Today was the first day of our cycling experience, following two days of driving from KL to Krabi. We left our car in Krabi Town, in front of the hotel where we stayed at. The plan was to start cycling very early in the morning so that it would not be too hot by the time we reached Phang Nga. But the plan was left as a plan rather than a reality — who would have thought that many things had to be settled beforehand? In the end, we didn’t leave until nearly 8 AM. Packing our essentials into our favourite Ortlieb rear bicycle panniers took much of our time as we were not used to it yet. Not only that, I was quite worried about the rain – Krabi had been raining since yesterday, non-stop. I started to doubt myself that I could cycle in this completely wet weather. Foogie reassured me that it would be fine; we would cycle no matter what! Rain or shine. So I had no choice but to start cycling and hoping that the rain would stop.
It did. At least for a while. As soon as we reached road number 4033, we saw a huge black cloud heading towards us. Within 5 minutes, it rained. It did not just rain! It rained cats and dogs. I struggled to open my eyes as I paddled on the small road through a forest. A few motorcycles and cars passed by. Apparently, riding a motorcycle or sitting in an open pickup truck without any rain gear was common. We were not the only one.
The small road that we took was nice and less crowded compared to the major road number 4 (which could lead us all the way to Bangkok!). I decided to avoid this road at all costs and do a bit of detour so that we could see the real South of Thailand. The road less travelled was indeed full of surprises. Besides a small patch of forest, we passed through plantations with a backdrop of limestone hills, a number of villages with a centrally located mosque (indicating a Muslim village), and some lonely wats (indicating a Buddhist town nearby) in the middle of nowhere.
Cycling while carrying 8-10 kilos of bag panniers was easier than I previously thought. I did not have to struggle much, thanks to the almost flat roads. We cycled passed through road number 4034 until we encountered the end of the road. The villagers told us that we missed the turn and had to cycle for about 5 kilometres until we reached the junction. Surprisingly, the road was so smooth along the way, that we did not even realise that it was the end of the road!
Despite the rain, I enjoyed cycling this route. My favourite part of the route was the beginning of the 1002 road. This road was closed for construction, but we decided to pass through it anyway! As soon as we left the construction area, we saw a very beautiful rocky/limestone mountain range. What was so exciting about this was that we cycled on the road that cut through a mountain (i.e. we cycled in between this mountain!). Surely we would not have encountered this if we had driven our car!
Then, the nightmare started as soon as we passed Ao Leuk, a town about 38 kilometres away from Phang Nga. The road condition after Ao Leuk (i.e. road number 1002) was the worst — it was damaged most probably due to heavy trucks carrying oil palms. There were road constructions for every 3-5 kilometres, forcing us to cycle through mud and knee-deep puddle. There were few houses along the 15-20 kilometres stretch of road. There were hardly any food stalls in the area where most of the population were Buddhists. None of the people spoke any English and toilets were almost non-existent. A local told us to go to the police station when we asked if it was okay to use her toilet. In the end, we found a toilet in a small neighbourhood where cockfighting was being performed (with the background voice of people screaming which sounded like a real human-to-human fighting). The whole area of road 1002 was also filled with palm oil plantations which made everything worst. There was no beautiful scenery, nor mountain to see. Everything looked so dry and ugly (thanks to these palm oil trees!). I could not imagine cycling through this lonely road during hot sunny weather. For the first time, I appreciated the rain that never stopped pouring until now.
We sighed with relief as soon as we reached Phang Nga province. Palm oil plantations were nowhere to be seen. Instead, there were many trees (how I missed you!!!) and a couple of villages. The town of Phang Nga was still 23 kilometres away, but that stretch of road was the hardest. I started to feel tired (of sitting). I did not realise that we already cycled for more than 70 kilometres. My butt started to scream of pain — even though I wore my padded cycling pants (imagine if I did not wear that??).
Alhamdulillah, we reached the Phang Nga town before 4 PM. I could not believe I did this! I could not believe I actually cycled almost 100 kilometres on my first day of cycle touring!!! What was I thinking?? How did I get here? I looked at the map in disbelief.
All in all, we passed through forests, small villages, all sorts of plantations, and mountains. It was quite a journey! The next thing I asked Foogie was: “can we not cycle tomorrow?” 🙂
The Cycling Touring in Thailand continues…
- Actual Distance (Krabi – Phang-Nga): 92.7 kilometres (according to Google Maps)
- Total Distance Cycled: 96.67 kilometres
- Total Duration: 7.5 hours (including breakfast, lunch, and stops)
- Average Speed: 11 km/h
- Departure Time: 7.51 AM
- Arrival Time: 3.30 PM
- Full statistics: http://www.movescount.com/moves/move78925854 (the last 30 kilometres were not recorded as the watch was out of battery)