Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Day 371 - Chumphon

Judging by the map the first 60km heading south from Cha-Am looked just my sort of road, right next to the sea, bliss. Actually, no, it wasn't bliss, it was 60km of shite! A dualled road, though not a busy one, but only for about 2.5k could I see the sea, the rest was big hotels and resorts that had a monopoly on the beach. Three times I made attempts to get to the seafront, each time I could see it on the horizon, but I couldn't get to it, so I gave up and stuck to the main road in a grump. The rest of the day was boring and uneventful until I got to Prachuap Kirikhan where I checked around a few hotels just at the wrong time, the rain was lashing down and a hotel with a sea view became "What sea?". It didn't last long though and I was soon off for a wander, it was pleasant along the seafront and on the pier. I went along to Mount Thingy as the views were supposed to be good from the wat at the top. Just as I was about to go up I saw a couple of cyclists parking their bikes, they were Joelle and Clement from France and we ascended the steps together. The whole place had been taken over by monkeys and they were a little bold to say the least, keener to show their teeth rather than move from the steps, so we went up catiously. The views from the top were good, but you had to keep an eye on the monkeys the whole time as at times they bounced of our backs and one clung to my leg. I was a tad concerned it would go on the wrong side of my shorts, not something I wanted having seen it's teeth. I wasn't sorry to go down, but on reaching the bottom Joelle and Clement found that their bikes had also been a target for the monkeys, though no damage done.
So the following morning I had a lie in and then headed of south with cycling companions for the first time in over 6 months. It turned out that from Vientiane in Loas to here Clement and I have been on exactly the same route other than around Bangkok, but I have always been a day or more behind. We tried to avoid the highway and very early on had to go through a checkpoint where we had to write our names and sign a form for some reason. Shortly afterwards we crossed a very wide road with no traffic on, thankfully, as I soon realised we were crossing the airport runway. After about 20k we stopped at the house of Theiry, a Frenchman now living here with his Thai wife who J & C had met the previous day and would give up some information on the roads ahead. Having departed we once again tried to get off the highway but it resulted in a deadend road at a lovely beach, then another track that ended in a footpath that dropped into a river, we were having as much success as I had yesterday. Back to the highway we went and tried again later, only to end at a pier (photo). More highway, then as it was getting late we turned down to the coast again. J & C went for a dip in th sea (I really should learn to swim) whilst I went in search of somewhere to stay. We were lucky and found a guesthouse nearby at a reasonable rate. It was by now completely dark.
We had an earlier start the following day, most of which was off the main highway, but not always with the sea in view, though when there was one it was usually really nice (photo). We decided on a short day and aimed for the next village by the sea, but there was nothing there, nowhere to stay and nowhere to eat, so as it was still early we carried on having been told there was another beach 6km further on. Sure enough after 8km we reached a beach and J & C went for another swim whilst I forced down ice cold drinks. We were told of a guest house 6km further on and a map was drawn in the sand. After 6km we arrived at a village to be told the nearest was still another 8km further on, it was going to be one of those days. Two guys on a moped showed us the way but once on the coast again we told them we would be ok. I enquired at some bungalows whilst J & C checked some others, though I was told they were closed as it is the low season, but when J & C arrived she obviously decided it was worth her while to let us stay. We ate dinner at a shorefront restaurant whilst providing a dinner for the mosquitos.
Today was a nice relaxed day, meandering down the coast to Chumphon. We found a lovely long sandy beach with nobody on it and stopped for a few hours, bliss, I even got my feet wet. Chumphon is a little away from the coast and a lively town. I suspect that tomorrow we will split up again as J & C want to take it leisurely down the east coast then take a bus to Phuket, whereas I think I will head to the west coast from here and arrive at Phuket in 4 days time. When I get to Phuket I am sure I shall wonder what the hell I am doing there, a fish out of water, but I want to see the 'other side' of Thai coastal life.
It's been good to have compant for a while, but once again I am put to sham with my inability to speak a foreign language. J & C have also picked up a few words of Thai which has proved useful. The only two word I know are Nok and Noi which means little bird and has proved to be about as useful as I expected.
Thanks again for all of your comment and emails. Dan, I am not sure if I know you or not, but if you drop me an email, my contact email is on the right hand side at the bottom, I will give you any information you would like. Jackie, thanks for another comment and for reading this waffle. I have been meaning to mail you but just haven't got around to it yet, but now I regret that as we were both in Bangkok at the same time and it would have been fun to have met up. From reading your blog I assumed you would be well away by now, but I guess you have flown from Bangkok. Those who have sent emails, I have read them, but not being the fastest typist, these things take time, but I will reply to you, thanks.


David & Lindsey said...

John, you do realise that when you finally arrive back home you will be in great demand from WI's all over Oxfordshire to give a detailed talk and slide show on your epic journey! David.

Basher Barlow said...

Beastie - Well sorry for lack of posts but has been hell at work and reading your blogs and mails from another few friends living the same life as you only makes it tougher for me. First off belated happy 1st year of travelling (best year of your life) and still don't believe your Day 367 - Cha-Am posting that you get up early each day.. The whole family passes on their wishes and Jessie still thinks your mad whilst me and Lesley are green with envy.