On The Road

Day 52 – Mueang Sa Kaeo to Non Din Dang

Today Natt was feeling pretty bad. She had an upset tummy at 5am, so we went back to bed and waited for it to settle down. At around 7am she announced that her stomach was as good as it was going to get and that we should be heading off.

At 9am, the tummy was still fine but her nose was running like a tap and she had developed a headache, but like the trooper she is she soldiered on until quitting time. She was looking rather haggardly by the end of the day and when we found the first resort we pulled in and collapsed (for many reasons).

Before Natt’s nose started playing up, I had a GPS routing issue that sent us onto sandy dirt roads, through a plantation, and generally into ‘Ask the Leylands’ style of cycling. At some point, Natt pointed out today’s riding was more like a Sunday ride with the Bangkok Bike Hash rather than a cycle tour. And she was correct.

Google Maps’ lovely shortcut was supposed to remove 4km from what was going to be a rather long day with some nasty hills at the end. What the ‘shortcut’ ended up actually doing was increasing the trip by 4km (but more like 8km with regards to time because of how rough the terrain was), making the day extra hard.

For the next 40kms Natt sniffed her way through the countryside. By this time, I think we had run out of tissue paper or whatever we had was too rough on her nose. At the 95km mark we arrived at a row of Thai food stalls selling “Jungle Food” but there was a Streets brand ice cream van there as well and we raided it for more ice-creams than a normal person would buy.

While enjoying our ice cream we were told of the 3km high grade road up ahead, it being one of the locations that’s always on Thai news television because trucks frequently have trouble stopping on their way down this particular hill. By this time, Natt was not feeling great, and I was pretty tired from the 90 plus kms we had already completed. We were both ready to find a room and crash onto a bed.

We hit the 3km hill, and we pedaled. We pedaled until we ran out of gears, and then we pedaled some more. Then we dismounted and pushed the bike until the road crested. Of course this was only 1km up the hill we still had 2 more kms to go. So we kept doing the same routine, pedal until we could not pedal anymore, walk the bike to the next crest, rest, and then pedal more.

The final 500m we were dead and there was zero shoulder. Did I mention we were dead? So Natt and I pushed the bike to the top of the final crest and collapsed. We spent around 10 minutes sitting in the shade pouring cold water over our heads. We worked out that it had taken us 45 minutes to go a distance of 3 kms.

I think if it took us that long riding, the 50kms to Mae Hong Son that we plan to do in the near future is going to kill us. If you do the math it could end up taking us approximately 50 hours!… that could be a problem.

At the top of the hill was another row of Thai food stalls so we rolled up to the first one and purchased a half dozen bottles of water. Half of the water went into replenishing our bottles while the remainder we poured over our heads… it was COLD. It was AWESOME.

We agreed to stay at the first accommodation we came across. Natt had noticed a sign right at the top of the hill that said there was a ‘resort’ 10kms away. So that was our new target, and after riding 10kms we found absolutely nothing… we kept riding. At 11 and 12kms there was still nothing that resembled a resort. And finally at 13kms we arrived in front of a string of resorts.

I know 3kms doesn’t sound like a big distance but I was ready for the day to be over and Natt really needed to stop. Once we checked in to one of the resorts Natt later told me that she had thanked the front desk lady for building the resort where she did, because she would have died if she had to go any further.

We showered, cooled off, and went to the restaurant and ordered 5 meals and 1 beer for 2 people. We ate and then went straight to bed. No journal, no nothing, just sleep.


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