On The Road, Planning

Day 47 – Chanthaburi to Trat(ish)

We left Chanthaburi at the best starting time. I would love to be able to tell you that Natt and I jump out of bed and are ready to roll fully energized everyday, but I will let you in on a little secret, Natt and I are NOT morning people. We both hate mornings, we’re not chatty, we’re not talkative, we’re more like newly born zombies… hungry and brain dead. One difference is when I hear the alarm I need to get up, I cannot push the snooze button because I know it’s only a short respite before it annoyingly goes off again.

I jump out of bed and turn off the alarm and head for a long warm shower. I usually have awful sleeps on beds that are too hard for my liking. The hard beds make my spine hurt so I spend 10 or more minutes running hot water down my back, not really because it hurts but more because it just feels good. My long shower gives Natt enough time to get used to the idea of getting out of bed and usually by the time I’m finishing up she has already checked emails on her phone and is ready to take over the bathroom.

Mornings with cold water showers are the worst and I find myself splashing myself in all the important areas that need a clean and trying NOT to get my spine wet, especially the upper section at the base of my neck, that’s the worst. I assume it’s the same for everyone, I don’t know how people could ever run cold water down their backs. So after we’re clean we pack up the remainder of our bags and gear.

Usually we pack most everything up the night before and leave out a pile of clothes and other stuff for the next day, this reduces the effect of our zombie-ness and reduces our chance for error (like leaving something behind in the hotel). We then pull together the final stuff that is outside of our bags, usually the clothes we slept in, toiletries, and any equipment we’ve had charging overnight like phones, batteries, and our computer. Our morning packing ritual is usually very easy since we plan most of it the evening before.

We take the bike outside, because we usually have the bicycle inside our room overnight. If possible we even put the panniers on the bike and have them closed and ready to roll, this is of course if we can roll the bike out of the door and onto the path or road without too much difficulty. We like places that allow us to basically ride the bicycle out the door, they are definitely on the preferred list.

We do most of this without much chatter, without talking at all really. I think the most likely words we say is ‘got everything?’ before we lock the door and move on. Since I’ve planned the GPS route the day before our escape from town is usually painless. We don’t talk much about the route either, it’s quiet and relaxed early morning riding with little to no traffic and usually just a few people sweeping roads and setting up food stalls.

Our first chat is usually at the first mini-mart we see, a discussion takes place to see if we need supplies, water, snacks, caffeine or more. More often than not we stop, picking up water to fill our bottles and a zero calorie Coke for me. Sometimes we get a cake, sometimes we get local Thai food from a nearby vendor, everyday is different and unplanned.

This first stop is where we usually say ‘GOOD MORNING’ to each other and ask about last night’s sleep, we talk about strange dreams, and discuss the bad music coming from the disco across the road that we failed to notice before we pulled into the hotel yesterday. Our day definitely starts here. We don’t like meals at hotels, 85% of the time they’re crap and it would have been cheaper and tastier to eat on the side of the road somewhere.

Hotel breakfasts in Thailand are not winners overall, I think that I’ve had 2 places that have had solid white-man-style foods, the others have a pseudo-western version which is generally a big disappointment. Cold toast, cold fried eggs, orange cordial water and a whole bunch of other stuff that looks like you’re in home country but mostly a bad facsimile. Unless your hotel is charging over 2,000 Baht per night you should expect crap, that would be my general rule. If you’re paying over 3,000 Baht and get bad food then you’ve definitely been ripped off.

Today’s ride was 85 kms, 30% of it was on back roads, 30% was on Sukhumvit, which by this point is pretty low on traffic and actually a decent road to be on… the last 40% was towards the beach. As this will be our last beach-side town for 5,500 kms we thought it would be a good idea to get a bungalow on the water and have dinner by the sea, so we did both. We watched the sunset and ate dinner on the beach with a beautiful backdrop of Ko Chang (Elephant Island).

Tomorrow we will ride less than 20 kms into Trat city. In Trat we will visit the post office, find some bicycle shops, and locate a guest house for a day of relaxation, because the day after tomorrow we will ride North 120 kms into the hills. I think we need to make sure we are ready for it so an extra day of rest will help. I’m personally looking forward to cycling in Isan, I’ve done it before and it’s lovely countryside and the people are extra friendly.

On our crazy bicycle we’re bound to get a lot of attention, hellos and welcomes, but most of all a LOT of wide-eyed stares.

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