Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 24 Wed 21/07 - Samut Songkhram to Bangkok

Today Distance: 78.9 km              Total: 1731.7 km

Today Temp : 26 - 38c
Time on Bike : 4hr 02 min
Ave Speed : 19.5 kmh                  Max: 45.0 kmh
Ave Climb : 1%                            Max: 4%
Altitude: 102m                              Max: 80m
Today spending : 540baht             Total: 8803baht

We are only 68km to Bangkok that's according to the sign board.Brent has done much research on cycling into a big city like Bangkok.Most are strongly against,you must be crazy or mad to cycle into the city!! But Brent and I are of the same opinion that we should take on the challenge.So we carefully studied our map and with brent;s IPhone Gps,we are dead confident of doing it! We followed the highway 35,all the way to the outskirt of Bangkok ,there is a side road parallel to the main road for the slower vehicles where shops and eating stalls located. The traffic was really in his peak at lunch hour.You have to be really good in every aspect of  handling ,controlling,balancing and squeezing pass narrow gap in between vehicles. Amazingly,we saw some beautiful bike lanes with "bicycle "drawing on it , but hardly we saw any cyclists riding on it except us.many cars and motorbikes have invaded the lanes ,So " What's the point?" After all the hassles, we still managed to ride into our destination in Bangkok old town of Banglamphu, where most backpackers hang around in Khao San street . Brent saw a special guesthouse similar to his girlfriend name- Bella-Bella,surprisingly cheap at 300 baht,if not Brent has to pay the extras,just joking,Brent! At night we went for a walk  in Khao San street.It was really an eye-opener,you wouldn't believe it, It's 10x more popular than our Bukit Bintang and chinatown back home in KL.
                                      Leaving the hotel in Samut Songkhram
                                Brent with his face mask on ,Ready to do battle!!!
                                     On the bike lane but often bullied by other vehicles
                                               Crossing the Chao Phraya River
                                       What they did not mention is " Any refund ???
                                                      Hair making any which way you like
                                                     Currency exchange on the move
                                Our beds in Bella-Bella guesthouse for 300 baht

Day 23 Tue 20/07 - Cha'Am to Samut Songkhram

Today Distance: 107.0 km             Total: 1652.8km
Today Temp : 26 - 38c
Time on Bike : 5hr 14 min
Ave Speed : 20.4 kmh                   Max: 36.5 kmh
Ave Climb : 1%                             Max: 74%
Altitude: 97m                                 Max: 78m
Today spending : 520 baht             Total: 8263baht

From Cha'am,a coastal town,we started going inland to join the main Highway 4.Like it or not,we dare not take the chances to bike along the coast,as our map doesn't show any roads accessible to Phetchaburi.Highway 4 is getting much heavier traffics as we are coming closer to Bangkok less than 200km away.Both of us find it hard to ride without the sunglasses as the amount of heat,sun,smoke and dust constantly posing a threat to our vision.So we bought a pair each at the petrol station. It feel so much better!
The highlight for today is a surprise guitar sing along session at a lunch stop restaurant at Khao Yoi.Since Brent and I knew a little of strumming a guitar,the son of the restaurant kindly offer his Yamaha acoustics guitar.We entertain our self with Brent singing a New Zealand song and my favorite John Denver "Take me home country road" and "child" .After about an hour of happy hour, we moves on for another 35 km to Samut Songkhram,surprisingly not a big modern town as what we had expected.There is a railway track in the main street operating 4x daily service to Bangkok,but at the end of the day,you find eating tables and hawker stalls spread over it.
                                   Road side stall of morning coffee and "yau char kui"
                                                Yes Brent " That's how you do it!"
                                             A very familiar sign back home
                                            "Take me home country road"
                                     At last , the first sign board with Bangkok in sight
                            Road side stall on the way to Samut Songkhram
                                                    Selling boiled and salted fishes

                                         Very similar to our pasar malam stall

                                    The finish product.....
                                    You are eating and sitting on a railway track   
                                    The Maeklong train station which has 4x daily service to Bangkok
                                                           Little pancake stall

Day 22 Mon 19/07 - Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park to Cha' Am

Today Distance: 86.5 km               Total: 1545.8 km
Today Temp : 26 - 35c
Time on Bike : 4hr 27 min
Ave Speed : 19.4 kmh                  Max: 39.0 kmh
Ave Climb : 1%                            Max: 5%
Altitude: 113m                              Max: 72m
Today spending : 668 baht            Total: 7743baht

I was awaken very early by the restaurant workers' noises and movements as they prepare for opening business.We quickly packed up as we were camping on their compound.Before we go,we ordered hot drinks from them as we still have our morning foods.The ride out from the park was rather boring as most of the scenery the same,furthermore I was riding without my sunglasses for the 1st time.What a coincidence! as Brent also lost his yesterday.The funny thing is,both have no idea where and when,and how we lost them? Brent wanted very much to stop in Hua Hin to look for a bike shop to replace the derailleur housing and that mystery "tak...tak..." sound.And ended spending a solid 3 hours to locate a bike shop and only managed to repair the derailleur housing.Hua Hin is very touristic,full of "farlang" means white men in Thai. I was not in the mood to continue as my muscles has rested too long,but Brent wants to continue,so we rode for another 40km to Cha'Am.All the accommodations were located along the beach,our guesthouse ( no name) cost 300baht,the cheapest I guess.
                                Crabs catching with the blue plastic container
                                  Pineapple and their by products- sweet and juicy
                         Hua Hin Bike shop where Brent repaired his rear derialleur
                                       Cha'Am beach view from our 2nd floor room
                                  Many Bicycles for rent here in Cha'am beach
                         The sea started to get rough with dark cloud looming close
                                 And the beach is quiet down after a short rain

Day 21 Sun 18/07 - Prachuap Khiri Khan to Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

Today Distance: 73.8 km             Total: 1459.3km

Today Temp : 25- 35c
Time on Bike : 3hr  49min
Ave Speed : 19.3 kmh      Max: 42.0 kmh                                                                                                    Ave Climb : 2%                Max: 10%
Altitude: 110m                  Max: 84m
Today spending : 453 baht           Total: 7075baht

Feeling a little sad to leave such a beautiful town in PrachuapKhiri Khan,isn't the name also sound LOVELY? Having bid farewell to Gary but Ning was not in good mood for a group photo.We started at 7.40am and follow the same road back to Highway 4.The pace was furious with me leading in front,with the help of a little tail wind and a pretty flat highway.Brent signal for a rest stop and a check on my cyclometer show an average of 23.5 km/h. Then something unexpected struck after the rest.I felt a jerk like something hitting my back wheel as I tried to balance myself from falling,the next minute I saw Brent has plunged into the side bushes with hid trailer landed on one side.Luckily for him,no injury caused but his bike derailleur housing was badly damaged.He spent almost an hour to get it ridable temporary.Today wasn't a good day for Brent,having also lost his sunglasses in Ning's Guesthouse.The 2nd unexpected event happened when we did a right turn from Highway 4 to Khao Daeng town situated in Khao Sam Roi National Park as recommended by Gary.We were not told of the 200baht entry fee.We  paid up rather unwillingly cos' its too far to ride back to the highway.Our destination was to stay in Hua Hin earlier,we thought we might as well camp in the park to explore to make the 200 baht worth.While riding along the quiet roads,we saw many limestone rock hills and vast areas of shrimp ponds being farmed by the villagers.We climbed to the top of the Khao Daeng View Point by hiding our bikes in the bushes.The panorama view from the top was fantastic! Coastal sea on one side and the mountain on the other,with the villages,temples and roads on the low land.One disappointment was too late for a visit to the Phraya Nakhon Cave which has a temple built inside. We set up our tents next to the restaurant with permission given for shower.
                                       Group picture with Gary in Ning's Guesthouse
                           Gary's Hartley Davidson (Honda 125) has travelled 160,000km
                                     Tower at the right turn-off to Ban Khao Daeng
                     At the entry Check point of Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park . fee 200baht
                                                                         Park Headquarter
                                                   Languors active in the mangrove tree
                         Passing thru' earth gravel path to climb up the Khao Daeng View Pt
                                             Hiding our bikes at the bushes

                                          Brent watering the cactus plant on the way up

                                           At the top of the Khao Daeng View Pt

                                                    The Happiness......

                                                "Brent you jump ,Then I jump ok?"

                                 Bird's eye view of the Khao Daeng town and the sea

                                                   Beautiful temples below the hill
                                                    Very lively animal sculptures
                                                          Overlapping rock faces
                                                                 Fishing village
                                              Prominent landmark of Crab and dragon of the beach
                        Walk on the rock path to visit the cave,but too late,it was closed
                                 Sai Beach at the end of the rock walk
My 2nd night camp at the compound next to a restaurant.The big Gong at the back where we had our shower.And my surprise guard at my tent - Dog