Day two on mainland Thailand
Distance – 120km
We awoke hungry. Despite buying a variety of items at the streetside stalls (corn on the cob, sausages, chicken, vegetable noodles (heaps of chilli...) bananas) the night before none of it was very good, so we hadn’t eaten much.
We started riding and about 10km down the road stopped at a service station for yoghurt and drinks. They didn’t have much food so we just kept riding.
The scenery was beautiful. The road wound between huge, spiralling sheer tree covered mounds of earthen rock that scattered the countryside. Where did these obscure peaks come from? We speculated on theories, concluding that they must be the remnants of a meteorite shower from millions of years ago. The road wound up and down these mountains for the whole day, and while our legs burned, we enjoyed the challenge and the beauty.
In the middle of the day we were starving, and considering we spoke and read no Thai, and the locals spoke no English, we were limited in what we could get. We stuck to the roadside stall where we could at least see what we were picking and point it out. We bought a piece of ‘chicken’ and some rice each, although given the large size of the leg we were eating we were not convinced it was chicken. A happy, healthy looking dog was running around and sniffed our bikes, and we wondered (hoped we weren't) if we were eating one of his friends.
Back on the bikes and the heat was unbearable, so we stopped for a couple of hours in the cool of an internet café.
Before we knew it the time was 5pm and we had just over an hour before dark, and – according to the GPS – 33km to the nearest hotel. If we rode hard, maybe we could make it.
But not with the hills. We ground our way to the top of each rise and sped down the other side – repeating this furiously as the light quickly disappeared.
It grew dark and we had 7km to go. Sam had a light handy so we pulled that out and kept going. Shanna went at the front so that the traffic would first see the light and somehow found the strength to do a fast pace. Maybe it was the fear of the angry dogs that kept jumping out of the bushes and barking and chasing the bikes. Numerous times Sam jumped off the bike to threaten the dogs while Shanna sped away. One dog we didn’t see came close to getting Sam, but he managed to get off the bike and chase it away just in time.
In the pitch black we checked the GPS one more time. We had to be at the hotel, but there were no signs. The GPS said the hotel was 50m away, and we saw a dim sign in Thai language that we decided to investigate. Just as we read the ‘24’ and realized this must be it, another dog ran out of the darkness and Sam, furious now from all the dogs we’d encountered, picked up a rock and threw it at the dog. It ran away for now, but every time our backs were turned it came back.
We wandered into the yard of the ‘hotel’ and couldn’t see a reception, or anyone to talk to. The place was a dump, it looked like the rooms had a bit of cloth for a door, plus there was the dog who wanted to kill us, so we opted to keep going. We pulled things out of our bags trying to find more lights, and eventually we were back on the road.
The GPS said we had just 3.5km to the next hotel so we quickly pulled up outside a service station with a sign in Thai, with the magic numbers ‘24’, pointing around the back. A young guy who spoke a little English came and showed us to a room. Cheap, but it would do. Plus it had a door, no dogs and a resident trannie.
Across the road we scoffed down burgers and hotdogs from the 7-eleven, wishing we had some real food but not sure how to find it.
Sam and Shanna Evans are from Melbourne, Australia