too maps for free download.  We used this source on our Switzerland hikes, downloading the gpx tracks before we left home.


iPhone in Rice

While endeavoring to insure my iPhone didn’t get wet when wading in the waterfall cascades this weekend, I dropped the phone into an 18″ pool of clear fresh water. I could still see the home screen lit up underwater.  It took about 10-12 seconds to rescue the phone, but about 45 seconds to get it turned off.  (My Gaia GPS was still tracking and I didn’t want it operating when it was wet.)

I vigorously shook the iPhone trying to sling out any water from the bottom phone orifices and inadvertantely turned it on again. Since I was an hour away from any rice options, I let it sit in the direct sun for an hour, and then once I managed to buy raw rice from a restaurant I packaged it up in a spare ziplock bag.

Local Ride mapThere won’t be any photos from this weekend’s ride at this point. It was a leisurely 85-km ride checking out the backroad routes to Trang’s favorite sights. I’ll be happy to use it again as a camera if the intensive-care bag trick works. It’s been 24 hours at this point and I’m patiently waiting another 24 with the bag in the sun.



Update: iPhone is working just fine after 48 hours in the rice bag and cooking in the direct sunlight.

Real happy to say the least.  Read that I should have taken the SIM card out as well but I’d be worried that rice would have gotten inside that slot.

All’s well again.


Too Many Ride Choices

Beach Camp

This weekend there were too many rides to choose from, so an overnight to the beach sounded different from the rest.  Unbeknownst to us another ride was scheduled late afternoon near the coast where we were camping. Surely the group knew, just never seems to make it thru in the translations.

500 cyclesFortunately we learned this the day before the ride, and Stanna was able to hitch along with TigerSong’s support truck with her bike, where 500 of the Governors’ friends would meet us for the opening of the PakMeng Food Extravaganza.

The current Trang Province Governor is keen on cycling and with TigerSong’s help and IMG_5158encouragement the local District governors are following suit and arranging mass bicycle rides or parades to kickoff many local events.  No trophies or speeches this time, remarkably.  Just a commandeering of the beach-front highway for 20km while the 500 cyclists made a loop along the Andeman Seashore at PakMeng.

The camping contingent had already staked out it’s claim on the beach and park facilities on the Marine University’s 3,000 rai (6,000 acre) ocean front campus about 10 km from the tourist beaches and pier.

Park BuildingsHere we “occupied” an apparently seldom-used ecology center off the beach where we hijacked enough power to operate the rice cooker, tea pots, toaster and Karaoke machine.  It’s not the first time this group prefers to “camp” under shelter as we’ve “camped” with our tents in temples, and office buildings.

Camp FoodThai BreakfastMr. Cho catered the two-day event with kit from his restaurant so we sup’d on lunches, dinner and a large breakfast for 20.  (Think river trip with electricity.)

You’ll notice a British couple and their daughter, who recently moved to Trang from China, joined us.  They are avid and strong cyclists who finally joined the Trang group for some of their organized rides.  We look forward to riding with them again.

We never even heard about, and consequently missed, the Sunday ride with the Province Governor and his cadre of most of those 500 riders who did a 70-km ride to Huai Yot.  TigerSong has alerted me to his March ride in advance where he’s pushing the kilo-mileage of the governor to 100 K south to the mountain waterfalls.


Couples Valentine Ride

Pak Meng Beach

Surprising that we found an empty stretch of beach (and a young couple to take our picture) after finishing the Andaman Sea Valentine’s Day ride from Trang to
PakMeng. IMG_5053The organized ride for 400+ riders (only 75 or so couples) left Trang en mass (after the requisite speeches and group photos) escorted by highway patrol sirens, an advertising sound truck and flanked by 40 cycling marshals wearing highway safety vests.


ArrivingA number of couples were on tandems, several had stems of rose buds festooned on their helmets or jerseys and all were in a jolly mood.  PakMeng is the closest beach area only 40 km (24 miles) from Trang and to Stanna’s good fortune only has a few hills and a couple of rollers along the way.  Since we live 7 km out of town it



makes for  a 90-km ride there and back.


We saw a number of husbands lending a hand on the uphills, but Stanna managed every hill on her own.  Many of the riders had pickups meeting them after the ceremonies and lunch, so most riders didn’t ride back on their own.


Lunch was provided, but we enjoyed the well-deserved Magnum ice cream snacks while waiting for the remaining field of riders to finish.

And as you’re aware by now, there’s lots of ceremony in Thailand.  This ride was not to be outdone, as we all received inscribed trophies commemorating the event presented by the provincial governor and his wife (to every single rider), not to mention the pink cycling jerseys.  We were called back onto the stage and given the honor of presenting the trophies to the Governor and his wife for their riding participation.


Food Porn

Shrimp Tempora

Jumbo Shrimp Tempora

We haven’t featured much “food porn” this year, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t still taking photos of most of our meals.

Glass Noodle Salad

Glass Noodle Salad

Noodle Salad

Noodle Salad







We often tell the story of when we were trying to decide where to travel after Paradox and our stent of house-sitting. We generally asked folks who’d been traveling just where they liked, and would recommend we visit next. Thailand always came up on everyone’s list. And the only thing they could quickly bring to mind was “You’ll love the food”, or “the food… the food.”

Fish Fest

A few of the more than 100 crabs served to 20 people at one of our island bicycle overnights

Now on our fifth trip we are still raving about “The Food”. And, not just the cost or value of Thai food, but the quality and tastes. Just a couple days ago we finally Pad Thairemembered we hadn’t even had Pad Thai this year: a basic staple that costs 20-25 Baht (80 cents) and is available everywhere. “A-roi”: the Thai word for Excellent. I ordered Pad Thai in Durango several years ago and paid $8.95 at a simple Thai restaurant.


We learned an expression when we first arrived in the Rio Dulce, Guatemala on Paracas.  One of the cruisers announced the minute she tied up at Mario’s Marina, “The Galley is closed.”  While in Thailand we are doing what that Texas lady in the Rio did and incidentally what we believe most Thai families do: bring food home or eat out.

Chicken Red Curry

Chicken Red Curry

Duck & Rice

Duck & Rice







We do have a small concession to eating “every meal” out, in that we’d discovered German Muesli in 1-kilo bags that we eat for breakfast most mornings with yogurt.

Cashew Chicken

Cashew Chicken

Sweet & Sour Chicken

Sweet & Sour Chicken






We are very partial to one restaurant that serves “the best” Panang Curry and even though it’s way on the far side of town, 12 km from our home, we scooter over there at least once a week.  Stanna even had a lesson in that restaurant kitchen last year, but just can’t quite duplicate the cook’s heavenly taste when she tries it at home.

Our three favorites at Mi Mueang

Our three favorites at Mai Mueang

We have at least four restaurants we like to hit each week, each has a different menu and we’ve actually rated them by quality, quantity, and value.  Depending on our lunch schedule we’ll choose one over the other.  Most of our evening meals are take-home foods we gather on the way home from shopping or we just zip over to the University food stalls or the large outdoor market minutes from our home.

Yam Mu Ya with seafood provided by a friend

Yam Mu Ya with seafood

Occasionally we’re treated to a meal or dish prepared by one of the Thai tenants in our complex or given a meal by one of our friends in town.  Never knowing what we’ve been given is always exciting, so we ask our owner-host at Ban Wassana how to serve it and what we’re enjoying, oftentimes sharing the large meal with her family.

Penang Sea Bass

Penang Sea Bass

BBQ'd Baby Squid - So much better than Calamari

BBQ’d Baby Squid – So much better than Calamari







IMG_4946Here’s the Mai Mueang Menu with English translations, in case you’re curious.  This is regarded by our Thai friends as “pricey,” however you should note that 100 baht is $2.80

When the average meal is 40 Baht or $1.15, this restaurant is a splurge, but we’re managing,








Shrimp Fried Rice

Shrimp Fried Rice

Camping food

Camping food



Coconut Snack

Coconut Snack

Spicey Seafood Salad

Spicey Seafood Salad

Chicken Fried Rice

Chicken Fried Rice

Farm Tour

Pre Chopping Up

Durango has offered a “tour of farms” bicycle ride for the last several years, but we’ve never managed to participate, and I’ve always wished I had after reading the write-up in the Herald.  Trang had it’s first ever “promoted” district farm tour. (The Sunday tours with a small [15 to 25] cadre of cyclist have visited a variety of rural businesses and endeavors, featured in this blog over the years.)

Sign InHowever, this weekend’s tour was sponsored by the local province and district (state and county) governments which drew a first-time crowd of about 150 riders. It’s an extension of the “bike lane” advocacy program that’s sweeping across Thailand.  The only thing missing from this event was the T-shirt.  They met at the  “bike park” under development beneath the bridge, with a sound system (minus the stage), speeches (probably preaching to the choir), and morning treats (hot chocolate, tea and Thai donuts).

IMG_4990Definitely the slowest paced tour arranged by any organization, but considering the folks along for the ride it was perfect: children and grandparents all on a wide variety of bicycles, not to mention squeezing 150 riders on 2-meter bike paths thru the woods and back lanes.

In three hours (including the speeches)  we only covered 20 kilometers (12 miles), however we managed to eat and drink four times.

PigOur second stop was the most interesting since Trang is famous for it’s Mu Yang (Roast Pork) and we got to see a very small suburban (still inside the ring road) family roast pig operation, where they were waiting to pull the pork out of the subterranean oven.  Unbeknownst to us, we scooter by this place several times a week when going to eat at our favorite Panang Curry restaurant. As per usual, the farang (foreigner) got thrust forward so that everyone can take their photo with the dignitary, oddity or pig in this case.

I happen to really savor the Mu Yang here Mu Yangin Trang.  The Fassang (pre-dawn) cycling group finishes at the most popular mu yang dim sum restaurant at 6 AM every weekday morning, so it’s second only to Panang Curry for me. Which begs the point, do we cycle in Thailand to justify eating large qualities of food – including still juicy hot fatty pork roast?


Fruit MIsNext stop, about 20 minutes later, was a Mulberry farm (or what our translation provides). Sweet treats fashioned as for a wedding, we’re guessing, and a cold fruit cocktail as is served in roadside stands and stalls.

A Roi.

TreatsI should mention the group had 5 EMT’s on scooters doing intersection marshaling and first aid, and a lead truck with loud speakers and banner. Plus a professional photographer documenting the ride from all aspects, even standing on top of a scooter seat for a faux ariel.

On the roadTo round out the district ride, we visited a local Wat (Temple) where we supped on noodles and chicken…

and a special treat of an open dessert bar on a  3-wheeled ice cream cart.


Ice Cream cart


65′ Cat Dragonfly For Sale as well


We’d heard Dragonfly would also be on the market soon and just today found her listed at this Multihull Company site.  We’ve probably spent more time on Dragonfly than on Deja Vu, so we know this boat very well.  Our last trip with Dragonfly was in the winter of 2012-13 from Florida thru the Bahamas, Cuba, Dominica and on to Puerto Rico.

She’s a great boat, especially with a group of friends on board.  Plenty of room for all parties, be it in the spacious galley, around the large salon or entertaining the anchorage in the cockpit.

Pass this info on to anyone interested in a well travelled, spacious catamaran.  Currently located in the South Pacific doing medical support.

BTW – DejaVu is already under contract

Baby Wind & Songkla


Known as “baby wind” [mills], the LukLom competition adjacent to Trang, was full blown when we visited this last week.  Located along the rice field roads just before the wind funnels down into a Venturi created by two towering karsts, the Lukloms color and fill the skies with their palm tails, ribbons, dangling cones and spinning cups. Since last year’s competition they’ve constructed an elephant-flanked head-gate to the Khao Chang Hai Cave (a place we’ve visited numerous times with it’s legend of the lost elephant) which is part of the northern-most limestone karst rising out of the rice fields. I asked a couple I’d met if they could give me a reference and their answers should be quoted verbatim, so I’ve included it below.

Many LukLomThese baby wind mills are a relic of ancient times when these colorful and noisy contraptions were placed in the middle of the rice fields to ward off birds who fancy eating the newly planted rice shoots. Perhaps there aren’t as many avian marauders or the current technology of putting those errant flapping plastic grocery bags on posts in the newly planted paddies works just as effectively at half/no cost or labor. Now you only see the authentic crop saviors at the end of the harvesting seasons during the height of the Spring winds high along the roadside to be judged for their individual sounds, motion and frightfulness.

Andaman GatewayThere is a never-ending opportunity to pose  in front of one of the local attractions.  The Andaman Gateway is an elaborate rest stop half-way between the two coasts along the narrow peninsula between Trang and Phattalung. The pass over the mountains is only 750′ with a easterly ascent of about 5 kilometers, but it offers a challenge to cyclists and over-loaded trucks, who jockey for positions all the way to the summit. (In case you’ve not figured it out from the photo: Thais used elephants pulling giant stone rollers to compact those original roads – we saw a live demonstration of an elephant pulling a massive stone roller at an agricultural exposition last year.)

AndamanThis attraction has been under construction for several years and recently opened in our absence over the North American summer.  We watched them last year erecting wire mesh elephant forms  and then in following weeks painstakingly placing cement to give the forms a solid shape as we cycled past.

BronzeThey’ve done a remarkable job on this 10-acre hollow along the highway and we look forward to coming back and reading the history of how and when the original road was built.  (It was raining when we stopped.)  However, according to our host, the ancient King ordered the road built for trade between the coasts since the two rice growing seasons are opposite each other.  The 10 3’x 6′ bronze shields should give us the full story since they’ve taken the trouble to cast the history in English as well as Thai.

Our outing this week was accompanying TigerSong’s son to his embarkation station in Songkla, where he is picked up by an oil rig helicopter and transported to one of the rigs in the northern Gulf of Thailand.  He is a new materials engineer supervising cement blow-out caps for the daily underwater drilling operations.

Central MallThe contrasting cultural experience was visiting Hat Yai’s Central Shopping Mall, a dizzying 6-floor mega-mall with a central interior courtyard, escalators, international brand-name shops (we seldom see – even in the States) along with it’s indoor ice rink, I-Max theater and convention center.  Hat Yai is 3 hours over the central mountain range from Trang, on the East coast with 800,000 Thais in it’s metro area.  Quite a revelation for us as we’ve been in southern Thailand for 5 years now and never knew such a large city loomed over the mountain and south toward Malaysia.  We like our side with it’s urban population of 56,000 and hardly any tourists.

Thale Noi MarketFortunately on the way home, TigerSong took us up the coast an hour where we visited a newly constructed market at Thale Noi, where they channelled off a lagoon of the famous water lilly lake and built a perimeter of rambling elevated walkways of traditional Thai merchants selling traditional foods and handicrafts.  The stormy day didn’t offer many wonderful photographic opportunities.

Water BuffaloAlmost forgot to include a photo of the swimming herd of water buffalo we saw crossing the channel between their wetland habitat and the Thale Noi lake.  I’m eager to show anyone the video of them swimming and then rising up on a submerged bank.

Long day, but we’ve now seen new territory and some more of Thailand’s changing times.

Luk loms from Jum and Ken’s knowledge: A better translation may be “child of the wind” or “son of the wind”. Originally they were a type of “pest control” to keep birds and insects out of the rice fields around harvest time. Over time people began to try to out do each other and build the best luk lom and it became kind of a competition. Although no longer used for pest control, they tradition has remained and become what it is today, a local festival. According to Jum, this was once  widely done throughout the south, but had slowly died out, along with knowledge of its origins. But, again thanks to Jum and her curiosity for such cultural things, I can tell you what I learned when we first moved here.

 Like many other things in SE Asian Buddhist cultures it traces its roots back to the Hindu Brahman traditions and the Vedas. It is based on a legend where Vayu, the Hindi god of the wind, was busy with preparing for harvesting his rice crops and taking care of his other “divine” duties. Vayu had to leave for some reason (I cannot recall why, some sort of “divine mission”) and told his son to watch the rice crops and keep the birds from stealing it until he could return to harvest the rice. His son, who did not want to kill the birds (after all they were only trying to eat), realized he could not protect all of the fields at once and that if he used his power to control the wind to blow the birds from the fields that he would also destroy the crops. Being rather inventive, he designed the bamboo windmill which in Thai is known as “luk lom” to make noises and movements that would scare the birds (and insects / locusts) away from the fields. He could then place the windmills around the rice fields and use the ability to control the wind (he was the son of the wind god, after all) to blow the windmills, which would spin and make the “singing noise” from the hollow bamboo flutes on the ends of the blades, and the motion and noise would keep the rice field safe.

When Vayu returned he was very impressed and showed his son’s handy work to the other Vedas (? guardians?)  who were also impressed and told him to share this with the humans so that they could also protect their crops from the birds. And thus the origin of the tradition. 

Apparently, the origin myth associated with the luk lom is no longer as well known as it once was, just like building them. Another casualty of modernization and loss of cultural heritage due to the loss of knowledge and traditions no longer being transferred from generation to generation as people now keep their heads stuck in their smartphones rather than engaging in such personal interactions.


Koh Libong

Camp LibongTrangKohLibongOut first overnight excursion with the Trang Cycling Club – 3 T branch – was to Koh Libong, an island just southwest of Trang Province.  Only 50 kilometers from Trang, it is not a well-known tourist destination since there are only two guesthouses on the island and very few “farangs” venture this far off the roads.Boat Load

There aren’t any scheduled buses to the pier and any van would have to be hired special for the trip. You can “book” a trip there, but you’d have to know how in advance.
Longtail LoadBungalowThe cycling club knew of a small bungalow camp where they booked the whole place for the 3T cycling party. We loaded 2 long-tail boats with our loaded bikes and made the short 30-minute passage at about 9 knots. Cost was 420 Baht or $12 per boat

Accommodations were sweet and simple with open air private shower/toliet off the back of each of the six bungalows.  A number of the solo cyclists tent camped or slept in the “sala” (an open air version of a raised platform with a roof – a common feature of just about any rural home).

Mid Morning MealEven with a scheduled meeting time of 7 AM we didn’t arrive at the island camp until 2 PM, stopping a number of times on the 50 KM ride, longest for a feast of a breakfast in Kantang 20 km south of Trang.  No less than 10 dishes and 3 or more plates of each.  Plus you could order what you preferred such as our favorite pork balls and noodle soup.  3 T Buddies


An omelette is just scrambled eggs in Thailand and considered a side dish, so Dim Sums are the standard fare and most of those nuggets, though we have no idea what they’re made of, taste delicious.

GoPro of Selfie

Stanna hung out trying to figure how one takes a selfie in a hammock (captured with a GoPro) for her brother to envy, while the macho group cycled around the island.  The first goal was to scale the tallest Karst on the island which offered a hollow central rising cave with a few fixed ropes to help those climbing with sandals or cycling cleats.

scaling inside KarstNothing much in the bouldering or climbing scale but good to have an assistive aid to joke around on.

Even though it appeared lightly traveled the locals had installed ladders and viewing decks for those who do venture up to the higher vistas.


Karst Climb – Version 2

The iPhone GPS doesn’t give an accurate elevation but by the time we got up the second section we were as high as any of the offshore karsts.

As you can see Thai guys don’t generally take off their helmets when they walk around for a break or in this case climb a mountain.  Makes sense in this case, especially with bike shoes.

2nd SectionThe remainder of the afternoon was spent exploring the island’s dirt roads and opposite shoreline. At the speeds we went down those gnarly trails was more than enough exercise to top off a 100- km day and build up an appetite for the seafood smorgasbord.


Halfway thru

What started out as four dishes multiplied as they carried  more and more trays from the camp galley. We didn’t remember to take a photo until half the people were full and left the IMG_4889table for the booze and beer at the sala. There were four kinds of identifiable fish, including mackerel steaks, sea bass, dried splayed fish, and another that’ll go un-named.  BBQ’d fresh inked squid (like no calamari I’ve tasted), sea snails and, count them, over 100 palm-sized crab.  Mixed vegetables and 10 kilos of rice along with three or more special sauces.

You’ll note that part of the party package was the requisite t-shirt commemorating the event.  Thai people have a special shirt for everything they attend and this was no exception.  Breakfast the next morning was leftovers, crab, fish, sea bass and fresh rice.

Surely there are photos of some of us doing yoga on the beach at sunrise, because Facebook has the moment documented, we can assure you.  Interesting to note the 1.5-meter tide leaves the low tide water line in front the camp about a half a kilometer out.  If you had a dinghy you’d have to wait six hours or carry it a very long way.

Stanna and I cycled the 50 km home alone because many got rides in pickups and the hard core cycled the long way thru Pak Meng which I’d just done the weekend before.