Chumphon via more beach and more jungle

If ever there was a day to reflect on how lucky we are, it was today. Just a great day to be alive.

The coffee divert!

The ride started by passing the beach restaurant that had been so friendly over the last couple of days and continued down the beach line, rounding the peninsula and then Siubhan had spotted a coffee shop on Google Maps but it was 3km out of our way and it would have been a 6km detour to go there, just for a cappuccino. So we went. No discussion needed as the implicit threat of violence just lay there.

After coffee I grabbed some provisions from the adjoining 7-11; the usual, banana cake, peanuts and bottled water to top our drink bottles.

The sun was fierce but it was also mercifully intermittent in a way that the humidity wasn’t. The Lycra was sodden through by 10km, as was my headband.

Both of our legs (does that sound right? Should it be ‘all of our legs’ or even the more cumbersome ‘both of our pairs of legs’?) Anyway, our legs were still weary and the pace was lowish, but we both mentioned how good it was to be riding the bikes laden again, they feel really different and they’re designed as load-bearers.

It was quite clear on why we weren’t getting through

Back on track we had mixture of the coastal boonies again and a couple of small hamlets as we followed the concrete path down that paralleled the deserted beach. Our right turn away from the beach was coming up but we could see gates from a couple of hundred meters back.

We’re learning increasingly that a lot of stuff in Thailand that may appear to be prohibited at first point is up for discussion when you get there.

So we swung through the gates to the security guard. This was one of those non-negotiable occasions. No English, but the gesticulating was in a universal language that we weren’t getting through. All very pleasant as I pointed out where I wanted to go, but not a chance in hell were we getting past the gates.

Then I saw the sign (pic below) that it was some sort of biosecure establishment for Shrimp bioscience. That explained the dip bath at the gates that all vehicles went through.

So we turned around and backtracked a couple of km and worked our way around it. Mai Pen Rai (no problems)

Soon we passed the front gate of the Shrimp Centre for Genetic Improvement where we had been at the back gate. Ok, understand now.

One of my favourite photos from the trip

So now we’ve turned inland and are in the rolling jungle and plantation hills. Absolutely fantastic mix of perfect tarmac and dirt tracks through the greenest green stuff that I’ve ever seen. We had to stop and take some photos. A lot of it was very dense but also cultivated in either rubber or palm trees. Also the houses around here weren’t shanty style, there is money hereabouts.

Something has changed again though and the local engagement has become a lot less “Yorkshire” and is now more “Newcastle” in its forwardness and warmth. Every little house, shack or person was shouting greetings enthusiastically at us. What we found interesting though was that the greeting was much more the global “Hellooooo” than the Thai “Sawadee Ka(p)”

The run into Chumphon was a non-descript A-Road following the railway line into town and then we realised that it’s been nearly a week since we were in a big Thai town.

Siubhan enjoying sitting on something soft

The hotel we booked, A-Te, is an indulgence as we fancied something nice for New Year’s Eve but at 1290THB (£29) it’s ridiculously cheap by our western standards for what is a very good 3* hotel and much better than many European 4* hotels we’ve stayed in.

Tomorrow night is nearly three times as expensive but that’s a different story of necessity. I’ll talk about that tomorrow.

Just a couple of minor health issues happening, I have a chest infection and although it’s not debilitating the constant coughing is a bit annoying. And Siubhan has a bruised ankle from twisting on a kerb at the resort this morning. We’ve been on walkabout around the pharmacies to find some drugs and maybe an ankle support.

But generally speaking and all in all, we’re in a pretty happy place.


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