Through palm oil plantations towards the sea

On the way to Krabi

On the way to Krabi

Country: Thailand
From Chaya to Ao Nang, Krabi
Lesson learned: Either you know how to climb a rock or you will need all your muscles
Laughed about: me on the karaoke machine
Most wonderful miracle: A lovely island in walking distance
Food we ate: 8000 Breakfast calories, Fish curry, peanuts, mangosteen, rambutan and litchi,
Greatest challenge: muscle pain
Days on the bike: 3
Kilometers cycled: 211.73
Average Kilometers per day: 84.7
Total Kilometers cycled till Ao Nang, Krabi: 12510.98
Total days travelled till Ao Nang, Krabi: 690

August 2013: Thailand by bike part 4

Sunshine! Finally. The laundry that I had washed four days ago was still wet and started to smell bad. We stopped for breakfast in a big supermarket and ate everything we could get. Sportsmen take care to have a light meal before they get started. We never took care for that. We just ate whenever we were hungry. The broken gears slowed me down, but the 8000 breakfast calories gave me an even harder time on the bike.

Sunshine and palm oil

Sunshine and palm oil

Today the speedometer showed a special number that we would not reach again within the following 111.111 kilometers: The first 12.345 kilometers cycled. We cheered with warm water because there was no way getting a cold drink.

Warm water, cool champagne - what's the difference?

Warm water, cool champagne – what’s the difference?

For most of the time there was nothing but palm oil fields, a beverage factory (without sales shop) and palm oil refineries. There were no villages in sight. Either the street was new and led straight through the countryside ignoring the settlements, or the many fields did not leave any space for houses and gardens with vegetables.

Happy Rambutan

There is always space for some Rambutan. Inside the hairy skin there is a sweet white fruit

After some 60 kilometers we left the main street and continued on the 41. It was not easy to find a place for food and we were very lucky to spot a place where they sold fish curry to takeaway. We were wondering if it was a good idea to pitch the tent between the palm trees, when a colorful building appeared behind the curve. It was a karaoke bar. We stopped and asked for a place to camp. The owner Saksit offered us a place in the cozy garden and a shower inside his house. Great! Half an hour later we found ourselves on his terrace, eating the takeaway curry and plenty of local fruit, such as rambutan, litchi and my favorite: mangosteen. Saksit and his wife told us that they had barely opened their bar half a year ago.

Saksit and his wife helped us out with a very safe and comfi camping spot. Live music included

Saksit and his wife helped us out with a very safe and comfi camping spot. Live music included

I wondered where their customers may come from because there were hardly any villages around. But business was good and they were satisfied. Saksit had another part time job and his wife took care for the garden and the animals (I heard the pigs’ grunting at night). Saksit started the karaoke machine and we sang Thai pop songs (he) and English rock ballads (we). Slowly the bar got fuller. Our friends were warm and curious, the beer tasted delicious, the tent stood on soft and dry grass and the crickets chirped. It was one of these days that we expected nothing and got more than we could have asked for.

Hilly road towards the sea

Hilly road towards the sea

At 7 am it was too hot to stay inside the tent. I was as tired as the day before. Nine days nonstop with full speed may have been a bit too much. The street was hilly as usual and soon we cycled through the first lime stone rocks. Krabi could not be far! Two snakes crossed the street. One of them was more than one meter long. They appeared so suddenly that we nearly ran them over. Half an hour before sunset we followed the signs towards a bay.

Busy man in his office without doors

Busy man in his office without doors

If there was water there will be guesthouses, we assumed. There were only some 20 kilometers left to A Nang, Krabi, but we did not want to cycle in the dark, so we left the street and cycled some 10 kilometers towards Tha Lane Bay. The climbs were shorter but far steeper now and I had to change down into the second gear, even though I knew that there was no way I could lift the lever back into the third again.

The bay at sunset

The bay at sunset

Right at sunset we reached the bay. Unfortunately there were only expensive hotels around. The cheapest was said to be 600 Baht and 3-4 kilometers away. What should we do? We were really in need of a shower. In winter it may be okay to skip the daily shower every now and then, but in summer we really felt filthy with all the sweat, dust and dirt on our bodies. My arms were full of white salt sprinkles and redbrown dust. Well, we would just get up really early by the following day, cycle the few remaining kilometers, find a cheap guesthouse and take an extra long shower. And today we would camp. Roberto asked me to hold his bike while he approached a man who prepared a campfire in the garden of a newly built house.

Jack and his little son

Jack and his little son (the one on the left)

Jack was not the owner of the house. He and his family took care for it while the owners were not home. Instead of a camping spot he offered us our own room in the empty house to spend the night. There was a bathroom with running water and we were more than happy.

Our view on the sea by the following morning

Our view on the sea by the following morning

By the following morning everything felt relaxed. We had all day time to get to Ao Nang, Krabi and find a cheap and nice guesthouse, so we cycled slightly slower. It felt like a ride through the park on a Sunday afternoon. We knew that we could slow down, stop for pictures and have a break when ever we wanted. But we did not need any of these. Riding without time pressure was great enough.

Elephant transport in Thailand

Unexpected traffic on the way to Ao Nang

It was not easy to find Ao Nang and when we arrived we asked for prices and facilities in six different guesthouses before we stayed in the Aus Thai, a rather small guesthouse, run by a nice lady who trained her nephew to run the place. We both took another shower before we strolled around town, visited souvenir shops, talked to waiters of the expensive restaurants (20% low season discount!), and watched the travel agencies’ offices. In the early afternoon we laid down on the beach. I could hardly believe that we were really on vacation now. After 9 ½ days and 860.23 kilometers (more than 90 per day) we were really in need of a break.

It smelled like salt and there were boats between palm trees. The beach could not be far anymore!

It smelled like salt and there were boats between palm trees. The beach could not be far anymore!

It smelled like sun cream, Laughing and screaming children with sun hats splashed in the water, an old man sold refreshments and behind us mothers and couples got Thai massages under bamboo roofs. Sand sticked to my beer can, I watched the lime stones on the coast and listened to the regular sound of the waves.

Thailand: One beach - two bays.

One beach – two bays. This is the coolest island I have ever seen.

By the following day we decided to cycle to the neighboring beach Noppharat Thara. On the very end of the beach we spotted a small island with a slim sandy beach. There was water to both sides of the beach and hardly any tourists around. I love low season. We held our backpacks higher and walked through the water to the island. What a day! The sun was shining and I was more than happy.

Only two days later we were back on the bikes. We had planned a one-day trip to the peninsula Railay and cycled to the Nammao bay. The longtail boats over to the peninsula cost 60 Baht from there instead of 100 from Ao Nang.

The famous rocks of the Railay peninsula

The famous rocks of the Railay peninsula

We headed straight to the lagoon. In order to get there we had to climb some lime stone rocks. There were big ropes on the rocks and we made our way up surprisingly fast. Krabi and its surroundings are famous for their climbing walls and schools and we were happy that we could try out climbing for free. All the way up we met Glauzia, a Brazilian geologist who decided to climb together with us. It was her first time too. After quite a climb we had three walls to descend. They were all quite short but descended vertically and we had to use ropes, find grips with hands and feet and try not to ruin our clothes on the muddy soil. I tried first and when I reached the floor, Roberto and Glauzia followed.

Indiana and Indiannika Jones

Indiana and Indiannika Jones

The second wall was little harder, Glauzia tried several times before she gave up. Roberto and I decided that now that we came that far we wanted it wll, even though the third and last wall was the hardest. There was a short overhang and the grips were more difficult to find but once we reached the bottom we were more than proud of ourselves. The lagoon was not the typical paradisiacal swimming spot. It was a blue waterhole surrounded by stones and filled with plenty of mud and clay. For me the climbing experience and the adventure were worth it all. The way up was easier because we could spot the grips quickly, but since we had no climbing skills at all we needed plenty of brawn instead.

We made it to the lagoon! Next time I will leave the plastic shoes at the view point and climb barefoot.

We made it to the lagoon! Next time I will leave the plastic shoes at the view point and climb barefoot.

Back in the center of the island we visited three of the four beaches, watched how the monkeys stole food from sleeping tourists, swam, relaxed our hands and observed how the professional climbers and guided beginners climbed the walls.

In the afternoon it began to rain. We had no idea that it would not stop again. We spent one rainy day indoors before we packed the bikes, ignored the raindrops and headed towards Malaysia.

 

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