Day 5 – Ban Krut to Chumphon

6th December 2012:

Today (day four was a rest day at Ban Krut) was marked by many quite memorable things. The most prominent of which I think was the most amazing sunrise I think I have ever seen. I was awake at about 5.30am, and thought I should take a walk down to the beach (which was all of about 75 yards away) to see what the day might bring. After all, it is not too often in your life that you get to wake up with an uninterrupted view of the Gulf of Thailand is it?

The sun pushed its way through a few wispy clouds sat on the horizon at about 6.20. Sat as I was the only person for miles around I had this beautiful thing all to myself.

The sun begins to light up the eastern sky over the Gulf....

The sun begins to light up the eastern sky over the Gulf….

....and then the whole sky is awash with colour as the sun itself peers over the horizon.

….and then the whole sky is awash with colour as the sun itself peers over the horizon.

Following breakfast shortly thereafter we met up again with Esso and Suwat, and were ready just before 8 to hit the road for our toughest day so far. The ride took us on an incredible journey, through many fishing villages (including a memorable trip to the end of a pier where a multitude of Burmese workers were unloading the day’s catch and mending nets). We again followed the Gulf of Thailand for most of the way, which will be the last time we see it. It really is such a stunning and unspoilt piece of nature.

The fishermen unload their catch......

The fishermen unload their catch……

....whilst others try their luck from the jetty.

….whilst others try their luck from the jetty.

I was happy that Esso decided to push the pace a bit more today. Whether for my benefit or his I don’t know, but it gave me the chance to finally stretch my legs a bit. Dirk was unfortunately struggling with the after effects of a bad bout of food poisoning the day before, and so opted to take the back for most of the day. I felt for him, as cycling when you feel so bad, and in that heat, must have been really tough. I was happy though that I also got the chance to get a bit of a spurt on, as it gave my legs the chance to get pushed as hard as almost I could in places.

Following Esso down another really busy Thai road :)

Following Esso down another really busy Thai road 🙂

Following a break for lunch in another great ‘restaurant’ which just appeared from nowhere, we headed back down to the coast towards our last stop on the gulf, Chumphon.

Another day, another great lunch stop.

Another day, another great lunch stop.

Altogether today we covered about 72 miles, our longest so far, and got in about 500m of ascent altogether, so the roads were becoming more varied and undulating finally after being pretty much pancake flat so far.

Arriving at Chumphon Cabana, which was again right on a deserted beach, it again took about 5 minutes from arriving to get into the sea, which was again really warm, when I wanted it to be cool!!

The beautiful unspoilt beach  at Chumphon.....

The beautiful unspoilt beach at Chumphon…..

.....but the pool was much cooler thankfully!

…..but the pool was much cooler thankfully!

This was the hotel taken from the beach - Spiceroads had done us proud again.

This was the hotel taken from the beach – Spiceroads had done us proud again.

So after a very invigorating Thai massage close to the beach and then dinner, everyone was pretty much finished for the day. The stats follow below:

http://app.strava.com/activities/31157611

Tomorrow we would cross Thailand altogether, and get to within apparently 20m of the Burmese (or Myanmar as it is called these days) border. It would be 80 miles plus, and quite hilly apparently. Couldn’t wait!

Day 3 – Prachuap Khiri Khan to Ban Krut

4th December 2012:

It was almost a shame to leave the beautiful view and sunrise of Prachuap Khiri Khan behind, although it should be said that none of us would really miss the hotel. The Hadthong, it has to be said, has ‘had’ it’s day, and it was a long time ago. But what a beautiful sunrise to wake up to, so how can I possibly moan!

Another beautiful sunrise over the Gulf of Thailand - wish I could wake up to this every day.

Another beautiful sunrise over the Gulf of Thailand – wish I could wake up to this every day.

Today’s ride was a fairly short one, of around 46 miles, but was the most interesting so far. We started with a stunning ride around the most beautiful headland, and along a deserted and stunning beach. It made you want to just stop there for the day, and lie on the beach doing nothing whatsoever. Maybe that will be for another time!

Shortly after the headland we crossed through an Air Force base, and literally rode across the runway before coming to a rocky outcrop which contained a large number of dusky langur monkeys. I’d never heard of these things before, but Suwat obviously had, and he stopped the van and produced a large bag of monkey nuts. This had the desired effect of bringing about 50 of them out of the trees (they’ve obviously done this thing before, they weren’t shy), and literally fed out of our hands.

Here are some piccies of them:

The langurs (also called leaf monkeys) appear from the trees, a little nonchalant at first....

The langurs (also called leaf monkeys) appear from the trees, a little nonchalant at first….

.....but soon were literally eating out of the palms of our hands.

…..but soon were literally eating out of the palms of our hands.

Cute little things, aren't they?

Cute little things, aren’t they?

The babies are a quite amazing orange colour.

The babies are a quite amazing orange colour.

Following on from this nice distraction, we headed down the edge of a busy main road (the only real one we have come across so far) for a not very interesting 25km or so before finally heading off the highway towards our rest stop for the rest of the day and the evening, Ban Krut. Ban Krut sits amidst a 12km bay and is in the most idyllic location. Getting some speed up finally on our way down towards the coast was great, as the pace has been pretty pedestrian so far, averaging a moving pace of around 15mph.

Cycling through a fairly typical Thai town...

Cycling through a fairly typical Thai town…

.....and onto a more typical quiet road heading now back down towards the coast. The roads were almost always as smooth as this one is.

…..and onto a more typical quiet road heading now back down towards the coast. The roads were almost always as smooth as this one is.

At the coast itself we stopped at a temple, which was located up a short but steep hill on an outcrop of rock by the beach. The hill was only 150m long or so, but the gradient touched 16% (averaging 8%), which in this heat is a tough ask for certain. The temple is amazing, and sits above a large golden Buddha.

The huge Buddha sat below the Wat Tang Sai Temple

The huge Buddha sat below the Wat Tang Sai Temple

Just walking up these steps was a tough ask in this heat - what the heck were we doing cycling!

Just walking up these steps was a tough ask in this heat – what the heck were we doing cycling!

And at the front of the temple itself.

And at the front of the temple itself.

Wat Tang Sai temple was built only around 10 years ago to commemorate the King’s 50th year on the throne. Both on the inside and out the decorations are beautiful, and the stunning views up and down the coast which greet you once you have walked up another hill and then a lot of steps are absolutely stunning:

The view north from the temple......

The view north from the temple……

....and the southbound view. Our resort was slap bang in the middle of this long bay :)

….and the southbound view. Our resort was slap bang in the middle of this long bay 🙂

As we gazed at the beautiful view of these beaches below us, Esso told us that this is where we would be spending the next day and a half. “How awful!” I exclaimed to him, and I am not totally sure as yet that he actually got the irony in my voice.

If you look at www.kawapanga.com/wat-tang-Sai/ you can find out much more about the palace…..

Leaving the temple and back on the bikes it was a short hop to a tiny rural shack for lunch of Pad Thai. I realised then that the ‘Thai’ food in England doesn’t bear much similarity at all to the real Thai food. It is just amazing.

Our resort, the Keeree Warree Resort and Spa, was only a further 2km. Set by the beach, and with individual beach villas for rooms, the place is in an incredible spot, and just what the doctor ordered after three days in the saddle. I was in the sea within about 15 minutes of arriving. It seems somewhat churlish to say that the sea was not refreshing at all, but it wasn’t as it was just too warm!! The ‘problem’ was soon solved by walking around 15 metres back to the hotel’s salt water swimming pool, which was much cooler. Perfect!

The Keeree Waree Resort and Spa, Ban Krut, from the beach....

The Keeree Waree Resort and Spa, Ban Krut, from the beach….

.....and looking up the coast from the same spot - the temple we just came from is in the distance on the hill.

…..and looking up the coast from the same spot – the temple we just came from is in the distance on the hill.

My bedroom for the next day and half was an individual bungalow - bliss :)

My bedroom for the next day and half was an individual bungalow – bliss 🙂

And so that was that – we were here for a day and a half as the next day was a rest day. Spiceroads were spoiling us! The rest day was strategically planned however, as for the three following days we’d be doing 130km or more each day, with hills to boot. I reasoned that there couldn’t be much of a better place anywhere to just chill out, and so that is precisely what I resolved to do. I love Thailand!

The days stats were as follows:

http://app.strava.com/activities/30868649