Posts Tagged ‘thunderstorm’

Gobi – Day 2

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

We woke up late and had a leisurely breakfast – we had a side wind so there was no hurry, it was going to be a slow day. We set off down the hill we’d seen the trucks winding their way up and down. The wind wasn’t too bad but the terrain was hard going with loose sand in places. The road was no longer flat and we seemed to climb up for long periods with some short sharp downhills. After 8km we stopped for some food.

After about 13km the rain clouds started  to gather and the wind increased, across the horizon we could see sand been whipped up into the air forming dust clouds that obscured the land. Even the sheep in the distance were lost. After stopping to let it pass over and a  few games of I spy (including light discussion of the rules – ‘no you can’t ask additional questions for clues, it’s not animal vegetable mineral’), we carried on. There were more black clouds in the distance and more ridges to go over.

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I was struggling a bit with the wind and it was all a bit hard going, I ended up pushing my  bike for a while, then cycling, then pushing. We’d hoped to do 50km today but right now doing 20km would be great. The road turned east and for a short time we enjoyed a slight tailwind and had fun whizzing over bumps and down hills. After 22km we stopped for coffee and a snack. Probably seems that all we do is eat, but the wind saps your energy and leaves you feeling hungry. As we sat there it started to rain and we stuck on some waterproofs. I know I’ve said it before, but I really wasn’t expecting so much rain! It’s the Gobi desert for goodness sake. We’re carrying 30 litres of water because there is no water out here!!

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Finally blue sky appeared and the wind dropped enough for us to cycle. I was hopeful we might be able to get another 20km done before it got dark. Chris said ‘let’s see if we can manage 10km without stopping eh?’ yes, sounds good. We came over a ridge and flying down the other side. Chris was ahead and I saw him pulling over, “What now?”  A puncture! So we stopped yet again.

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Half an hour later, back on the road and it was almost 6pm. The road was nice and quite flat. As we rounded the corner the storm we thought was to the west now appeared to be right ahead of us. Flashes of lightning appeared and the sky was rumbling with thunder. We were high up, we think – everywhere looks like the top of  a fell or moor here – and we felt pretty exposed. Not the best place to be in a thunderstorm. We headed over to the telegraph poles – they would get hit before us, then dumped the bikes and got down into the side of a shallow dried up river bed for shelter.

We sat watching the storm. It seemed very high up but the fork lightning was all across the sky. I felt very small and at the mercy of the elements right then.


As the storm passed right over us, hail began to pelt us, big hailstones the size of marbles came raining down. So much of it, so fast; the ground was covered in seconds. I could feel the ice soaking my socks and running down into my shoes. Chris put our rucksack on my head for extra shelter and I tucked my head into my chest.

After a few minutes it passed and the wind eased up. As I looked up to ask Chris if he was ok, to my right I saw a wave of water coming towards us. ‘”Quick” I yelled pointing to the water, “move!” We both jumped up and got out of the way. The dry river bed was now flooding with water. We stood and watched before realising that we needed to cross to get back to our bikes. We ran 200m ahead of the wave and in front of it to get back to our bikes. By the time we got back and looked at where we had been sat, it was under a foot of water, flooding through at a quick speed.

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But the sun was now shining and the rain and hail had stopped so we couldn’t help but smile. All around us the grass was covered in puddles of water. We were wet and mud splattered, but otherwise fine.

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Realising that we weren’t going to make any progress now, we decided to find a place to camp. With the tarp up and dinner on the go, I changed into some warm clothes and peered out to see that our tent and tarp combo looked like Harry Potter’s tent, with roll mats, stoves, plats cups and all sorts of activity going on. With some hot food inside us we’d be fine and ready for a good night’s sleep.

The forecast for tomorrow is 50kmph wind, so we may stay here for the day, but we’ll wait and see.

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Exploring Sri Phang-nga National park

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Hilleberg Tent CampingHaving made the easy decision to go and explore what was down the road we had now arrived at the entrance to the Sri Phang-nga National Park.  A small barrier was now between us and a 246.08 square meters of rain forest.  We paid our entrance fee and set up camp.  A small fee is also charge for camping.  The park has a small restaurant, camping area and bungalows for those that want a slightly more comfortable experience.  Despite some of theses modern features we were still surrounded by lush trees and the sound of birds, frogs and monkeys from the forest within.  We were the only people staying there, not quite the wilderness I was expecting but the Park had a peaceful feel to it and I felt a sense of belonging here.  From what we could gather the park was quiet during the week and busy at the weekends.  It would have been fascinating to see how the Thai people experience their National Parks and their way of camping.

WaterfallCamp set we had some lunch and then set of to find Tamnang waterfall the biggest of the waterfalls in the area at 63 meters high.  After a few kms of walking we arrived at the impressive feature carved out by years of erosion yet leaving a magical place for animals and humans alike to enjoy.  The pool at the foot of the fall was recommended for swimming, but just before we arrived the heavens had opened and the powerful force of the rain was beating down on us.  It seemed wrong not to swim, I was no longer hot and sweaty but I longed to bath in the pool in front of me.  I stripped down to my underwear and was about to take my first step in the water when I had a change of heart.  The giant swam fish that had made their way up river suddenly seemed rather menacing and they might bite my toes and to top it off, there was a snake lurking at the corner of the pool, probably waiting to bite my bottom.

Fish SwampSnakeI observed nature carefully and after 10 minutes decided it was now or never I slowly lowered myself into the pool and let out a few girly noises for good measure.  To my delight the snake was still waiting for the fish and the fish were not biting my toes.  I was still slightly on edge but as time progressed my confidence grew and I swam to the waterfall to explore and shower beneath the cascade of water.  Liz was not so keen to swim with the fish or the snake so she was busy taking photos and laughing at my silliness in and out the water.

Chris contemplating swimming with fishChrisHeading back to the campsite we were happy and relaxed, the rain was now a cool drizzle and felt wonderful against our usually hot and tanned skin.  We showered and changed into dry clothes and Liz made dinner.  The restaurant was now closed and we had the place to ourselves.  Forests and mountains have always been a place of peace for me.  I am sure that there is something more here than just trees and rocks, the raw spirit of nature, an energy force that keeps giving and quite simply makes me feel good.  We retired to the tent and enjoyed a cool nights sleep thanks to the earlier rain storm.

Chris on Nature TrailLiz on Nature TrailOur carefully chosen camp spot shaded us from the morning sun.  We had rice and chicken for breakfast and set off to explore more of the rainforest.  We had seen pictures of elephants, monkeys and other exciting animals.  Were we going to get to see these?  The thought of meeting an elephant in the wild filled me with excitement and fear at the same time.  Talking with the park staff we soon found out that the elephants were deep in the forest and it was unlikely that we would meet one.  Still as we wondered round the nature trails I contemplated what I would do if an elephant were to appear from behind a tree.

ChameleonIf we had more time we could have taken off into the forest and explored for a few days, for now the nature trails were enough and we explore a couple of the 2-3km trials that followed rivers and wound up the side of the mountains.  We were on a mission to see as many different animals as possible.  To our delight we encountered two interesting animals that accompanied the birds, spiders, leeches and ants that surrounded us.  We have no idea what the first one was but it looked like a giant possum.  It was body was broad and flat like a flying squirrel, a long tail and black fur with a white stripe on its back and crawling down the tree.  We approached slowly feeling like seasoned explorers, but before we could capture our find on film it vanished into the towering trees above.  Excited we walked a little further and stopped still to see if he would come back.  No sound but I felt something in my hair.  Trying to remain calm I moved back slowly there in front of me was a chameleon (Liz thinks, Chris is not so sure – do comment).  He was motionless and rather startled by our presence but was good enough to stay still for a few photos.  We continued on and found ourselves back at the main path.  From here we joined a different more dense and less trodden trail.  We followed the river up looking for the other smaller waterfalls.  We rested by the rocks and small waterfalls dipping our feet in the cool water.

One of our goals on this trip was improve our photography; neither of us had spent much time doing this so we experimented with different camera settings before wondering back to the campsite.

We spent the rest of the day reading and working and went to bed happy but hot.  Neither of us slept well, too hot, but the rain the next morning soon cooled us down.  We waited for the worst of the rain storm to pass and used the time to write and learn some Thai words for food that we like.  We said goodbye to the park and the staff and set back to the main road that would take us north gain.

The last few days have reminded me that we are here to explore as well as cycle. I often feel guilty for stopping and staying somewhere a day extra, thinking there is kms to be cycled.  But there is a balance and despite 10 months on the road I am still finding that balance.

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Funny English couple on bicycles (2/4/10)

Friday, April 9th, 2010

After a hot day of cycling we found ourselves in a massive wet thunderstorm. The rain came down and we both let ourselves get drenched in lovely cool water. It was sooooo nice to be cool. We’d cycled 98km and with the rain still going and the light starting to fade we stopped to camp. We turned off the highway down a little side alley, in the hope that we might find a spot to put the tent, however we found ourselves in a village. We asked the ladies if there was anywhere we could out our tent for the night, after showing them a photo of a tent they understood. I think the concept of camping is very alien to them (well the way we do it anyway) so even though we can say the correct words in Indonesian they still don’t get it without a picture. Plus we are European and maybe they expect that we would only stay in a hotel.

Well one lady said that we could camp next to her house, in the garden and took us there. We explained what we were doing and had a brief conversation about money and the fact that we are on a tight budget. They said we could camp for free. Then a few more people appeared and after a brief chat they all seemed to think that we should sleep inside – it was raining and too cold outside they said. We went inside and before we knew it half the village turned up, wanting to see who the people on bikes were. I was ushered off to have a shower and Chris set about cooking some food for us. I came back to find Chris with an audience of about 30+ people watching him cook rice and vegetables. It was like live Masterchef, better than TV said one of the men! All the children were sat cross legged on the floor watching his every move. It was very funny because the rice took ages to cook and Chris kept trying it and then putting it back on the stove. Rice is eaten everyday here, at most meals, so they were watching with interest. One lady seemed to be saying telling Chris how to cook it, Chris replied wittily ‘Ah Rice Ingriss’ -  English Rice and she seemed happy with that.

Nobody spoke much english and we had a handful of phrases that we had learnt, but we managed to communicate well. We said the words Terima kasih and bagus a lot (thank you and good) which they found highly amusing, to the point of giving Chris the nickname of Terima kasih!

The family and their community made us so welcome, we felt like guests of honour. Someone appeared with some mineral water for us and then tea and coffee. They gave us pillows, towels and flip flops (our shoes were soaked)! After we had eaten we got everyone together for a photo, they were very excited about this and afterwards i went round with the camera showing all the children and older ladies the photo, zooming in so they could see themselves – they were pleased as punch. Funny thing is none of them look very happy in the photo – so serious, but they were a very friendly, jolly bunch… so you’ll just have to take my word for it :)

Bangil village

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