Distance - 148km (60km in the rain)
We planned another 150km day to reach Prachuap Khiri Khan. The idea of riding longer distances and having more rest time to see places was appealing to us, plus if you've done something once, it's easier to do again.
Well, I thought it would become easier.
The morning was difficult - I think it was partly a mental barrier because there were distance signs all along the road, but they were placed about a kilometre apart so every time you saw one there was still so far to go - 145km, 144km, 143km, 141km... this went on for a while and I felt we were getting nowhere. The wind was slowing us down - of course - and I spent a lot of time in Sam's slipstream again.
Luckily though it was an overcast day - which meant it was much cooler than usual. We didn't feel too uncomfortable which made the riding easier. And all of a sudden we had only 70km to go! We were so close.
Then the clouds that we'd been thankful for all day started to get darker, and thicker. The sky was ominous but we would push on. We went past some roadworkers that were packing up. One pointed up the sky eagerly and made rain motions with his fingers. He was warning us to get off the road.
Just up the road the first rain drops fell but they felt so cool and refreshing we kept riding. We only got a couple more kilometres though and they came faster and thicker. We pulled over at a restaurant at the top of a hill. And just in time. Soon the thunder and lightening filled the sky and the rain was bucketing down. We took the opportunity to eat some green chicken curry and rice and have a break.
We stopped for an hour while the storm raged. And then waited another 20 minutes for the rain to turn to drizzle. We still had time to make it before dark, but it would be close. The air was even cooler now though so we'd be able to ride faster.
Another 25km down the road and we were making good time. We would get there before dark easily! But then I felt my bike start to bounce around a bit - a sure sign of a deflated rear tyre. I got off and had a look. Yep. Flat.
Despite how quick Sam has become at changing flats (all of them mine, he hasn't had any!) it still takes at least half an hour by the time you take off bags, the wheel, find the puncture, check the tyre (in this case a big piece of glass was removed), change the tube, pump it up (not easy with a hand pump), put the wheel and bags back on... when we were ready to move again the drizzle was a bit heavier and the sky a bit darker.
We rode furiously. As we neared Pratchuap Khiri Khan we were going through the narrowest part of Thailand. Myanmar was so close! We actually saw a road sign pointing there, and the road that led there was just a narrow, poorly paved side street that no one was using.
The light was fading fast when we found a good cheap hotel (Au$10) just outside Pratchuap Khiri Khan. The girl working there was so nice. She spoke no English but somehow we communicated and laughed a lot. She let Sam borrow her motorbike to go get us some food in the rain and helped us carry our bags up a steep windy staircase to our room.
She was a beautiful girl, but had whitening cream on her face. She had a friend/sister with her who also had the cream on, and a small child, not even two years old, with cream on its face too. All the advertising and entertainment throughout SE Asia features Asians who are 'white' and it is hard to buy a normal moistourising cream or face cleanser - they are all 'whitening'. We see teenage boys wearing the cream, young boys, babies... we didn't realise how much these people want to be white. It is easier to understand why Michael Jackson changed his skin colour when you see the obsession over here. We wanted to tell this nice girl she was beautiful as she was, and not to worry about the cream, but it is so ingrained in their minds we didn't know how.
Sam and Shanna Evans are from Melbourne, Australia