On The Road

Day 92-93 – Mueang Phitsunalok

It was 55km or so to Mueang Phitsunalok and I was not feeling very well in the morning. We took it very slow and easy with plenty of breaks along the way. We wanted to make sure I arrived better than a couple of days before. I did!

The ride was ok. We took back roads along a river all the way with very little traffic. We asked a few people along the way about the best route, but in the end we chose our own.

Car drivers have a warped sense of longer/shorter and closer/further, they live in a world where longer straighter roads make for faster trips. Often the faster route is 10-20% longer and on more inhospitable roads. This distance makes a big difference on 100 km day, adding from 30 minutes to an hour to a cycling trip.

The only problem I have with the GPS and Google maps route is that I cannot tell if the road is sealed or dirt. Even hard packed dirt roads can be fine on dry days (and no rain the night before) and they are usually good enough for cycling in Thailand. IF ONLY GOOGLE MAPS could give me the shortest sealed ROUTE, then it would be awesome.

In the past, I have used Google maps satellite images to work out how much of a section is going to be unsealed, since the dirt color roads are pretty easy to spot. And sometimes, if you’re lucky, since these photos can be up to a couple of years old, the road may have been sealed recently, making the ride that much more pleasurable.

So listen to locals, ask them if it’s sealed or not. Ask them if it possible to get through. They’ll tell you it’s curvy and hard to follow, but hopefully you’ve already plotted the shortest route on your GPS. Don’t listen to them if it’s shorter on the main road. Finally, tell them you want small quiet roads, tell them you don’t want freeways.

Phitsunalok is a nice town, it has a river running through the middle of it, and it is compact and small enough to walk around. There are plenty of night markets on the roads to get food in the evening making the whole place seem relatively nice. We’ve seen a lack of public buses and motorcycle taxis, but there is a real taxi company here and some tuk-tuks.

The waters edge road is not that busy. It has a walking path along a section of the water with some small cafes, open air massage places, and some nice quiet places to sit. Overall it’s nice, I think it’s one of the nicer provincial capitals that we’ve visited. Even if they do like to use the horns a little to much.

There are plenty of high end hotels, and tonight we’re going to find NY Steak and Pasta and see what we get. I hope it’s open and I also hope it’s good. I would love a good pasta after the past few days not being able to eat.

Off to Sukhothai tomorrow, only 50kms away. It should be an easy ride, even if it is along the main-ish road for most of the distance. I think we’ll leave just after breakfast (8am) and be there by noon.

We tried the NY Steak and Pasta places, was decent. Good Pasta for Thailand and the price. Anyway, I like Phitsunalok!

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