Thailand – following the sea.

(April, 2012)

After Bangkok I came upon the sea. For some reason its always nice to see the sea for the first time, and yep, it popped up as I came down a hill. What isn’t quite as pleasant is the smell of drying fish, at occasional intevals along the side of the road where net platforms with fish drying on them. They’d often be people turning the fish, or vans collecting the fish. And they smelled – well fishy, strongly fishy.

Some days I’d be cycling along the sea front. Able to look out at the beach, sea, rocky lumps that projected out for most of the day. The roads weren’t all on the map (they really weren’t on the map – I wasn’t just lost the map didn’t show all the little ones), but as long as I kept the sea on my left (or right later) I couldn’t get too lost since all the roads eventually got to where I wanted to go.

Upon wondering upon a resort town, as well as eating a lot of amazing ice cream, I decided to try kitesurfing. The day I got there, as I walked along the beach there were hundreds of people out kite surfing. Looked fun as they whizzed along, some doing tricks, others just falling over.

I obviously decided to give it a go and get a lesson or two. The next day I went off to the beach eager for my first lesson. However, there was no wind, and what little breeze there was apparently coming from the wrong direction. I ended up spending the day chilling out of the beach all day with the  instructor people and random other kite  surfing people. Went though a bit of kite surfing theory, swam in the sea, ate and read my book. By the second day there was still no wind. Hmmmmmmm, but late in the afternoon the wind picked up and I ended up having a lesson.

The lesson was fun, although a little frustrating as the wind was still pretty low so the kite kept dropping (for the instructor not just when I was flying it). We didn’t get onto using the board but ended up having the kite drag me along in the sea.

The further down the peninsular you got, the friendlier people got. Not that people where ever unfriendly but people started waving and smiling at me. I’d often get “Welcome to Thailand” shouted at me.

After a relaxed rest day swimming in the sea and sitting on the beach reading I was feeling refreshed and keen. The obvious thing to do was to try and cycle a 100 miles, I’d been meaning to do this at some point, so I didn’t see why not now. A breakfast of fried eggs, sausage, toast and water melon set me up. The cycling was great, it felt a bit like when, in a race, you can just go faster and easier than normal, I was zooming along, with a higher average speed than usual and happy to push it on the odd hill. Two lunches and various snacks later and I was still feeling strong, managed the 100 miles, got into the planned town and ended up having to go a further few miles to get to a another beach side hotel. So 110 miles, 177 km in 8 hrs 40 , which I was pretty chuffed about.

Once I crossed over to the other side of the Peninsular – which was an easier crossing than Loas, although they did put a few hills in the middle to remind me how flat everything had been lately! I ended up in a very touristy village. However, this wasn’t where I aimed to be but after taking a turning too early off the road I cunning ended up going back north for a while and getting completely disorientated  my map wasn’t showing any roads and there weren’t people about to ask. I ended up finding a hotel and stopping there, it wasn’t until 2 days later when I actually worked out where the hell I was! Anyhow, there was signs for a boat trip, so I went on it.

The trip was fun if a little controlled. Having spend the last c. 2 months doing exactly what I wanted when I wanted, to be told at what time to return to the boat and where we were going next all the time was a little strange, but kind of nice in a I don’t have to think about this way. Got to go snorkelling in some pretty impressive waters. Lots of nemo – style fish, bigger colourful ones and funky rock formations with all sorts of stuff growing on them.

Then I carried on down Thailand and into Malaysia,  naturally enough, crossing into a new country involved some big hills to get over a pass…

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