Today was a day that could be best described as “Character Building”
It started off fine into the sunshine of Chumphon. We were a little slow out of the blocks, party because we had a hotel breakfast and partly because we\re both feeling a little sub-par. We have a general level of fatigue but also between a chest infection and Siubhan’s swollen ankle, sleep was less than usual.
The sunshine is hot when it shines on you and it was another day for the Factor 50. The exit from the city of Chumphon was swift and sudden, there’s not much suburbs and we were straight into the countryside again of lush greenery before we hit the main road (41) at 10km. Siubhan had done the research and she knew there was a Cafe Amazon at 12km for espresso and cappuccino. Also, the 7-11 for the usual provisions and to top up the water in our backpacks and bottles. The bonus at this stop was the ginger cat that was stretched out on the bench seating that Siubhan befriended for 15 minutes.
The 41 was a bit of a chore, undulating and we were finding it hard work. But the sun gradually disappeared behind clouds so at least we weren’t being baked. Just before leaving the 41 at the 36km point there was another Cafe Amazon, so it was time for a caffeine refill.
Once we were off the 41, things changed quickly. Firstly, I had planned a scenic route and scenic means bumps. The second thing that happened was that the clouds darkened. At the moment, this part of Thailand seems to be a bit like Florida in August and a rainstorm is scheduled every day at 3pm. But bigger hills means bigger rainstorms and this is where the character building stuff came in. Pushing that weight up and down hills in microbursts was hard work the chatter between us went to silence and vital comms only.
Bits of it were absolutely stunning and the steepest bit we encountered was, thankfully, downhill. Rolling at 170kg in the wet down that hill, I was really grateful of the investment in good brakes and tyres but I wanted to see what they could do and I brake tested myself which gave me a smile and great confidence that we could stop pretty quickly if needed.
After the seaside bumps and cliff-tops we followed the beach for the last 10km at sea level in the wet. It’s pretty deserted in this part of the world, but we knew it would be. In fact, the only suitable place to lay our head for the night that was coming up on Booking.com and Agoda was the Tusita resort. At 3700THB, it’s the most expensive place we’ve stayed yet but it’s a lovely 4* collection of stilted bungalows set just back from the beach in a remote area. There’s a little Thai hamlet a couple of km to the south of us but the run in to this place felt almost post-apocalyptic with deserted run-down resorts and abandoned buildings.
The resort itself is also surreal in its lack of guests. When we arrived it was like we’d woken the staff up. The behaviour was as you expect from a place of this quality but probably just a little too attentive. The manager met us and supervised the check-in making sure that we had cold, wet towels for our very sweaty faces.
As we were walked to our bungalow out in the rainforest* we had 4 people accompany us sort of trying to help but it’s far easier if we just manipulate our bikes ourselves now.
The room is lovely and very well appointed. There’s a paradox that we’re possibly the remotest we have been yet and probably have the best selection of western TV channels that we have seen on this trip.
But now it’s nearly 10pm we’ve just had dinner in the deserted restaurant. Deserted all but for one lonely English chap dining alone. 2 mins later, we’ve established he’s a bizjet pilot here on a gig flying a Gulfstream 650 and this is the closest hotel that had any availability. We had a good chat but he reminded us very much of the life of a good friend, an ILS calibration pilot, stuck out in the middle of nowhere waiting for the time for wheels up.
Off to bed now. The adventure continues but today was a challenging one for both of us.
* Long conversation to be had here on whether it’s still a rainforest, it’s not now due to the plantation deforestation and it now has a dry season, but there’s a reason it’s all so green around here