Blog Live to Ride — 22 April 2013

6am came early on day two as I prepared for what was shaping up to be the longest day of the trip on the iron horse. From Baan Krut, on the Gulf of Thailand, to Krabi, on the Andaman Sea it’s a roughly 452 km ride cutting across the country. Before I hopped on the bike and hit the road I walked across the street to the beach and was able to catch the sun rising just as it came over the horizon. Official start time on day two was 6:27am.

The crisp, cool morning beach air was refreshing as I motored back to the main highway. I was up and riding before most in the area had risen. On the side of the road the beach dogs hadn’t even come out of their dirt burrows yet or up from the warm spot they found on the pavement directly in the middle of the road. The only people who seemed to be up were the village monks walking along the roadside receiving morning alms. Both young and old, they walked barefoot collecting food offerings from those in the community who were up.

I passed a temple on my left just before I hit Highway 4, which I presume is where the monks were walking. As I passed I could smell incense burning and the citrusy, tangy smell hung in the air for about 2 km making a morning symphony for my nose. A few mile markers down the road the fat lady had sung and the symphony was over. The peaceful smells were replaced with a light early morning haze, which as I rode through determined was from village families doing their morning trash burn. The pleasant smell of incense was quickly replaced with that of burning plastic and paper.

Adding to early morning sensory awakening was the overwhelming presence of semi-trucks on the road. By around 7:30am both lanes were crowded with trucks carrying containers of this, pallets of that, concrete or fruit. Many trucks were still parked on the shoulder whose drivers, when I rode by, were opening their doors and inspecting their vehicles. My thoughts were they’d driven into the night, pulled over when they were too sleepy to continue and were hitting the road again in the morning when they woke up. They must all share the same wake-up service because they seemed to all hit the road at the same time.

Yesterdays roadside break was pineapple; today the pineapple’s were swapped for bunches of fresh bananas. I pulled over to take a morning break and let some trucks pass; hoping for a gap in the congestion after I had a snack. The vendors were amazed to see a Farang ‘white person/foreigner’ riding a motorcycle through this section of highway. As I briefly tried to explain where I’d come from and where I was going, they looked at me then at my bike and we shared approving smiles. As I was about to continue on, a full truckload of monks appeared for a similar morning snack. Their driver saw me taking photos of the ‘snack-shack’ and immediately hopped out and posed for a photo. As I’ve traveled I’ve seen many trucks like this with monks in the back and always thought it would be a great photo, but for some reason I’ve never had my camera when they drove by. This time I did and it’s definitely a pretty cool shot!

Highway 4 split to Highway 41 just before Chumpon and headed south toward Surat Thai. 3o km or so down the road I veered onto Highway 44 which cuts directly southwest across the country for 130 km. The greenery in this section of the country was more than I’ve ever seen in one area in my life. Cutting through endless fields of palm trees, rubber tree plantations and other tropical vegetation, I couldn’t help but think I was breathing some of the cleanest air in the country. Highway 44 had a few rolling hills, but otherwise was a straight shot. I took its terrain as a welcome opportunity check the Tiger’s top speed. With a little help on the downhill’s I reached 120 km/hr, but full throttle top speed on the flats stayed around 115km/hr. I soon re-connected with Highway 4, then Highway 4201 which snaked me beachside through Krabi’s jagged limestone karsts. Finally reaching the water I think I had similar feelings to Captain Cooke when he first saw land in the Hawaiian Islands, stoked!

After a long day on the bike and strolling another beach, I had again worked up an appetite. Being by the water seafood was plentiful and I found a shop with a nice looking spread out front. I was in the mood for seafood and curry, so I pointed to the largest squid on the ice display and ordered Plaah-Muk Pad Pick Geang (squid in red curry). For 200 baht ($7.00) I had a fresh, spicy and delicious dinner! A terrific end to a long, but great, day riding across the country. Tomorrow is the final leg of the ‘Road to Phatthalung’ and should be another good one!




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