A Strange Vibe in Satun

Ok, we’re very tired after a difficult day, but there’s a strange vibe in Satun.

Today was hard graft in fierce sunshine. It wasn’t as hot as a couple of the days in Vietnam and it wasn’t as steep as a couple of the other days but the combo of all of that on the back of the fatigue from a couple of long days made today hard work. Ideally, we wouldn’t have done this distance with the slightly higher elevation in this heat but lack of en-route accommodation options forced our hand a bit for longer rides.

Just to take a sideways diversion for a moment, there are some touring cyclists that read this blog that will be wondering what the hell I’m on about; they’re at the next level to us, they’re at the level of being a bit more chilled about just riding and sorting “something” out when they get to the end of the day and that “something” might be crashing at a temple or police station. We’re not there yet and I tip my hat to you guys. We’re still what might be considered to be “credit card tourers” that like a hot shower and a/c most nights. Yup, that’s probably more us than I would care to admit and I tip my hat to those of you that are a little braver.

Anyway, back to the vibe of Satun.

The feeling of Sabai in Thailand is prevalent and all-pervasive and it’s still here to a degree but maybe it’s the much higher police and military presence here that’s put us both slightly on edge.

Without exaggeration we must have gone through 10 roadblocks today, maybe 8 police and 2 military, and then through another 10 junctions with a strong police or military presence. All were very Thai and friendly enough but the echoes of my time in Northern Ireland in the early 80s were strong.

The well-publicised troubled border areas are nearly a hundred miles from here so don’t get me wrong, we didn’t approach the roadblocks with a cover guard hidden somewhere in a sangar keeping a rifle trained on us, it was nothing like that and there’s probably more than a little over-sensitivity, but it feels very different from any other area we’ve been in Thailand.

Tomorrow we cross the border to the south and once we’re away from the border area, I’m sure all feelings of “troubles” will be behind us.

Again, echoes of a previous life and a previous time.

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