The Friendly Way
We had arranged for breakfast at 7:30 and were up and pretty well packed by then. We were very much looking forward to a decent breakfast and were not disappointed. There was a massive tray of fried rice, 8 fried eggs, a platter of cucumber and another of papaya. We made the most of it - Jonno demolishing three plates of fried rice on the basis that he was making up for our lack of decent food the day before. I was a bit disappointed to arrive at breakfast and see nescafe on offer but was soon offered fresh coffee which I happily accepted. It was so strong that one cup was all we needed for the day! Georgia returned from breakfast with four bananas, and soon after the lovely lady running the hotel provided us with another bunch which we thought we would appreciate later.
Our start was delayed as Jonno discovered a puncture. That gave Georgia the opportunity to complete her playlist download to my phone. We are going to swap so that we can track where she is if she goes on ahead. She arrived a few minutes after us yesterday, having found an alternative route that she claimed had a better surface.
Our delay also gave us time for a few photos and then we were on our way, enjoying the flat, tarmacked surface. Though we had 59kms to cover to Tha Ton, the route was planned to be mostly flat and easy riding. It was cool and overcast and for a while we were wishing we had kept our jumpers on.
After about 5kms we reached the highway. It was fairly quiet and we moved quickly, stopping briefly at a petrol station for a toilet break. We turned off the highway and the road in front of us was closed to traffic. We dismounted and made our way around the barrier. The road was full of people sitting at small tables. There were lots of hellos, smiles and waves. We seemed to generate lots of interest. Everyone was happy to smile for a photo.
Back on the bikes we continued along small suburban roads, passing two other meeting groups though neither blocked the road. People smiled and waved as we passed. Everyone seemed very friendly.
The route Simon had mapped out included a dirt road which was more like a track so we gave that a miss and wondered if Jonno had done the same (he avoided it as well). We found him soon after at the side of the road with another puncture. There were two men working on a house nearby and they were keen for me to take a photo of them.
Simon decided that it was best to replace the tyre in case it was causing the punctures. We travel with two spare tyres - one that fits my bike and Jonno's and the other for Simon/Georgia's bikes. Soon we had help as a man stopped on his bicycle. He had a few tools in his front basket and was keen to provide assistance. Before long the wheel was back on the bike and we were ready to move on, with much thanks to our friendly helper. We continued on with more people waving hello, including a bunch of school kids who lined up against the fence to shout "hello" as we passed.
The route continued through little towns but we found only one coffee shop and it wasn't open - not that I really needed a coffee, it was more of an excuse to stop. Jonno found a nice area, full of benches so presumably used as some kind of meeting place. We stopped for a snack of pineapple, biscuits and lots of bananas. The pineapple was now two days old so we were pleased that it had survived so long.
Soon after we found a nice looking restaurant in one of the little villages. Best of all it had some photos so we could point to what we wanted for lunch. Simon went with chicken pad thai whilst the rest of us opted for chicken Tom Yum soup. It was absolutely delicious! It came with rice which was perfect for hungry cyclists. As we had cycled into town we had been trailed by a vehicle with a group of people in it, making announcements and playing loud music. Turned out this was a politician's vehicle and he came and sat with us. He told us about his daughter who was working in computing in New Zealand and warned us to be careful of the water. He also said that he had elections in March and that Thailand had a military government which he didn't like. He then left to rejoin his group whilst we ate our lunch.
It was another 12 kms to Tha Ton and it was easy riding. The town was small and our accommodation was on the far side up a steep hill - too steep to cycle up, though Jonno managed to. I had booked a family room and it was lovely. Two big separate rooms and a big verandah overlooking a garden and pond. Perfect for a relaxing afternoon. We did some washing and showered then took advantage of the beautiful location to drink tea, whilst the kids complained about the wifi not working and having to set up hotspots on the phones (which apparently drain the battery faster than they can charge it). So with almost flat phones, it was time for dinner.
We had planned to eat at the hotel restaurant which was open till 8pm according to the sign in our room. However, there were no lights on at 6:40pm so we had to assume it wasn't open. It is only a small place with a few bungalows and we didn't advise them that we would be eating here when we arrived. So we headed down the steep driveway towards the town. After a few minutes we spotted some lights and a Chang Beer sign. Turned out that it was a little restaurant that did a clay hotpot buffet for 99 baht per person. There were trays of meats, fish, greens, offal and other delights set out on a table. We decided to give it a go, having tried Korean and Chinese hotpot. We tried most things (except the tripe, kidneys and liver), cooking up pork balls, crab sticks, pork, chicken and lots and lots of greens. We added white vermicilli and green noodles to the tasty broth which (unlike Chinese hotpot) was not spicy at all. Georgia found some chilli sauces for the table to add the necessary spices. It all tasted really good and we had many servings and much fun cooking it all up.