Thailand Vietnam October 2009

What a big 2 weeks!

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About 2 months ago Alex proposed a great idea. A trip to Thailand. Then Hugh suggested we go to Vietnam. Using all our genius we were able to work out a way to spend a week in Krabi province in Thailand, and then a week getting as much out of Vietnam as possible.

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So 2 weeks ago here the five of us were all sitting in a cafe in Phra Atit (near Khaosan Road) in Bangkok, feeling pretty pumped for a grand old time. Awesome when things work out!

Railay & Koh Phi Phi were the places we spent out time in Krabi. In Vietnam we visited Hanoi, Halong Bay, Sapa, Hua An and Ho Chi Minh city.

Vietnam is a great place. Most of the folks we met were kind and seemed slightly interested in talking to some foreigners. Also Vietnam is fantastically affordable. A beer could cost as little as 2000 dong! ($0.10 – $0.15 USD). You can get into a nice hotel for about $5USD. No need to slum it in Vietnam!

I liked Hanoi. Thousands of scooters zipping by down some little streets, heavy chinese influence, tasty food, an old prison with lots of history, a lake with a Turtle god in it. What else could you want?

I’d definitely recommend a trip up to Sapa and spend a few nights there. We could only fit in one night but it made for 2 days walking around the hills and being shuffled through the Mhong villages in the area.

Hua An is UNESCO heritage listed, and in my experience that means it is definitely worth a visit. Vintage town on a river – that flooded in the last few days we were there. Hua An also has a big name for the amount of tailors there. Need a suit? Need a coat? Need some shoes?

Liam and I ended up being the last of us in Vietnam. We spent a night in Ho Chi Minh city – also a great city with that same vibe as Hanoi but a lot bigger and … developed? We were both pretty knackered after the big 2 weeks so didn’t make much of an effort to explore. Next time for sure.

Now it’s time to get back to that thing some people call “reality” and look for a job. Blerg.

I have a ton of pictures, heaps in 1:1 aspect, so flickr is going to cop it today. 🙂

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Day 10: Singhanakon to Hat Yai

Short ride today from Singhanakon to Hat Yai. We passed over the Tinsulanonda bridge which crosses the massive Songkla lake – the massive lake that stretches at least 100km up the east coast of Thailand.

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The bridge stops halfway on an island called Ko Yo – not much here i think except for a giant reclining Buddha.

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An hour or so later we were in Hat Yai!

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This is quite a milestone for us. It means we have made it over 1000km and are very close to Malaysia.

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We got our bikes serviced a little – my gears were all out of wack. The folks at Hay Yai mountain bike were superb.

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The rest of the day we pretty much tried to chill out in the heat – some beers and lots of food again.

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Tomorrow – Malaysia!

Total km: 35km

Day 07: Than Phannara to Nakhon Sri Thammarat

Left the ‘love shack’ at Than Phannara around 7am an headed down highway 41, but then took a left down highway 4195 towards the mountains and then onto highway 4015 – towards Nakhon Sri Thammarat!

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Was a great morning through this area, great jungle/forest around, lots of little villages to pass through, some big mountains with clouds floating past, very green.

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We crossed through the Nakhon Sri Thammarat mountains after a fairly decent accent – Nicholas managed to beat it, my lack of gears got the better of me and had to walk it. Errrrr.

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But the ride down the hill was cool – pretty steep and no traffic. My iPhone says i got my bike up to 92.1 km/h!

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The rest of the ride into Nakhon Sri Thammarat was nice and flat, but HOT.

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Total km: 78 km
Max Speed: 92.1 km/h

Day 06: Phunphin to Than Phannara

Phunpin is a great . Little town in Surathani province. The train station where most tourists come to to make their way to get the bust to the ferries to Koh Samui.
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Kind of a nothing day, highway riding and very hot. After yesterday’s ride I am feeling pretty stuffed!

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Stopped at a roadside hotel, a.k.a a “mahn rooht” hotel (sliding curtain), the kind where folks go to shag their neighbours/others.

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very sore hands!
very sore hands!

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Total km: 62 km

Max Speed: 41.3 km/h

Day 05: Chumpon to Phunphin

What a day!

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We left Chumpon about 6.30am and got back onto the highway and spent the rest of the day riding – for 186km!
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MotionX GPS app on my iPhone says e were riding for over 9 hours straight, averaging 21 km/h.
Highways are definitely easier riding than the ‘shortcuts’.
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I am very surprised. I guess the 300baht massage yesterday and a reasonably long sleep really paid off!
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Not much to really say about yesterday except that we aimed to get to a town called Chaya and spend the night there, but we just kept of riding.

We figured we’d find a place to crash for the night in a town called Ta Chang, unfortunately there was no where to stay when we got there!

So 25km or so into the night we made it to Phun Pin – a town close to Surathani town.
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Nicholas just reminded me to put down that we saw a lot of dead dogs and snakes along the side of the road.

Staying at the only hotel in town: Queen Hotel just near the train station – not bad, room with 2 large single beds and a fan/shower/toilet – 260baht

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Total km: 186km

Day 04: Ban Boet to Chumpon

6.30am left Ban Boet. Road solidly for an hour along the coastline and then went inland, picked up some sticky rice and carved our way through the jungle to Don Yang.
Riding along the coast before sunrise is a great way to start the day.

It’s really is beautiful out here, people doing their thing on their farms or stores, everyone seems pretty happy.

Everyone since Bangkok has assumed Nicholas to be a farang (foreigner). I think it’s driving him a little crazy and giving him a identity disorder. I was riding next to him today and he was talking in some weird germanic language. Yeah, he’s losing it.

It’s a lot more hilly down here, more pain.

Nicholas nearly got bitten by a snake, but i think he really just ran over a stick. But he is sure is was a snake. He says it was a little horrifying.

Had a great lunch up in the hills in between Pathiu and Chumpon – “Laht Nah” – something along the lines of noodles in sticky sauce. Passed out for half an hour and then hit the road again.
Strange though, within 30 minutes I was starving again and got that wobbly no energy feeling. Had to get a quick cola/sugar/biscuit fix then slowly came back to life.

15km or so we made it into Chumpon.

My legs are lead

We’ve been getting a bunch more video so hopefully we’ll be able to cut something together at the end of the trip. Perhaps what we lack in charisma we’ll have made up in kilometres.

total km today: 86km

Day 03: Prachuab Khiri Khun to Ban Boet

Left Prachuab Khiri Khun around 5.30am and managed to get on to the highway as the sun really got up.
Nicholas picked up some ‘meat on a stick’ and sticky rice to munch on later.
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Riding in the rain – as good fun as yesterday.
Many little hills, not too bad. Possibly have more strength/stamina than yesterday.

Around lunchtime we stopped to fix Nicholas’ seat (would be a regular a event for today) and met an old bloke who recommended a short cut to Bang Saphan Noi. Cheers Uncle!
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Very cool to ride past the farms that are so close to the sea. Not sure what the are growing there but looked like it was working.
We rode through a bunch of villages and the people are so friendly!
If you’re ever down this part of Thailand make sure you get off the highway and spend some time driving around.
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Lunch – amazing fried chicken “guy tot” with sticky rice and some tasty soup. The ladies working here were really funny. Apparently one of them wanted to join us (more interested in Nicholas than myself I was told later) to Bang Saphan Noi for some lovin’ later that night! Horny old lady.
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At a point it seemed that Uncle’s shortcut was not really that short but before we knew it we found out we were pretty close to Bang Saphan Noi.
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I think around 2pm we passed Bang Saphan Yai and I started to flake out as I seem to do in the heat. Eventually we passed through Bang Saphan Lek and decided to ride on to Ban Boet.
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As I was flaking out we luckily passed by a turn off to a waterfall and went for a swim. Hell yeah! That recharges the batteries – followed by a packet of chips, a fanta and a bottle of water.
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Forgot to mention, drinking lots of water, maybe 3 litres a day – i think it is turning straight to steam!

The last hour or so we fought the good fight against some significantly steeper/longer hills than yesterday, which were made more difficult by the fact we had spent most of the day covering over 100km in the heat.

Getting into Ban Boet was a perfect ending to the day’s ride – all down hill and in the afternoon shade.
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Ban Boet – next to the beach, dogs getting it on on the street, small town, big cliffs out to sea, nice food
Staying at the “Khun Thong” hotel – 300baht/night. Clean, friendly, fan rooms
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Right now drinking a beer and sitting by the sea.
Perfecto!
Tomorrow… Chumpon?
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