We slept in a bit this morning and left Ladawan Hotel in Baan Saphan at about 9am. Everyone appreciated the later start. However, it was to be an exciting morning especially for Spore as the whole country was anxious to see if its swimming star, Joseph Schooling could beat reigning champion Mark Phelps of the USA in the 100m Butterfly that morning in Rio. As we were eating our delicious Kau Tom rice porridge, news broke that Joseph did it! Spore's first Olympic Gold ever and we were elated.
With high spirits, we rode out of town more than ready to conquer the distance that laid before us. Our target was Pinery Resort in Pathiu Province, a 70+ km ride where we hoped we could get rooms. It look on pictures very nice and a quick call however dashed our hopes. It was fully booked, being Queen's birthday weekend. The lady told us they had another brand new resort 500m away and so, we were happy to consider that and made an appointment to meet her there at 3pm.
The ride out of Baan Saphan was on Highway 3374 and it involved a bit of climbs. One steeper one saw us faster than a huge road train as it struggled up the hill. I was hoping to catch a free ride up by hanging on one of those but our cycling speed was surprisingly faster than the truck. Upon reaching the top, I had time to snap a pic and Claudine as ever, was in a bouncy mood.
We seem to be somehow faster than some vehicles on this road and our next beep beep "road runner" encounter was catching up with a pick-up with loud speakers doing a sales pitch. It was fun to be able to cycle past that too and we really felt on top of the world. Here is a video of that moment...
Speedy Gonzales us could ride at a good clip because we were blessed with cool weather. The clouds were just on the verge of bursting so we had all the reason to speed up. George however spotted a very interesting dog and stopped to bring some cheer to it. He claimed that this dog is special as it warned cyclists of a nasty pot-hole. Thus, it deserved a thank you pat!
We were a little taken back at the number of climbs this section of the highway threw at us especially after experiencing an airport runway flat ride the last few days. But with climbs, there are always down hills and I enjoy that very much. What goes up, must come down ultimately.
Wendy on her Dahon Mantis seems to be the best climber here as her 16" foldy is super light and when I was following her, she was still in the usual flat road rear cog. She said her Mantis was very easy to ride uphill and numerous times, she overtook me without breaking a sweat. The Brompton on the other hand, because of it's limited gearing, was having a challenging time and Sue, with her Tom and Jerry very loaded panniers, had a tougher time than us but she did well and wasn't far behind.
The sun was playing hide and seek and at times, it was scorching hot. It was timely that we spotted a 7/11 and we made a bee line for cold drinks there. These 7/11s truly make Thailand a joy to tour and they are nearly as good as those found in Taiwan. There, we spotted an older European tourer who was just setting off in his touring road bike with full panniers and wearing lycra. Perhaps we can catch up with him later in the day?
Pressing on, we could not see the the Euro tourer and we carried on for another hour or so before we took another drink break. Lunch was the next stop and as soon as we left, the rains came a pouring. I stopped exactly 50m to take shelter as this little cafe had a wok and a boiling pot of soup. This was the shortest ride between breaks in my whole life! I asked if he did noodles and fried rice and the kind man said yes. Sue and Claudine were elated they got their wish for a noodle lunch and I was happy.
As cyclists, we somehow are always hungry so we added an order of Pad Thai to the fried rice and they disappeared as soon as they arrived.
When we were done devouring our lunch, the rains divinely stopped and we could move off though we rode carefully as the road was wet and slippery. Riding in such conditions was why I chose August but this was the first time we had rains and I was very glad. It wasn't a shower and it was just nice to make riding not too wet but very cool. As perfect as it can get!
Highway 4004 is a pretty quiet part of Thailand and it was quite sparse on cafes. The best we could do for our next break was to stop at a provision shop. There, I ordered 2 cans of syruped rambutans and emptied it in 2 bowls of ice. That was so refreshing and provided the much need refreshment.
The road leading to Pinery Resort was unpaved and we had to cycle for several kms along packed dirt roads. With the sea on our left and many shady trees, it was quite pleasant indeed and I was surprised once again at how well our 16" wheels could handle the terrain at Ao Bo Mao Beach.
It was a pity that Pinery Resort was full as it is such a beautiful place situated just at the corner of the bay. We had a walkabout of the place and it is certainly worth a visit the next time. The owner expected us and told us to follow his Mercedes to the new resort he owned nearby.
Unfortunately, the new resort was in a rather poor location. In the middle of nowhere with no view of the sea. The grounds were not even landscaped properly. Though it was just built and the villas look quite impressive, the asking price of 1500B from an initial 2500B was still poor value and we decided to move on. There I spotted in the far distance, the illusive European tourer but in a flash, he was gone.
By this time, we were so close to Chumphon Airport and the city, our final destination was just 30km or so away. A quick coffee break was taken at a lovely cafe where we had to make some important decisions. Some of us wanted to go straight into the city but I persuaded the team to explore one more beach. If we cannot find something suitable, then it's off to Chumphon even if we had to ride 100+km in the dark. That was agreed upon.
It was getting dark when we arrived at Thungwualaen Beach and a quick call earlier to the hotel that YC previously stayed brought disappointing news. All rooms were full! Other hotels I called also, full! So it was a hit and miss affair that we stumbled upon Clean Wave Resort. They had 4 villas waiting for us and at 875B, it was excellent value. I thanked the kind manager who doubled as the chef and confirmed our lovely accommodation for the night. We all sighed a great sense of relief! The total distance clocked was closed to 100km and that was not bad at all.
What impresses in our villas were newly renovated bathrooms and that really lifted the game for this locally run hotel. After a quick shower and the inevitable laundry, we enjoyed a Thai seafood dinner at the hotel's restaurant. It was about average and we sauntered to the other end of the beach for coffee and desserts to redeem the meal.
Reflecting back on today, it was amazing that Joseph Schooling scored an Olympic Gold, the first for Singapore. We didn't do too badly ourselves by scoring a "gold" at Clean Wave Resort. Being the Queen's Birthday and all the locals flocking to the beaches for the weekend, we were certainly blessed to be able to find such suitable accommodation under a very crowded and high demand weekend.
When golden co-incidences just pile up on top of one another and keep piling like on this FSTR Adventure, one can say it is Lady Luck smiling over us OR our loving Heavenly Father watching and hearing our every prayer. I choose the latter as co-incidences then become God-incidences.
And don’t worry about food—what to eat and drink; don’t worry at all that God will provide it for you. All mankind scratches for its daily bread, but your heavenly Father knows your needs. He will always give you all you need from day to day if you will make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. Luke 12:29-21