Wednesday, November 4, 2015

VSTR Day 3 – Thung Wa to Trang (80 km)

We woke up to a very wet morning, typical for August weather. Not wanting to start off in the wet, we mucked around at the table overlooking the man-made lake that served as a fish farm. The kind owner had very considerately bought some yu tiows and local cakes for us with an electric kettle to make coffee, and that was truly appreciated. When we consider that each room costs only $13 per night, it made his kindness and hospitality really special. Captain's Resort, though a "love hotel", is impressive in my books. Seeing that it was one of those rains that just would not stop, we don our gear and cycled 1km to the town centre for some real breakfast.

At the market, we found some Muslim stalls and had roti with condensed milk and chicken rice. Though the food was decent and the kind man took pains to make seating arrangements for us, it was a challenge to enjoy our meal with the rains and the wind intruding too often. The area where our bikes were parked started to flood as well and it was a good time to vamoose.

When your aspiration is to be Little Penang, it says a lot about how small town Thung Wa is!

Once on the road, the rains actually made it nice and cool for us to ride and I enjoyed the wet start surprisingly. 10 mins into the ride, one of our team had a disagreement with her breakfast and we took shelter in a coffeeshop. Once again, we were received with warmth and hospitality and truly, this is what makes touring Thailand such a joy. Perhaps it was also our very pitiful state of being all drenched, cold and soggy. The locals must look upon us with a mix of wonder and amazement as to why these strange cyclists would want to cycle during the monsoons.

It was great to cycle as a team with our small wheels spinning and gurgling as it sliced through the wet roads. Traffic was light as we saundered through the Thai countryside passing through small villages and plenty of lush greenery on both sides of Highway 416, wondering if the rains would be merciful. Thankfully, a Cha Ron (hot sweet tea) stop revived us and we continued on until we hit the right turn off to Trang via Highway 404.

By this time, it was nearly noon and my stomach was rumbling. However, there was no suitable eateries and that got us worried. Out came all the emergency food to keep us going. It's funny how an empty stomach lowers the morale but we had to soldier on and this road is just canopied with green trees. Absolutely beautiful but my task was to find food! VT who was in front spotted a colourful cafe and we all trooped in gleefully as there were coffee signs as well as Thai food! But more importantly, there was free wifi!!!

The rain then turned into a storm and we were glad we were inside tucking into freshly wok cooked fried rice and noodles, all warm and snugged. We were soon joined by a young French couple in T-shirts and shorts on local commuter bicycles, one with a front basket! They too took shelter with us and it was nice to meet fellow cyclists. Though they are obviously new to this game, it didn't deter them. Their bags were all soaked wet and there is a compelling reason why most bicycle tourers use Ortliebs. We must have stayed there for at least 2 hours and I had to crack the whip to get everyone out of there as we were not too far from Trang.

As if the rains were saving the best for last, we were riding through the heaviest downpours. One part of the road was really flooded and we had to skirt around it to avoid water entering our BB. George however was riding a Dahon Submarine and enjoyed wading through it like a school boy! His big grin permanently plastered on his face said plenty of that cheeky decision.

Just at the outskirt of Trang, we stopped at a noodle shop just to regroup and to refuel. One can never eat too much on a cycling trip as the food somehow seem to just disappear. This particular shop offered noodles with black soup. I later found out that it was more like blood soup and that got me feeling a bit queasy. Fortunately, they had lovely more normal fish crackers which I munched away happily, downing it with my umpteen glass of Cha Ron.

It was easy to tell we were near Trang by the traffic built up. We rode together to make sure no one got left behind. Getting lost in a city with such a long train of bicycles is something I wanted to avoid at all cost. Some of us got stucked behind traffic lights and cars but we patiently made our way into the city of Trang and arrived finally at Yamawa Guesthouse. Jo, the owner was so happy to see us and welcomed us ever so warmly like the loving father in the parable of the Lost Son.

Yamawa is a simple guesthouse but earned raved reviews not so much for its facilities, as really, it is quite ordinary. However what gives it gold status is the amazing friendly service offered by the owner and his wife, plus the whole place is spotlessly clean. They are also so bike friendly and invited us to park inside their reception area despite our bicycles dripping with grime and mud. It was so nice to have a warm shower and get out of wet clothes. With a bit of a rest, we were all ready for dinner and Jo not only recommended to his favourite eatery, but walked us there!

Papa Mike was in his element as he accompanied me into the kitchen to place our orders. The food didn't disappoint but the portions were rather small. We weren't complaining because as far as we were concern, this was only Dinner Part 1. For Part 2, we walked to the Night Market near the Train Station and hammered on the street food offerings.

All the riding in the rain unfortunately took its toll on poor KC. For some reason, he was feeling unwell and he made a rather substantive oral deposit on the street. That really made him feel better and we were glad.

Some of us continued to dinner part 3 at a late night noodle shop near Yamawa while for others, being horizontal in airconditioned comfort took precedence. It has been a long and wet day and we were so glad for tomorrow, we stay put in Trang.

Pics fm KC

1 comment:

Jeffrey Palmer said...

Trip looks epic! I love my Brompton, never thought about going long distance on it, is it comfortable? I got my bike from pretty good if you are looking for a quality folding bike.