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Upcountry day trip

Bangkok can be pretty stinky at the best of times, and Bob was riding around north of here, so I decided to meet him for a day of riding from Phitsanulok to Phichit. These two towns aren’t remarkable for much other than being on the train line which makes for easy access from Bangkok.

I sent my Grand Bois on ahead from Hua Lamphong station in Bangkok, praying it wouldn’t get damaged in the process. Then caught the train on Saturday morning to Phitsanulok. The rapid express had air conditioning and “only” took five hours.

After finding Bob and checking in at the glamorous Amarin Nakhorn hotel (350 baht), we had some dinner at the local Mediterranean fusion restaurant where I ordered a Greek salad. Expecting it to be awful, I was pleasantly surprised that it actually tasted great, had nice olives and feta and was considerably better than some that I’ve had in Sydney.

Being Phitsanulok, there is absolutely nothing to do once you’ve eaten dinner so we just wandered around town, visited the 711 and went to bed.

The route the next day was largely on quite roads, not too hot and at about 60km, exactly enough cycling. My original plan was to catch a train on Sunday night back to Bangkok, but the timing of the sleeper trains would have had me arriving back at Hua Lamphong at 4am which isn’t much of a sleep. So we found a new hotel in Phichit, ate dinner at the MK and once again went to bed early.

Monday morning I tried to get an “express” train to Bangkok and send my bike on a slow train later in the day, but the guy in the station either didn’t understand what I was trying to ask in my primitive Thai, or they simply didn’t send cargo from there, so I had to wait for a later, slower train. An exercise in patience, this train left Phichit at 10.30am and arrived in Bangkok at 6pm.  A mere 7.5 hours to travel 300km. The train actually moved at a decent pace, I clocked it doing over 90kmh most of the time, but it would stop at stations for an eternity and go slow in the middle of nowhere, and stop for who knows what all the time. I suspect the driver is told to stretch the trip out to the required length so that someone at the Thailand Authority of Trains doesn’t have to recalculate the timetable that was developed back in 1987.

 

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Phattalung to Hat Yai

strava stuff here

So this morning I woke up feeling rather bleagh. Yesterday’s ride was probably a little too much too soon in too much heat and I got too tired so I wasn’t feeling too well today.

I hung with the other guys for 30km at which point I decided a train ride would be the sensible course of action. No point getting sick again. And staying with the others would have been over 100km so no way Jose. The train was nice. Hat Yai is pretty civilised considering that it’s almost a border town.

Food consumption today consisted of pork on rice followed by chicken on rice and a few eggs for breakfast followed by a can of premixed milo followed by kana moo grob (fried pork belly with kale) and a whole pineapple for lunch, a whole packet of spicy salty sweet tamarinds, potato chips, milk, green chicken curry for dinner and some papaya. I’m getting fat.

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Trang to Phattalung

https://www.strava.com/activities/1521887549/

Somehow it took us all day to ride the 66km from Trang to Phattalung today. It may have something to do with the two hour lunch stop, a handful of leisurely drink stops and a failed attempt to ride on a bike track that lasted 200m. Frank was right.

Considering I’ve been poorly I felt pretty good for the first 45km. At lunch I would even say that I felt excellent. But the last 20km into town completely finished me off. I’d eaten plenty of food but started to bonk regardless. No doubt my metabolic machinery isn’t quite back in order after being sick.

Fun riding with a bunch of friends though. It makes the riding more of a social event than an athletic one and that’s not to be sneezed at.

Fortunately for Frank there were no Thai men admiring his legs and handing him their addresses written on scraps of paper, unlike last night at Swensens in Trang.

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Fear and Loathing in Trang

So you’ve three days to kill in Trang. There’s almost nothing to do here other than drink coffee at the Amazon coffee shop and take photos of weird tuk tuks. You have no energy for riding as you’ve just gotten over a nasty infection and still feeling the effects of two courses of penicillin.

So you put the time to good use and write some music on your OP-1.

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China here we come

I’m finishing off my last day here at work before leaving for China, setting the Outlook out of office reply so that others get annoyed while I’m having fun.

It was a close run thing, with Bob being American he almost didn’t get a visa. Obviously digging up everything that we’ve got and selling it to the Chinese has placed Australians in an advantaged position when it comes to tourist visas. I was easily able to get a single entry 60 day visa, but Bob was informed by the visa agency in Hong Kong that due to his unfortunate status as an American citizen the longest he would get is 30 days. And he may not even get that. A week or two may be all they allow him.

At this point I started considering all the other options. Which are, basically anywhere on the planet. George will be arriving in France soon to start his dual pilgrimages to Cannes and the Tour de France, so I could hop over there and ride with him. Or maybe South America. Or Japan. Or Korea. Well, not Korea. I can’t eat kimchi every day.

As it turns out, he managed to get two 30 day entries. Still a pain as he’ll have to exit and return in order to complete the trip, assuming that we don’t catch bird flu and end up in a rural hospital asking for a Tamiflu drip.

The bike is all spruced up and ready to go. I just need to pull out the front fork and box it up. A pile of stuff sits on the lounge room floor ready to stuff into my saddlebag and handlebar bag. It’s all a bit anticlimactic in some ways when you’ve toured so many times. There’s nothing to fret over.

Next stop Hong Kong.

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