Valentine’s Day ride – 2017

Too many people for individual trophies this year, thankfully. The 50-km Valentine’s Day ride to Pak Meng on Sunday the 12th was over 500 riders.  That’s a line of 2 by 2 bicycles 250 riders long; imagining 10-15 feet between them, it would stretch almost ¾ of a mile long. It was surprisingly orderly except when encountering hills and rubber-necking flat tires.

The pace was 20 km/hour (12 mph) so just about everyone could hold their place in line. The second vehicle in the parade was this street “illegal” sound truck that took every bit of a single lane and most of the shoulder with it’s crew of “mic jockeys” who cajoled, encouraged (and scolded the riders who rode outside the twin rows) for the entire length of the ride. When the new King was Crown Prince he led a couple of nation-wide rides called “Bike for Dad” (for his father, the King who recently died) and “Bike for Mom” for his mother the Queen; the theme song from one of those rides, sung monotonously, filled the roadway when the microphones weren’t blaring.

Stanna and I had ridden this event round-trip last year, earning our name-engraved trophy on stage with the Provincal Governor (everyone got one). But Stanna opted to use the motor scooter this year, anticipating high winds on the return journey.  However, she needn’t have worried, the organizers planned for the tired masses by recruiting a motorcycle delivery truck and air conditioned bus to carry at least 100 bikes and riders back to Trang.

Pak Meng is the closest beach to Trang and the departure port for many of the daily island tours. Only two foreigners were among the fleet, myself and a Frenchman I’d never seen in Trang. One thing we’ve gotten used to is having our photo taken with lots of complete strangers, so after the group photo we asked to have just us in one.

A number of other riders and I chose to take the long way home on lightly trafficked roads, south along the coastline thru a National Park, on to a hot springs and back to Trang thru Kantang, turning the holiday event into a formidable ride of 120 km over 8 hours.


Thai Waterfalls…

Thai waterfalls are generally more of a cascading mountain stream, rather than free-falling water dropping over a cliff or off a precipitous wall. And on any given weekend you’ll see far more Thais at a waterfall rather than the beach, even though it’s probably the same distance to both recreation spots.  Unbelievable as it may sound to Westerners, this country with ready access to lakes, ponds and ocean apparently has very few who actually know how to swim, but they love the water.

Our friends seem to prefer to frolic in the fresh cascading waters in the hills rather than the open seashore. The other striking contrast between Thais and foreigners here is that Thais don’t sport swimsuits, they prefer tee-shirts and gym shorts or just going into the water in their clothes.  Not an issue, since they aren’t swimming. It’s a real contrast to see Thais and Europeans at the same beach or water attraction: Russian, French or German visitors in their bikinis (or thongs) and locals fully clothed.

This last Sunday we took a short ride to SaiRoung Waterfall about 45 km from Trang. As mentioned earlier, the Sunday riders I like to ride with take a more leisurely pace, 10-15 MPH, stopping often for food, photos and refreshments. On hot afternoons, the first three-wheel ice cream cart we see usually has a windfall business. They serve a “home-made” ice cream in several flavors scooped out of their double-walled stainless cooler.  Cones or cups of ice cream are 10 and 20 Baht depending on how many 1 inch scoops you want. Not pictured, but popular, is the ice cream sandwich – 3 scoops on “Charmin” white bread.

Rides start with the obligatory Facebook photo, so that you can show who came that day.  Similar to the US, just about all digital communication is done thru Facebook. So if I miss a photo I can be sure to find one on a Thai Facebook site, as you can see with TigerSong’s credited photos.


One of the great pleasures of riding with the Cycling club members is they often take indirect and back roads. So the group doesn’t often contend with much traffic when wending thru hidden villages or bucolic rubber tree plantations. The pace is such that I get Thai lessons as we notice various curiosities along the way. They don’t seem to mind my repeating the same word 4 or 6 times until I get close.


Koh Mu (Sukorn)

Pig Island doesn’t sound to inviting, and it’s residents, primarily Muslim, don’t regard anything porcine positively, so perhaps that’s why they call the island Sukorn. But all the locals don’t recognize the name Sukorn when we tell where we’ve been, either because it’s a tourist name or it’s our pronunciation.

Almost every year the Trang Cycling Club, or some iteration of the members, makes an overnight foray to the island, and we were told that it’s recently been regarded as “Cycling Heaven.”  Normally our group is the only cyclists on the entire island. The two tourist guesthouses seem seldom frequented, but we have seen at least one tourist couple each time we take a boat across.  Those folks are whisked out of a van and on to the same long-tail boats we make the passage in, except that their boats always leave with just the “Farangs” (foreigners), leaving them with an exclusive boat ride of B500 ($15), where we pile in with the locals for B50 ($1.30 including our bicycles). As you can see we can get 10 bikes and 10 cyclists in the same long-tail boat.  Camping in these circumstances involves paying the headmaster of the school ($1 each) to allow the privilege of setting our tents up in a classroom.

This year the island elders were holding a special fund raising celebration where they planned to serve more than 500 visitors as evidenced by the tents, tables and chairs set up at the main school grounds.  They even promoted a “Bike for Charity” event with our own tent set side so smelly bikers didn’t mingle with the dressed-up locals, jerseys (for sale), and an unlimited buffet of Muslim dishes.  Of course we never know any of these details in advance as “surprise” is alway our default mode of adventure. This year our port departure was complicated with boat-loads of cyclists, not to mention pilgrims traveling to and coming off the island, making for crowded unloading and loading at low-tide cement stairs.

Unfortunately, Stanna didn’t get to go, even though she was suited up right up to departure time when she decided to stay home & dry. The rainy season, which has produced the Southern Thailand heavy flooding, produced yet one more weekend of torrential rains.  Not only did we need to start for the coast in a downpour, the forecasts, doppler radar and fellow Thais all said it’s two more days of deluge. All predictions were 100% correct. Cycling along the leeward coast on Sunday had me thinking of those days sailing in squalls where you put on your snorkel mask to see. Skies were black enough for double reefing for sure.

Go Cho, a local restauranteur, brought along his portable kitchen, plates, bowls and 30″ Wok, to provide us with the freshest of the day’s seafood.  For those that haven’t followed previous years’ overnight cycling adventures, all that kit fits into a scooter side-car (more of a third wheeled side-cart) for transport on the island(s) or off-road as the occasion requires. With a 50-meter extension cord he can plug in his 5-quart rice cooker and 2-liter electric water pot almost anywhere he can steal power.

It’s amazing how much Thais can eat.  We had a super buffet of stewed beef, stir fried vegetables and dried fish for lunch provided by the “Bike for Charity.’ Oh, and you can’t ever forget two heaping cooking-spoons of boiled rice as a base to heap everything else on top.  In just four hours Cho fired up a small earthen charcoal stove and Go Dang started grilling fresh salted squid. Calamari never tasted so good, even with a partially full stomach.

Meanwhile Cho was receiving small bags of fresh seafood from various locals whom he must know: two kinds of crab, orange and blue (for lack of a translation), jumbo shrimp and octopus.  The stormy weather yielded no fresh fish for the second course, although it did arrive after fresh fruit was served as a desert so they fired up their charcoal earthen BBQ once again and we pinched morsels off each of three whole fish as they came off the grill.

Considering this is a remote island with no regular delivery boats, the population of probably 3,000 has an amazing variety of food and supplies, all brought over one 3-wheel cart at a time from the long-tails to stock the small family operated Thai-style mini-markets.

Despite the heavy rains we still managed almost 20 miles of cycling around the island’s network of cement walkways, along the coast, thru the sidewalk villages, the rice and watermelon fields and most enchanting, the winding cement trails thru the rubber tree plantations.

We wimped out and loaded all the bikes into one pickup for the rainy ride home.




Some noticed on the Strava notes that I’d had an aborted ride about 19.8 km from Ban Wassana, our base in Trang.

The back story was that with all this wet riding I’d developed a noticeable “click” in the front wheel. I originally thought it was a broken spoke, but after checking and changing out front wheels I figured it was just the hub. I took the wheel to the mechanic (father and racer son) who swapped out my brake handles. [I may have left out that story – the used Dura Ace brake handles I’d purchased on Craigslist last year didn’t last over the summer storage. I found a new Sora set for B600 ($18) including installation.]

The shop owner said I should have all the bearings serviced, since that front one was totally out of grease, and they would do the complete bike – chain, brakes, hubs, headset and crankset – for B480 ($14).  I delivered the whole bike next morning and shortly thereafter got a call from our “fixer” friend SunSern.  He helps negotiate and translate all these complex deals.  They were having difficultly getting the bearings back in the bottom bracket cassette, after using water pressure to force it open.  It was probably a sealed cassette.

Needless to say, it was impossible to get the bearings and all back into the cassette without a special press and mandrel, but not without trying 3 other mechanics in town.  The shop found a new cassette to put in and I was satisfied that I only had to pay the wholesale price of the new cassette B480 ($14).  Riding home in the rain was fast fast and a sweet ride.

Next morning at 5 AM I took a new ride to test out the bike and at 18,9 km the right-hand crankset arm slipped off.  Fortunately I had cell service and Stanna arrived 45 minutes later (after going to town to fill the empty scooter gas tank) with the scooter to shuttle me and the bike back home.  Not an especially fun trip holding a bike high enough off the ground so wheels don’t touch from a scooter rear seat.

On closer inspection, it seems that the new cassette has larger splines than the crankset arm slots so the arms were only ¼ of the way onto the axle.  The locking bolt backed off and let the arm slip freely.



SunSern, my fixer, managed to convince the bike shop to bring the “bike ambulance” to pick up the bike at Wassana, and work once again on the problem.  This was on a Friday and we’d scheduled a 2-day ride to Sukorn Island the next day, so the pressure was on to find a fix.  They found a temporary cassette and chain wheel setup 50/34 to install and I was back in business by 4 PM.

The old DuraAce crank and new (larger splined) cassette are at a machinist to see if they can be milled, seated and married together.  At this point only the brake calipers on this 25-year-old Trek 2500 haven’t been replaced, but it still rides super.

Subtle Christmas

In case you’re wondering how our xmas holiday was in this primarily Buddhist (and minority Muslim) country, it was subtle at best.  Not only did it come 14 hours earlier, when most readers were still working or shopping, it’s presence was not much varied from a normal day. Being a Sunday changed the pattern somewhat, but the bank was still open for exchanging money, some kids were at school for exams, the markets were flooded with routine shopping, and folks basically went about their daily weekend lives.

We’d hoped our favorite Panang Curry restaurant would be “business as usual” on Christmas Eve but, alas, they posted a sign, “Closed until Tuesday.” Odd, but we found a second-best choice for a xmas meal, the “Happy Steakhouse” whose beef we’ve only sampled once (or twice as my father used to say, “first and last time”). The YinDee restaurant has a 20-page menu with all manner of Thai and New Zealand dishes. Folks probably wondered why the Farangs were dressed up in their best outfits at mid-day  but the non-steak food is delicious, prepared and served with pride. Splurging on a $3 dish with fancy trimmings seems special for this occasion.

Sunday, when the West was sleeping and Santa was cruising, we took our morning bike ride (Stanna), did yoga  (tg) and prepared for the Sunday ride (tg) with the Trang Cycling Club.  Last Sunday’s ride was cancelled due to an all-day rain, so this one was more of a formality, to meet up with all the riders from last year’s rides, and insure invites to this year’s outings. January 7th is evidently at the next weekend ride to our favorite outlying island, Sukhorn.

Of the thirty-some riders that showed up, a few chose to take me to see the newest bike path thru the forest near the Botanical Gardens. Fortunately I’ve remembered each of their first names and it’s fun to hear them laugh at my Thai “baby talk.”

Normally Sunday is an all-day adventure ranging 100-plus kilometers, but this turned out to be more nature study than long distance.

The cadence on the newest red paver trail was so slow it was possible to video while riding.  [WordPress limits uploads so the video will be shown back home on request.] Several times we stopped to see plants like the insect-eating pods on vines or the giant prickly and supple ferns stocks they make Rattan chairs from.  All this played out like Charades, my guides using pigeon English, hand signs and me guessing words.

One remarkable thing about cycling with Thais is that there seem to be no barriers that they won’t broach when it comes to checking things out.  They’ll often chat up anyone to learn about what’s happening along the way or, as on this Sunday, go behind the fencing into a construction site to see first-hand the work zone.


Seems the last Governor of Trang Province, who we cycled with many times last year, wanted to leave a memory for Trang cyclists.  The Bike the Andaman park is about 30 days from completion and we got a first hand preview up close and personal.  Under the arch they are still fabricating a limestone cave, many of which are famous in the area.

The cycling community has grown significantly since we first came 6 years ago.  Saturday I rode 90 km with a group from a town outside Trang (think Bayfield – pop: 1800) and they fielded over 20 really good riders.  By the way, we’re on the Andaman Peninsula about 80 km (48 miles) wide and the pass, once an impenetrable jungle, separated the two provinces.

Last year we posted photos of the Andaman roadside park on the pass with it’s elephant sculptures  and historic road building plaques.



Cognitive Overload

It’s certainly different waking up to chirping birds and colorful butterflies, not to mention the 74° morning temps. Everything is still very green and verdant as the rainy season is hanging on.  Birds and butterfly continue thru the day, geckos and crickets fill the night air with sounds when it’s dark.

Fortunately we’ve only missed one day of cycling due to the rain, and I’ll admit it was welcome because my ass wasn’t yet ready for an all-day ride. [Two days missed as of this morning] But I’m getting in the mileage, just not like the dry season.

Our unit this year is one the right with the red sarong on the chair.  We already posted our back door photo with the before and after flood waters.

One thing we’d like to note: The only time we get chop sticks in Thailand is when we order Baa-Me-Nam, a yellow noodle soup with several versions of pork balls and meat slices. It’s surprisingly hearty and filling. Cost is $1.05 with Chinese tea.



At least once a week we eat at this Thai couple’s food cart for lunch and order their very popular BaaMeNam.  They are part of the Trang Cycling community and often go on the overnight cycling trips to the islands with us. Mr. Wat is a competitive mountain bike racer at well over 100 kilos.  We only speak in laughs and show each other photos on our mobile devices.


Thai people often eat soup for breakfast or they can get Khoa-Man-Guy, a steamed white rice with several slices of boiled chicken on top.  For breakfast we prefer the yogurt and German Muesli we purchase by the kilo at the supermarket.

On rainy days I can always spend more time studying Thai.  Right now I’m trying to catch up to last year, remembering the 44 consonants and practicing the 24 vowels (which are diagrammatic marks before, above and below the consonants). I’ve never gotten very far into the vowels as that involves tones (low, high, neutral, rising and falling).  I can just barely read a word (a short word), because they don’t put any spaces between words – sosentencesrunwithoutbreak (the articles and prepositions are implied). The New York Times called it cognitive overload in a recent article on learning a second language, because native speakers speak at 250 WPM and non-natives struggle at 100-150 WPM.

ดูเหมือนว่าฝนกำลังจะตก  – “It looks like it’s going to rain” is an example. Then you need to parse the sentence when they speak/write, “looks like think rain ing will fall”. The experts say the best way to learn to speak Thai is to read it first.  See Dick Run is yet to happen.

Last Ride

Last Ride 2016

The last Sunday ride was perfect in that I got to ride with a smaller, faster group.  We met up with some Thai cyclists who were doing an 800-km 4-day ride from Krabi.  We met at the top of the pass and they learned we were going to a lesser-known waterfall which convinced them to follow us and delay their second 100-km of the day with a 50-km diversion. Our day was only 115 km.


We didn’t know at the time, but they had a support truck with a wife and daughter who met us at the waterfall with 3 watermelons. We each ate 3 of those large slices as our lunch in the upper pools of the waterfall.  The rider on my right is 65 and was an equal riding companion on the hills with me.

ChillinI didn’t think to check my Garmin until the last hour of the ride home when it showed 103°. No wonder chillin’ in the waterfall for an hour was wonderful. Interesting to note my Thai friend Mr. Yao started shivering in the pool after a half hour (no body fat and he had on his wet jersey).

In southern Thailand the Uncrowdednumerous waterfalls serve as one of the major recreation attractions for families.  It’s probably the reason most Thai don’t swim since sitting in a cool fresh water pool doesn’t provide much opportunity for the crawl or backstroke. To say that hundreds visit each Crowdedlittle waterfall on weekends would be an understatement.  We arrived just before 10 AM and hardly anyone was there, by 11:30 there were over 100 people in the pool below ours.


We’re retiring the bikes two Two Bikesdays before we leave just to forestall any last minute problems and store them in good condition for next year, or whenever we return.  This year I invested in an extra set of wheels so that I’d have a set for off-road touring as well as the early morning sprints.


Borthday BBQBBQWould you believe Thais sing “Happy Birthday” in Karaoke English at their birthday parties, or was it just that we were there? Nevertheless, we sang three rounds of Happy Birthday (changing Dear XXX to just another chorus without the personalization). Our friend Mr Wat and his wife Jel-li invited us to celebrate her 49th along with 30 other family and friends.  The blind-alley BBQ was the perfect setting for tables and chairs and having several carport woks available to cook the numerous courses.

Wat's Soup

Wat and Jel-li run the soup stand we frequent weekly. He’s also an avid mountain bike racer (despite his 95 kilos) and we’ve done a number of bicycle overnight island trips with them.



StatuaryAt the end of a sparsely populated paved road which crosses over and terminates at a river estuary, is a newly constructed Charcoal Kiln Museum. Everything excluding fictional the accounting office is outdoors or under that same office.  Life-sized characatuers of the people involved in the traditional harvesting and production of charcoal are Charcoal Muesumrepresented. Evidently major charcoal production has just recently been made obsolescent in southern Thailand as this outdoor museum depicts.  One question was unanswered by the museum (It was lacking in any written information or text) was just where was the forest of trees used as raw materials.

The museum was located in a clearing charcoal accountingof high ground along the densely overgrown Mangrove swamps lining the river. As TigerSong, our cycling companion and personal guide explained, “Mangrove trees are best for making charcoal as they are dense, grow rapidly, and use salt water for hydration.”

This all made sense when considering a similar location we’d seen in Cuba IMG_5352where the Granma came ashore along the southern coast with 81 rebels and Castro, in November 1956. Running low on fuel, Castro ordered the Granma to run around, unfortunately they landed on a spit of Mangroves where they labored for almost a kilometer to reach solid ground.  On that solid ground was a small charcoal producing family whose property and facilities are now memorialized. Cubans must have regarded the Mangroves as a fertile charcoal resource as well.  Shown here are only a few of some 20+ life-sized cement statues in a remote riverside park that surely few visitors aside from school children on field trips ever get to see.



This diversion was on account of our going south to join, the following day, a Trang District bicycle ride with some 300+ cyclists and the local governor who would inaugurate a IMG_1585cave as an tourist attraction and recognize a very remote school with gifts of bicycles, soccer balls and school supplies.  TigerSong took us sightseeing on our way to camp overnight at a police guesthouse aka the municipal police gymnasium.  They often arrange accommodation for us cyclists in schools, gyms and temples.District Ride
Highlight of the 200 km weekend camping trip was discovering a tiny two table village restaurant that had the best shrimp I’ve ever eaten. It was served to us as a lark, since we’d ordered chicken fried rice for the four of us, and just as we’d finished and pushed back from the table a platter of this juicy buttery small shrimp appeared.

Best Shirmp yet

Shrimp & SeaweedWe said we were full but after swallowing these shrimp whole and in most cases with the heads on we ordered a second platter and TigerSong went across the road and brought back the very best fresh raw seaweed imaginable. Our very small group included a British family mentioned in earlier posts.  Hanna the five-year-old loved the shrimp and 5 year old eats seaweedwas like a little bird swallowing the seaweed.  What a treat eating Thai foods we’d never think to order.  Shrimp platter was 80 baht, about $2.10.  Palm oil, garlic, sugar, fresh shrimp and fish sauce.  A Roi.



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.


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


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.