Thursday, October 9, 2014

STR Adventure Day 5 - Ranong at last! Easy 55km.

Pic KC

Pic from Le Ranong website

Its nice to wake up to deep blue skies and bright sunshine. We were not in a hurry to leave as today's distance was an easy 55km or so. Loading up our bikes, we made our way to the town market for a spot of breakfast. It was great to see smoke, which meant BBQ chicken satays and we had that with sticky rice. Though this was the cheapest and simplest meal we have had so far, Pete reckoned this was the best breakkie of the entire trip so far, and he was not wrong. As we chomp on our food, we had good conversations with the locals including a policeman who was having coffee too.

Pulling out of Kapoe, there was a song in my heart at being able to cycle on this brand new day. We must not take our health for granted. One downside of a non rainy day in the tropics was the humidity, o yes and the heat. This was fine until it got nearer to noon where temperatures hit 33c. Fortunately, the roads we took were largely shaded and this made it so much more pleasant.

We rode together often side by side just enjoying the scenery whiz pass before us, with not a care in the world. Knowing that we would be in Ranong by lunch time was a comforting thought and sometimes, it is just nice to ride short distances for the day.

Ranong is located near the mountain range and it is good that the road skirts around these otherwise, it will be a hard slog climbing. We passed by a lovely lakeside area (which I regretted not stopping) and some waterfalls. There was also this interesting area called Bald Mountain.

Upon arriving in Ranong, Ying Chang with his trusty Garmin took over the lead. It was strange to be riding through busy streets after being in the quiet country for so many days but civilisation = good food. 

Pic KC

Our destination was Le Ranong - a charming boutique hotel that our friend Chris Wee highly recommended not just for its good value, nice amenities and friendly owner, but for Butter, the pet dog. Here he is as a puppy when Chris was there 2 years ago.

Pic CW

Butter as a young adult. Still playful!

The charming lady owner of Le Ranong, Khun Nok, welcomed us with a warm and open heart, and many opened mangosteens, all carefully cut and served with a plate and fork.  Giveaway sign of an uppity upbringing which we appreciated very much. 

There were also welcome drinks all round and for US$32 per night with 2 breakfasts, we were all absolutely in love with Le Ranong. Le Ranong also boasts of a beautiful bakery on site and looking at all the amazing pastries and Danishes, we were bowled over. The expression on these faces say it all when we checked into our rooms!

There are heaps of eateries in Ranong and just around the corner of our hotel. We chose a bright and cheery Thai eatery that had a Som Tam (papaya salad) kitchen just outside its shop. The friendly owner really knew how to make a great Som Tam and we enjoyed every piece of it!

Ranong is also famous for hot springs and we cycled there after a short afternoon siesta. As we were cycling there, we saw a little Nissan Micra honking at us. Turned out to be Khun Nok who wanted to make sure we got there safely. If there ever is an award for Hospitality of the Year, Le Ranong will certainly win hands down. 

We were amazed that the beautiful Raksawarin Hot Springs was free! No charge, opened to everyone to enjoy. A rarity indeed and it was obviously very well maintained. Kudos to the Thai local government. It was so good to soak our aching legs in hot 40c water in the cool evening of the day. We all voted that Ranong is certainly worth another visit and some of us even wanted to retire here!

Khun Nok recommended us to have dinner at a hole in the wall eatery, run by a Thai Chinese family. It was just 1km away from the hot springs area and easy to find. Just look out for the flaming wok! As it turned out, this was by far, the best meal we ever had. All the dishes we ordered were amazing in taste and quality and I discovered my fav dish of all, fried cat fish in spicy sauce called Pla Too K. 

The service was also first class, very attentive without being intrusive and kudos to the Burmese waitresses. What was even more astounding was the price - 750B or US$25 for 7 of us for 7 dishes with beer. We nearly fell off our chair and reported excitedly to Khun Nok when we returned to the hotel, who was pleased as punch to hear that. More eating followed when we discovered some dessert stores just before reaching our hotel, and this was truly food paradise!

All in, it took us a day longer to reach Ranong and in some sense, I wish we had come here earlier. But we still had another day in Ranong to enjoy and tomorrow, we shall be going for a spot of boating across to Burma. Ranong rocks!

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