|One for the road|
|Alms giving, a daily morning ritual for Monks to make merit and collect food for the day|
|On the way to the bus station|
|The local bus station|
|Storage space is limited on Thai buses with LPG tanks|
|At the Paddy Fields|
|First stop. Note the holiday rental in the background|
|Poor cows were frightened of us|
|Right after the multi-storey wet market, Loei|
|Loei, bike lanes|
|Dinner with Mike and Rahda|
This morning, after another round of Khao Tum, we left the Roscoes at the local bus station. Pete could not continue any further as his health had been going down south since Day 4, catapulting into a fever at Chiang Khan. Even though Papa Mike was consulted over a video call, his medical advice failed as he could not give a “personal touch” to his patient. In this case, it was literally!!!
Leaving town, we headed for Loei on Road 201. Along the way, we rolled past the slip road to the heritage museum that Fone had planned on taking us. However, we had politely declined as all we wanted was a good fellowship with the local cycling club and not to clock the miles.
The first 20 km to Loei, we rolled mainly on flats. It was a dull journey on the main highway with no interesting sights. The team was going relatively slow on a peloton when Claudine decided to sprint ahead. Finding himself off duty as official sweeper, VT decided to race with his wife.
The first order of the ride was to stop at a petrol station 20 km down the road. VT and Claudine were counting down the milestones when they were caught by a red light in a major part of Ban That town. Stopping for the longest time, they marvelled at the size of the place, garnering a bank, Tesco Extra and 7 Eleven.
As they have 2 km more to get to the said petrol station, they started pumping the pedals when the lights turned green...
“Thump! Thump! Thump!” they spun!
Then a faraway shout. Followed by another one...
Double checking, just in case, it was none other than Chief, shouting and waving. When he got near, he launched into a tirade at them for speeding ahead without a care. The petrol station “WAS” at the junction traffic lights which they had just missed out.
Retracing their steps, the stop at the 7 Eleven saw everyone going in for their favourite snacks. Sue was again with ice pack, nursing her bad shoulder that had gone down twice on this trip!
Once on the move again, we chanced upon another petrol station 2 km down the road! It was located exactly at the 20 km mark as earlier mentioned!! Haughtily, Claudine could not help but pointed out the pumps and the adjacent standalone convenience store...
Not far from this second petrol station, we turned left into Ban That Moo 15. A local school stood to our right while the municipal office was located a little further down the road, to our left. Beyond that were village homes.
As we travelled further down the road, the tarmac soon disappeared, leaving us a gravel path. Homes were more scattered, centered around farmsteads.
Travelling along the narrow village path which clearly sees very few vehicles, the tree branches grew over the road forming an arch. When we emerged out of this tree covered canopy, endless fields of rice against a backdrop of sweeping hills greeted us!
Far to our right, a nasty factory with shiny stainless steel funnels marred the otherwise pristine landscape. Listed as an agricultural product wholesaler on Google Maps but with a signage of some marketing company, it probably produces rubber products, judging from the rubber trees all along Route 4009.
Out of the village and onto the trunk road of 4009, the rolling hills began. Stopping midway at a village mini mart and on the junction to Ban Pak Mak Moo 7, we saw a few customers coming in just to buy ice! One customer with a mosquito coil tied to his back, is probably a rubber tapper on his lunch break! The surrounding area saw scattered settlements but strangely has a simple holiday rental!
Leaving the mini mart, we found ourselves riding on our own for miles on ends. Other than the standard rubber trees, we saw no homes or roadside stalls. Soon, hunger began to set in but looking out for a place to eat in such remote places is a real challenge.
We knew Loei was near when the road conditions changed. As cyclists, we were thrilled when we saw a dedicated bike lane right before us. However, our smiles soon turned to grimace when the lane that ran parallel to the road went up a steep slope.
Up on the knoll we were rewarded with sweeping sceneries of the valley below. At the hill crest, a beautiful resort home beckons. Hungry and hoping for a dining experience, we were disappointed its restaurant was closed due to lack of visitors!
Rolling downhill towards Loei, the road was going through expansion works. A blockade caused us a short detour but we soon found out bicycles could still travel on our planned route.
Further down the road, tall buildings were spotted to our right. Anticipating the end of the journey, it was still awhile before we actually got to the town itself.
Even as we hit the T junction and turned right on Route 2138, the town was still elusive. We travelled for awhile on a road decked with old shophouse before crossing a river to the busier side of town.
Once on the other side of the river bank, we came up to a multilevel wet market. Things started to pick up beyond that.
Stopping for a meal of rice with braised pork before checking into our hotel, Sue had to settle for eggs again!!! Done with lunch, we got to our hotel in no time but not before witnessing how our LTF Chief and a police officer became exemplary citizens when they helped an old lady push her stalled car at the traffic lights!
Our plan to visit The Bicycle, a bike shop that had supplied us with the much needed bike boxes for our return trip was marred when it started to rain heavily that evening. Thankfully, it stopped by dinner time, allowing us to meet Mike and Radha at a restaurant overlooking the lake.
After dinner, our lovely new friends took us on a durian hunt around Loei. Sadly, the durians we found were not ripe. Disappointed, we had to settle for 7 Eleven fare before parting ways with a promise to keep in touch. Some others though, crossed the road to the wantan noodle shop for more, before calling it a night!
Photo Credits :
2. Ped Al
Photo Credits :
2. Ped Al