After leaving the tranquility and beauty of the Sri Phanga National Park, we headed to a town called Khura Buri, which wasn’t too far away and a nice gentle ride with mountains keeping their distance to the right. The road was quiet and it was overcast so very pleasant cycling conditions.
We stayed at Alex Homestay, in Khura Buri and really enjoyed meeting Alex, who looked after us superbly – letting us use the washing machine and supplying a high speed internet cable to our room. He even invited us to join him for dinner…
Leaving Alex, with a late start, we cycled north towards Ranong and stopped to camp in a Rubber Plantation for the night, about half way. In our best broken Thai we managed to ask some passerbys if it was ok, they seemed to think so.
After a nice supper, we sat by the trees in the dark, discussing the concept of soulmates. We’ve both just read a book called Brida by Paulo Coelho (author of The Alchemist), which is about soulmates amongst other things. Very interesting read and got us both thinking…
It rained very heavily overnight, yet was still sauna like in the tent. I kept waking up intermittently to check we weren’t being flooded.
Next morning, with waves and smiles from passing scooter riders, we packed up and set off for Ranong. Ranong is predominantly a place where the backpacker buses go and a good place for visa runs, due to the proximity to the Burmese border (read this article to see why we are using the name Burma rather than Myanmar). Plus there are free hot springs, which has to be a lure for any cyclist! It rained most of the way there and was otherwise uneventful, (besides our rather exciting trip to Tesco).
In Ranong, we stayed at the Kiwi Orchid Guest House, right next to the bus station, where we were greeted and shown a choice of nice rooms with fans. There were a few backpackers staying there, who seemed to have had a rough day, with long bus journeys or were simply weary (of travelling?) – they all seemed a bit gloomy to us! Made us glad to be on the bikes and not at the mercy of buses, boats and tour operators. At the same time I can’t help wondering how people can be so grumpy when they are in such a lovely country, at the end of the day it’s their choice to be there and so many people in the world would never even have the opportunity to travel in this way.
We stayed a couple of days in the end and went to the hot springs and explored the town, enjoying the delights of the Food Market.
We can’t help noticing that there is a great appreciation of food here in Thailand, people take their time to sit and have a coffee and a bowl of noodle soup together. Watching the faces of the people cooking and preparing food, it seems that everyone is happy, content, they take pride in their work. After all, making food for people is quite possibly one of the most important jobs you can do, we all gotta eat!
So we too take our time and sit eating Kow Pad Kai (literally: rice fried chicken) and phad thai with pork ( big soft noodles fried in a peanuty/sweet sauce). Most dishes are served with a small bowl of watery soup, wherever you go, it’s free or included in the price. My dish comes with crunchy beanspouts, spring onions and a slice of lime on the side. We learn the word for ice tea, order two and soak up the atmosphere.
It poured with rain solidly for 2 days and we found our trip to the hot springs quite comical. The sign said you could only soak your feet, so we sat on the edge in our waterproof jackets, with our toes in the water. A Thai man was in the pool completely and then others came and did the same, so we decided to ignore the sign and get in.
A one point a lady arrived on her scooter wearing long trousers and a long sleeved top. After greeting us she proceeded to climb into the hottest pool, fully clothed still wearing her scooter helmet! We both looked at it each other and said ‘Only in Asia!’.