Thursday, 24 December 2015

THE VERY SOUTH THAILAND RIDE, Day 2 - A day of many stops (5 to 13 August 2015)

Our dinner stop at Thung Wa
Thung Wa

Lunch Break
Mango Sticky Rice, our 60 year old Kelantanese man and his child!
Keem's fantastic collections
10 more km to reach Thung Wa
Water pitcher


We started the day late. Everyone, except Celia met at the hotel lobby at 8.30 am. Celia had her own private pampering. Alvin had set out earlier and went back with a takeaway for her!

Some early risers had started their shopping. Raincoats for 60 baht each, were purchased from a shop a few doors away from the hotel. Uncle KC bought a poncho. Papa Mike was seen holding at least 2 raincoats in his hands. He bought a few more after breakfast. The second purchase were for his girls. Alvin bought one for Celia in case she preferred that to her windbreaker!!!

The team left for breakfast in their own colourful rain wear. Raincoats, windbreakers, poncho and Papa Mike in his full sized plastic blue wear that falls past the knee. 

Breakfast was at a stall, just 2 minutes walk away from the hotel. A petite elderly lady whips up a hearty pork porridge and decent wantan noodle. She speaks a smattering Cantonese and legible Mandarin, enough to understand our orders.... Just pork, no innards, eggs or no eggs...

A man, manning the drinks stall made Cha Ron for us. That's hot tea with milk. Then, he served us hot green tea in a pot with tiny cups.

It will soon dawn on us that it is customary in this part of Thailand to serve customers with tea or water. Whether they placed a drink order or not, is irrelevant. And there are no charges to these free drinks!!!

A second order of Cha Ron was made. The serving cups in these parts of Thailand is too small. YC tried the local coffee instead. All who sipped from his cup, agreed the burnt caramel taste was not suited to our palate.

Willing the rain to stop, it did not!

We had to go!

So, we did go!

Many were in their rain gears. If we are not mistaken, YC and Papa Mike opted without. Celia stood out with plastic bags protecting her sports shoes!!!

YC led us out through the back lanes to the town center. There was a clock tower in the middle of the street. We rode slowly through and out of town.

Within 5 minutes of pedal work, the drizzle tapered off to a drop here and there only. Within 15 minutes, it totally stopped. YC called out if anyone wanted to remove their rain gear which got a relieved "yes" from Claudine and VT. It was getting really hot! With that, everyone turned into the LPG station to regroup and dress down. 

After that, we rode out again. About 13 km later, we turned left at a major junction only to stop again. This time, it was for fried bananas, cempedak, sweet potatoes and the likes. 

A potty break at a petrol station just meters away got us separated from Papa Mike and YC. A bored George started playing with a dog while waiting. And....the wait became longer. Alvin suggested that Papa had gone back for more food!

Then, they appeared....Finally!!!!

YC had had a small cut on his hand and Papa was dressing it! That explains the delay!

This time, we rode on flat roads for some kilometers before the climbs starts. As we traipsed down a slope after tackling some hills, YC spotted a bed of Japanese roses by the roadside. This calls for a good waterstop, photo shoots and regrouping. 

Alvin was beginning to get very worried. This was not how he envisioned our rides. Short rides with long stops .... and too many at that too!!!

He ushered us forward.

7 km later, another stop!

Lunch stop at a stall in Tha Phae. There were a good many orders of egg omelette with rice. They came as plain as fried egg with white rice! Thankfully, VT did not follow suit with the order. He went for Pad Thai which came out decent. Uncle KC had a "chicken dish" which was also decent.

To use the toilet at the food stall, we had to walk through the stall, to the back. It appears the
front of the stall looks a lot better than the shabbier living conditions behind. Behind, plywood walls decked the rooms. Clean, wet laundry hung behind, near the toilet.

After a long lunch, the man, wife and his toddler bid us farewell. We waved cheerily but not before listening to Alvin's instructions...20 km nonstop before our rewarded ice kacang stop.

Did we heed his orders? NO!!!!

After lunch, we confronted extremely strong headwinds, afternoon sun and hills. 10 km later, the front runners called defeat and stopped by some houses. George spotted a motorcycle shop a few doors away. He went over and got a free greasing on his bicycle chains.

Meanwhile, this appeared to be Papa Mike's first real ride after a long absence from serious riding. He was taking forever to reach us. The waits were getting longer and longer! When he finally arrived, we gave him a short break before riding out again. Poor Papa!

At the junction to La Ngu, we made another stop at a food stall in Kamphaeng. This time, we had Cha Yen instead, which is cold iced tea with milk. Papa could not resist a small order of otak-otak which was very aromatic and good.

We had a good break here and then we geared up to ride towards the town of La Ngu. But just 50 meters down the road, we spotted a stall offering Mango Sticky Rice!

We......actually......made..... another stop!!!!

The stall owner is an older Muslim man in his 50's or 60's. He speaks good English and told us he is from Kelantan. He manned the stall while his wife is the one actually dishing out the food. They have a cute little daughter with them which makes Alvin's imagination goes wild about men and their libido!

The ride was turning out to be a ridiculously funny one. As we bid our virile Mango Sticky Rice Man goodbye, a sudden downpour made us scurry for shelter just a few kilometers away.

This time, George whipped out a small roll of glad wrap for Celia's shoes. But as soon as we were all ready in our rain gear, the rain stopped!

Now, having downed so many Cha Yens, Alvin's bladder was getting quite full. Claudine's too! They rode together ahead in search of petrol stations to relieve themselves. So yet again, another stop a few kilometers down from the rain shelter!

Getting out from the outhouse toilet at the petrol station, those few having relieved themselves looked across the road only to see the rest of the team pushing their bikes into a shop where they had stopped.

What??? Another waterstop???

While waiting for the rest, YC had turned his head and spotted a bicycle shop smacked at the spot where all had stopped to wait.

Keem's bikeshop at La Ngu town. 

Keem sells a good selection of expensive bikes and accessories....Surly Long Haul Trucker, Bianchi, Brompton, Merida....

It would appear that in this small town of La Ngu, Keem's family has a little empire of their own. Bike shop on the left, Southern Coffee cafe on the right. Down the lane, between these 2 setups, is a beautiful bungalow with a lush garden surrounding.

Nobody bought anything from Keem. We merely enjoyed the free Aircon, borrowed their bicycle pump and bid them an apologetic farewell!

With that, we rode out again. This time, our ride passes many limestone hills. There were quite a number of slopes to climb. Having clocked 60 km, we had only 20 km more to go.

We all knew we were spoilt. We all knew we needed more discipline. We rode on and tried not to stop until at least clocking 10 km. But as soon as we saw the 10 km marker by the roadside, we all stopped!

This particular drink stop was at a small convenient shop. It also sells petrol from some barrels with a pump attached. The shop has some nice flowering bush outside. At the front of the shop, concrete tables and chairs were placed on both sides. A limestone hill behind makes a good backdrop.

An exhausted Celia and Papa rested on the concrete bench across from the others after their ice cream treats. Taking pity on them, the shop owner brought out a stand fan for them. Super hospitality of Thai people!

As Papa Mike rested on his back, VT stood up all ready to ride again. He chuckled and commented there was a yellow mountain across the table. It was Papa's belly rising higher than the table!!!

With another 10 km more to go, everyone rode out in good spirits. Team Claudine and VT headed the ride. Within minutes, Lance, Celia and Alvin overtook them. Of course they were fast! Celia and Alvin had shared a power gel earlier. They also have a upper hand, being pulled by Lance, a young and strong 25 year old man!

Finally, we all reached Thung Wa as evening approaches and a light drizzle starts to fall. Alvin scouted for food and decided on a restaurant at the end of town. A tired Celia joked that he had to choose the one farthest away!

No printed menu was available. But the enterprising shopowner pulled out her hand phone with photos of the food available. She also tactically used the opportunity to slip a call card to Alvin, informing him of a hotel nearby.

Having nothing to do until food was served, Alvin, Lance and Claudine decided to set out to check the hotel out. The restaurateur saw them leaving and offered to show them the way.

Hurray! Claudine jumped behind the lady's motorcycle and off they went. A little down the road, turn left to what looked like an empty bushland, another turn and they spotted nothing but a beat up old house. Gosh! Is this the hotel she meant??

Thankfully, that was the restaurateur's abode. A little to the left was a row of rooms built detached. This will be Captain Resort.

The trio checked every room for cleanliness. Floors were squeaky clean. Unfortunately, there were big ants crawling around on Room 1.

350 baht per room per night. We accepted the offer after making sure they will remove the ants, there was free wifi, hot water and air conditioning in all rooms. With the deal sealed, Alvin started a frantic call to his "sister" in Bangkok to cancel the earlier prebooked rooms in a location 2 km away.

The trio went back to the restaurant just before it started to rain hard. It rained and blew so hard, everyone escaped into the air conditioning dining room instead. Food was palatable. Again, hot tea was served in tiny cups.

Later, we proceeded to our "love hotel". A basic room with a choice of raised bed on concrete tiled slab or mattress thrown on floor, small LCD TV on wall offering all channels in Thai, 2 horizontal poles acting as an open wardrobe, 2 chairs and a table with a condom placed on top!!!

As there were only 2 rooms with a raised bed, we quickly gave them away to Papa Mike and KC. The other room went to Celia and Alvin as nobody wanted to admit they were old and fat!

The restaurateur cum owners were extremely accommodating. They placed a table outside Claudine's room with a hot thermo pot, coffee and tea, paper cups and all so that we could have warm drinks at night.

It seems that night, only George and Wendy were feeling amorous. There was an opened condom packet in their room when they checked out the next day!

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