Leaving Ranong we set off in the rain, donning waterproof trousers for the first time in months, in the hope that my cycling shorts would not get wet (therefore avoiding chafing issues!). Being so hot I decided to roll them up and make them waterproof shorts…
We cycled along, the road was very new and took us up and up a winding route, with the water pouring down the gutters and drains like small rivers as we rode. Reaching the top we then whizzed down the hill and passed a sign saying ‘Scenic Area’ – with the cloud so low and the rain and spray so dense, it was hard to see anything scenic at all, but I’m sure it was a great view! We both enjoy cycling in the rain, it’s very refreshing and quite good fun, not too different from stomping in puddles with wellies on!
We stopped along the road side for a Beng Beng and a cheese sandwich made with the little bread and cheese we had left – felt like old times, cheese sarnies by the side of the road in the pouring rain.
The road continued to go up and down but through very pretty, leafy, lush areas, before we came to Kra Buri. I zoomed ahead and then realised I had lost Chris. I waited for a while then turned the bike around and went back to see if he was ok – probably stopped to chat to someone. But no he had a puncture. After fixing the puncture it was about 4pm, so we went to get a hot meal and come up with a plan. We decided to stay in Kra buri and went to Pannika Resort, which is a small place off the highway with little ‘bungalow’ rooms, that look like gingerbread houses from the outside. The lady who runs it has lots of cycle tourers staying with her, it’s in one of the Dutch guidebooks I think, so she was used to people turning up on bikes and spoke great English, making us feel very welcome.
Chris promptly fell asleep and then later we watched Bridge over the River Kwai on the laptop – we are going to Kanchanaburi, where the bridge was built, Chris had never seen the film so we downloaded it to watch.
Acts of kindness and a disaster
Next day we had breakfast, which ended up being free and the lady gave us a bag of sugared mango strips to take on our journey to Chumpon – so kind!
The road was flat compared to yesterday and we speeded along, once again with the threat of rain. We reached the Kra of Isthmus which is where the border with Burma meets Thailand and you can see Burma across the river. We stopped briefly as it was now raining quite heavily!
The rain cleared however and we stopped to have a small rest near a house. As we were leaving the lady of the house came out and gave us a bag of mangostine fruit, with a smile and then rode off on her scooter. The fruit lasted us days and is similiar to lychees.
We were making good progress, Chris was ahead of me slightly on the fast roads and as i approached an Army checkpoint (for vehicles, drugs testing) I smiled and prepared to carry on through. One of the solider signalled to me to stop and pull over, slightly bewildered I looked around and saw that Chris was already sat with two Army guys - they had invited us to join them for coffee! I sat down and had a cup of tea ( not being a big coffee drinker). We chatted to them for 10-15 mins, Chris smoked a cigarette or two with them and we explained about our trip before heading off again. Chris has said how nice the coffee was and before we left, the army man gave us a big bag of coffee to take with us! What an amzing day this was turning out to be, people everywhere were so friendly and welcoming.
As we set off I knew i needed to stop somewhere to go to the loo. Public toilets are very uncommon in Thailand, so I usually just dive into the bushes, behind a tree or something. So I said to Chris that I would pull over and go now, but that i would catch him up. After a quick wee I hopped back on the bike and pedalled to catch him up. As I came round the bend in the road I saw an accident up ahead. My first thought was that Chris was involved, and I felt the panic rise in my stomach, however as i got close I saw that it was two vehicles. I looked ahead and couldn’t see Chris ahead of the accident, he must have got further along the road. The two cars (4×4 style) were right across the road, smashed into each other, with glass and debris everywhere. I stopped my bike and got off. As I did the driver of the vehicle most badly damaged, staggered out of his car through the broken windscreen and I saw his face pouring with blood. Chris carries our main first aid kit, but i carry a small one too. I quickly opened my bags and found it, my hands shaking as i did. I wanted to help, and having done two first aid courses I knew the basics, but it’s still the first time I’ve actually had to use it. I found a large swab bandage, good for applying to a wound with pressure to stop the bleeding, but i had no gloves and little else except plasters and wipes. As i turned around i saw that there was a passenger in the car too, the driver opened the door and I saw a young woman, conscious but she fell forward and was helped out of the car. I could see she was badly hurt, her head and eye was badly bruised, swollen and bleeding. Several Thai people had stopped by to help and they took her to the back of a pick up truck and lay her down there, with a pillow for her head. I passed the large bandage to one of the people helping and pointed for them to help the woman. But with virtually no Thai language other than words for food and greetings, I wasn’t really able to explain much and there was so much blood – it was hard to tell where her injuries were. The injured man got in beside her, obviously in shock and his nose still pouring with blood. They lay her on her back and so I gestured for them to turn her on her side into something of a recovery position, and mimed breathing and pointed to her mouth, they turn her on her side but I don’t know if they understood about her airway and to check she was breathing as they travelled. Then before i had chance to do anything they sped off. The nearest hospital was 30km north, same place we were heading, I could only hope they would get there and that she would be ok, hoping that it all looked worse than it was.
The man in the other vehicle was fine and I stopped to ask him if he was hurt, but he motioned that he was ok. His vehicle’s air bag had deployed but the others weren’t so lucky. I cycled away, feeling a bit wobbly myself. The roads here are very good, fast and wide but this road has many sweeping bends. They are blind bends, yet the Thai regularly overtake on a bend, at speed, and I can only think that that is what happen here. I was cautious as i continued and stayed close to the left side of the hard shoulder, watching the traffic in my mirror constantly. I really wanted to catch up with Chris now, but with stopping to help, he was probably quite ahead of me. With my adrenaline still pumping I pedalled hard, going about 26km an hour, and caught him up, relieved to see his relaxed, smiling face – he has stopped to wait for me. I told him what had happened and that i was worried that the girl might stop breathing and no-one would know what to do, maybe I could have done more to help, but it all happened so quickly? We stopped for some food and a drink, before continuing so that I could calm down a little.
As we got closer to Chumpon the roads were straighter and busier and it was like entering a city. At the lights we saw a monkey on the back of a coconut truck, he didn’t look very happy.
As we continued I saw several hospitals and was glad, I knew that the injured couple would be there somewhere, being looked after.
In the hussle and bustle of Chumpon we looked for some accommodation. As we did the heavens opened and we got soaked in under a minute. It sure does rain heavy here! We found accommodation and I was relieved to stop to sleep after such an eventful day!