Return Journey – Day 1 – near Thai Mueng to Khao Sok – 100km in 5,5hrs

The wedding had been close to Khok Kloi in the Phang-nga province at the Aleenta Resort. After a marathon 11 hour drinking session I passed out at the Villa where the wedding was held. I slept in a bunk bed with Frank and Andy, Franks words before bed, you shout up and if you wank, wank quietly, gotto love the Kiwis, straight up!

I woke up at 6:30am (approximate pass out time was 3:30am), then I dragged myself out of bed And got on my bicycle to ride 10km down the road to resort I was staying at. I felt awesomely KAK! Still drunk when I got back to my hotel at about 7:15am, I decided to sleep till 9am and grab breakfast.

Around 10am I was on the road heading towards Khao Sok Notional Park. The way I felt made the ride so much more difficult, the temperature was about 40 degrees Celsius. I sweated out the alcohol fairly quickly and found my rhythm after about 1,5-2hrs. The only way to deal with my stupidty was to embrace the ride and cycle through the discomfort, a lesson that I have only learnt through this cycle trip.

I arrived in Khao Sok area after 5,5 hours of riding. The last stretch was about 8km of climbing uphill in peak temperature and no wind or air movement. I think I set a record for sweating, I consumed about 9 liters of water during my ride.

As I rode into Khao Sok are I noticed it was way more touristic than I expected. I stopped in atnumerous resorts as I cycled down the road into Khao Sok. Eventually I found a resort called Morning Mist that was recommended to me by the Lonely Planet. Personally I feel they need to update the lonely planet with a revised entry to warn against how shit this place’s rooms are. I took a single room for 450baht, it was pretty insecure, bed was hard and generally KAK!

After checking in and taking shower, I decided to go see what what Khao Sok had to offer. I found that it was extremely touristic and generally not what I had expected at all. When I stayed at Manora Garden Resort next to SA Nang National Park I rad a book on the history of the park and how amazing the plant / life was. I didn’t get the sense of this when I was there, the only way I would truly see this side of the park would be to go on a remote multi-day trek that would cost a fair bit of dosh and had to be done with a group of people.

I went for a walk to see what was around, one place that had grabbed me was the Jungle Huts, unfortunately they were fully booked when I was tried, so I just went to grab a beer. While sitting I met Paris from Menorka, epic Spanish dude, we ended up sitting and chatting for ages. Funny how certain types of people are just friendly open and interesting right from the word go, I love meeting new people and this made my day.

After meeting Paris, I headed off back to my room and stopped for a quick dinner along the way. Was good to get a solid dinner and a fairly early evening, SLEEP IS GOOD!

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Pierre and Lisa’s Thailand Wedding Weekend

On the Thursday 7 March wage wedding group all joined up for a special group dinner. Afterwards excessive drinking and eating the guys headed out for the bachelor party. I bailed at 3am as I realised I needed to get up at 7am to pack….

7am rolled on and I was not feeling lekker, was still drunk in fact, dragged myself out of bed around 7:30am and started the slow process of packing my trailer for the ride up to where the wedding would held. I aimed to arrive at the wedding venue approximately the same time as the wedding crew. So I left at 9am and managed to maintain a steady 20km / hr average. I had 80km to ride from Karon Beach to Aleenta Resort near Khok Kloi just over the Phuket bridge.

I felt pretty dreadful for the first 40km and 2hrs, but managed to sober up, just sweated put the booze. Not awesome, but I refused to catch a taxi, my mission was to ride my bike everywhere possible. I arrived at Aleenta Resort before the wedding party because the busses had been delayed by 1,5hrs.

I managed to find an open wifi network and decided to chill in the shade waiting for them while I caught up on work emails. Not sure how I do it sometimes, work, play and sport… I are one mad cat! Everyone else was amazed that I had ridden to next location after the night we had. Thank god I didn’t stay till the end of the bachelors, I would have rolled in around 5am or later and a lot more drunk.

Once I had seen everyone from the wedding party, I moved on to my resort that was 10km up the road from where the wedding was taking place. I arrived at Waterjade Resort where I was staying, checked in and unpacked. A few of wedding party peeps were guests at Waterjade, so after everyone had settled into our respective rooms we decided to meet up at the resort’s restaurant for food and drinks.

The group of wedding people I met during the week at Karon beach were awesome, we had spent time together every day and slowly but surely formed connections. I could tell everyone sitting at the table was getting excited about the wedding, the build up was amazing. I munched my food, drank a beer and we chatted for a while. After dinner I decided to to head back to my room and get an early night, by early I mean 8pm.

The wedding day had arrived, it was 9 march around 7am and I was wide awake after 11hrs sleep. Feeling considerably fresher than the previous morning, breakfast was included at Waterjade, so I decided to take full advantage. Seeing the wedding only stated at 5:30pm, I decided to head out for a training ride. I headed off to Khao Lak, I knew that I would not get to see it after the wedding, so it was perfect opportunity. Carpe Diem, seize the moment and so I did.

It was approximately 40km ride to Khao Lak Lam Ru National Park, before I went to the park I road along the Khao Lak beach, very pretty beach. Then I paid entrance of 100baht for the Park and went for a wander. There wasnt much to see, but it was beautiful.

I took a walk down the one trail to what the sign said was “footprint”. The shoreline is made up of granite rock, which is not too common in my experience of Thailand. I found what was called the footprint, it was indeed a footprint in the granite rock. The footprint look like a human footprint in cement, quite intriguing. The sign stated a phrase that I have tattooed on my leg “leave only footprints, take only memories”, this is a philosophy that the national parks are trying to encourage, leave no trace.

After visiting the national park, I decided to head off back to my resort and take a nap befor heading off to the wedding festivities. I showered, packed a bag and prepped for the wedding. The plan was to catch a taxii, but nobody was around and I decided to just ride my bike to the wedding.

I arrived at the wedding venue called Villa Satis around 4pm, this was a separate Villa to the Aleenta Resort, so the wedding was a private affair. What a beautiful villa on the beach, massive pool and a bunch of rooms with a huge downstairs open plan area. The scene was set for an awesome wedding experience.

I showered again and put on the suit that I had tailored in Karon. Everybody started arriving around 5pm and the wedding was to kick off at 5:30pm. The best man and ring bearer waited patiently, then Lisa and her brides maids came out looking beautiful. The wedding was small and intimate. The ceremony kicked off, Pierre said his vows, I read out a song verse by Jack Johnson and Lisa said her vows. Once the ceremony was over the newly weds signed the wedding register and it was official.

Let the festivities begin and we all started drinking religiously. Actually I had started drinking a couple of hours before the wedding. All the guest were happy, not only because of the amazing wedding, but everyone was on holiday. What a great idea to have a small intimate wedding in a beautiful beach paradise. Happy days.

Dinner kicked off, I didn’t realise we kicked off with starters, I actually pigged out on starters so excessively that I didn’t even get to main course. The MC Kim said some introductory words after dinner, then came the speeches. First it was Pierre’s sister, she said some heart warming words and shed some emotional tears. Next up it was Pierre’s dad and then Pierre said some words. Andy, Lisa’s dad, said some words too and lastly there were some thank you’s to people who could attend as well as people who did attend. All in all, lovely moving experience.

The drinking continued well into the night, I did however realise that I needed to head off on my bike at night to my accommodation… Then somebody said that there was a bunk bed available at the villa. Perfect, that meant I didn’t have to worry and so I continued to drink. People started getting into the pool or being thrown into the pool.

Eventually around 3:30am I decided to give it a rest and hit the hay or bunk bed. Woooowhaooo, drunken and disorderly, just the way a wedding should be. I knew I had to wake up fairly early so I could ride back to my resort. I set my alarm for 6:30am… Waking up at 6:30am after drinking for about 11hrs isn’t very much fun, but sometimes you gotto do what you gotto do.

I rode back in the day light at least. When I got to my room it was about 7:20am, so I napped till about 9am. Breakfast was included, so I made full use of the opportunity seeing I had to ride 100km to Khao Sok. After breakfast I checked out of Waterjade and hit the road. So ended one chapter and another began.

5 days on Karon Beach, Phuket

Day 1 – Sunday 3rd March – Pierre’s Birthday Dinner

I arrived in Karon Beach in the afternoon of Sunday 3rd March. My ride into Phuket had been a shock to the system, my peaceful world of riding solo down from Hua Hin had changed to what initially felt like a tourist nightmare with way more people than I could handle.

I arrived at Mellow Space Boutique Rooms around 2pm, it took me a while to find the place, I would be staying there for the next 5 days. I was really impressed with the accommodation, my room was big and the bathroom was great. I had aircon and hot water.

Once I had unpacked and showered I rested my sore and tired body for the afternoon. The plan was that everyone that had arrived in Karon was going to meet for dinner to celebrate Pierre’s birthday. I took a walk down to the beach and walked across the beach on my way to the Pacific Club Hotel where the others were staying.

We went to a fairly upmarket restaurant for some pizza and beers. Pizza is not a dish I would normally have in Thailand, I find it is never as good as Borussos Italian restaurant back home.

I have been alone for 6 days straight, cycling in my own little world, arriving on Phuket island was quite an exciting prospect. Seeing my friends who I had not seen in many years was quite something indeed.

Pierre Vocat was marrying Lisa Kesson in 6 days day. As mentioned, this was his birthday dinner. I walked into the restaurant to find Pierre’s mom and dad who I had not seen since 1996. I am connected to Gail Vocat (mom) on facebook, we speak fairly often over private message or wall posts, more than I speak to Pierre that is.

I am also connected to Pierre’s sister Samantha Vocat, we figured out that the last time we saw each other was at her farewell party in 1996, almost 17 years ago. So much happens in that time. Samantha and I sat next to each other at dinner and caught up on the past 17 years. I told her that we I used to visit her brother, her and her friends would always avoid us like the plague. She told me we were uncool… Anyone friends with her brother was to be avoided, we had a laugh about this. Was great to catch up.

At the same dinner I was introduced to Lisa’s dad Andy and two of his very old friends Ron and Frank. These guys were great fun, great sense of humour and I could see already now that we would hit it off that week.

When I think back about the dinner, the phrase “eat, drink and be merry” comes to mind. The pizzas kept coming, strange flavour after another, I am not a fan of seafood pizza, but this restaurant seemed to that seafood flavours on pizza were awesome. I was starving, so I plugged that pizza in my cake hole irrespective of whether I liked it or not. Along with the pizza I drank Chang after Chang, it was Chang O’clock after all.

Once the dinner was over, the older crew went back to their respective hotels, fair enough considering most people were still jetlagged. The younger crew however decided to hit a bar, I suggested 7eleven and beach boozing, but nobody was keen. They didn’t even get far, there was a very expensive bar next door, so people wandered in there.

Beers were over priced and they only served smalls beers, tequilas were stupidly over priced and they consisted of petrol with vague tequila flavouring. The guys started buying rounds of tequila, so that was great, we drank more and more.

Pierre and I spotted a strange character watching the live cover band, this guy got up and started doing the strangest slow motion jiggy jig I have ever seen. I decided to buy Pierre and another school mate of ours Wayne Sterling a tequila shooter. Like the children we are, I got Pierre to go up to the strange slow motion dancer guy and chat to him while I recorded his jiggy jig. Kak funny.

We went and sat down again, next thing the best man Leon comes up to me and has a stern word with me about buying Pierre 1 tequila shot. He tuned. He some shit about not getting Pierre too drunk because of Lisa his fiance… Wtf, he had bought Pierre a shot earlier and now I am the bad friend getting Pierre drunk. I was not impressed, told him we all on holiday and if Pierre didn’t want the shit he could tell me himself. Come on, I hadn’t seen the guy in years and years, now I am being singled out.

I got up and left the bar, I didn’t want to get into an argument. Uncomfortable way to end the evening.

Day 2 – Monday 4th March – Phi-Phi

The Monday was the first full day with the wedding party. I was told that I would be picked up at 7am by a taxi that would drive us to the pier so that we could do boat trip to Phi Phi islands.

The taxi arrived with some of the older people I had met at the previous night’s. Leon was also in the taxi, I simply ignored him, I wasn’t keen to discuss the night before. The taxi took us across Phuket island to a pier quite far away.

When we got off the taxi Pierre, Lisa and bunch of the others were waiting for us. We boarded what looked like a ferry0p

The evening after the boat trip we were due to meet up at the Pacific Club Hotel where mop

Day 3 – Tuesday 5th March – Paradise Beach

I woke up feeling rough from the litre bottle of Blend that we smashed the night before. Despite feeling tender I woke up at about 7am, my body clock seems programmed to this. My first instinct was to pick up my iPad and Galaxy III phone to do work, I got stuck into work for a good couple of hours.

We were doing a beach day at Paradise beach, which was between Karon and Pa Tong. I had no idea what time we were meeting because nothing had been agreed the night before. While I was working I sent messages to Pierre and his mom (Gail) too, his mom was the person who ended up telling what was happening when most of the time.

I got a Facebook message from Gail saying we were leaving around 11am from near their hotel. It was 10:15am and I hadn’t showered or packed a bag yet. I had to walk 30min to their hotel, so mild panic as I showered, packed and ran out the door. I forgot my sunshades and had to buy some along the way as I ran all the way to the hotel. I even managed to hit 7eleven and grab some staples = ham & cheese sarmie, red bull, water and nuts.

I arrived maybe 4 minutes late, but that was fine because everyone else was late.

Day 4 – Wednesday 6th March – James Bond Islands

To be added soon.

Day 5 – Thursday 7th March – Free day, Pre-Wedding dinner and Bachelors

To be added soon.

Day 6 – near Mueng Phangnga to Karon Beach – 110km in 5hrs

I woke around 6am at the beautiful Manora Garden resort, the owners of the resort made me breakfast. I settled my bill and for two meals, a Chang and my room it was only 600baht. I felt like I got so much more value than just this “stuff”, what lovely people! On my way out they snapped a few pictures of me so they could tell their other guests in future about the crazy cyclist guy who had stayed over.

I headed off on highway 4 past the main town called Mueng Phangnga. I was on mission to get to the end point because my ass was raw and I had been on the road for 6 days and nearly 850km (by the end of day 6). I pushed hard and rode at a solid 22,5 km per hour including stops.

Finally i got to the Phuket bridge, this was a really awesome achievement, but it still meant I had about 60km to travel to Karon beach. Phuket wasn’t much of an island, it was like the mainland it was so big. Phuket felt so much more busy than what I was used to, there was traffic everywhere, scary as hell at times.

I kept seeing signs for Phuket town, Pa Tong, Karon beach, but it didn’t feel like I was getting any closer.

Day 5 – Ao Luek to Manora Garden Near the Sa Nang Manora Forest Park – 55km in 4,5 hrs

Started out at the resort in Ao Luek later than usual. Decided to take the day super chilled, not ride fast and take in the scenery as much as possible. My first stop was to be a small noodle soup stand next to the road. I had not ordered any noodle soup yet this holiday and the last time in Thailand I had fallen in love with the meal. The meal cost me all of 35 baht which is about R10 in my own currency, it was delicious. Such a simple dish, the Thai lady put the ingredients in a kind of metal spoon like a colander and held it in the boiling broth for a few moments

Then I headed down to Than Bok national park to see what it was about, but it wasn’t feasible for me to leave my bike alone and go walking in the park, so I skipped and got back on the road. The road slowly meandered through the lime stone karsts until I saw a mountain range in the distance, I thought to myself “this road will definitely go around the mountains”. I could not have been more wrong.

At first there were only slight inclines, but then the hills started getting steeper. Before I hit full blown mountains, I found a small Buddhist temple built into the lime stone cliffs. I stopped for a rest and to admire the beauty. As I was leaving, a troop of macaque monkeys decided to see me off, I had about 5 males running at me from different sides with their teeth showing, I kakked myself!

After the monkey incident I hit some prett hefty climbs, it took me about an hour to finish climbing, I think I only covered about 10km during this time. Rough ride, sheesh. At the top of the of the climb I found a temple. I stopped for water, red bull and coke. I decided to give an offering and ask Buddha for safe passage on my journey. It was quite an emotional experience, lovely to feel that kind of emotion. I headed down the other side of the mountain, which was way more fun riding downhill with cool wind than that riding up in 40 degree temperature and no wind.

I wanted to visit the Sa Nang Manora Forest Park and saw the sign for the park, so i decided to check out the place. Before i got to the park I saw a sign for Manora Garden Resort, I decided to test it out and booked in. The owners were a Dutch guy and his Thai wife. After I got access to my room, I took a shower and pack a bag for the Forest Park.

I went to the forest park for a relaxing walk. I didn’t see any animals, but it was good to be off my bike while doing an activity. On my way back down the walking trail I went for swim in the river pools. At the end of my walk I grabbed a bite to eat at the food place next to the parking lot and had a Chang Beer.

When i got back to the resort I put up my hammock and did some relaxing reading. At one stage I fell asleep in hammock, tough life. I was the only guest at the resort, so it was a pretty relaxed atmosphere. I was having dinner with the owners, the plan was that we would have Som Tom, which is a green papaya spicy salad.

After we had eaten I sat chatting to the Dutch guy for about an hour and a half. It was super relaxing, he was a very interesting man. We chatted about sport, politics and the meaning of life, fascinating to hear other people’s point of view and their life experiences. After our lengthy discussion I decided to hit the sack fairly early so that I could get a solid 10 hours sleep in.

Day 4 – Chaiya to Ao Luek = 155km in 8hrs 30min

Started out in Chaiya with some cold fried rice as my breakfast fuel around 6:30pm for the morning’s cycling. My initial goal had been to rid down to Nakhon Si Thammarat, but I was having second thoughts due to my saddle sores having blistered and popped.

I decided to reroute towards Khao Sok, I was planning on going there after the wedding weekend, but I thought lets try this out. Enroute to Khao Sok I somehow missed a vital turn off, next thing I saw a sign saying turn off to Krabi. Small crisis, I was now 25km past the Khao Sok turn off, do I turn back or do I reroute again. I decided to reroute.

I took highway 44 across country for the Gulf of Thailand coast to the Andaman coast, more specifically the Phangnga province. I had no idea where exactly I would end up, but I had rough idea of options thanks to having 3G on my phone, the lonely planet book and my Garmin. It was damn hot, slowly the heat rose by about 0,1 degrees every 5min, it topped out at 43 degrees, the only way to deal with this was to ride faster and have the wind / air cool me down.

After a few stops and careful calculations i settled on the town of Ao Luek as the place I would stay that night. As I drew closer to Ao Luek I started seeing incredible lime stone karst rocks towering around me, a thing of beauty I tell you.

I had applied sun block once that day, due to the heat I had been sweating constantly and realised that I had very red arms, not a good thing, so even though it was a bit too late I decided to apply some more sunblock because I could be in the sun for another hour. Always fear the power of the sun is what my scottish wife taught me.

I was really starting to feel tired from the day’s riding and my ass was chaffed raw. I decided that the first semi decent resort that I found I would book into. As I came to what seemed like the town of Ao Luek if found a resort below a massive towering lime stone karst outcrop.

I can’t remember the name of he resort, but I can say I was very pleased with the 450baht room that I booked into. They didn’t have any facilities other than rooms, so I was told I could walk into town for dinner. I actually thought I was in the town, but I was very wrong, later when I walked into town to grab dinner I had to walk a few kilometres.

I found a 7eleven and a food market, bought some beer and food, what more could you need! I decided to hang around for a bit longer and find out what was happening. It was Friday night and I figured there had to be something happening. I was right, there was a local place with Thai music, I grabbed a few too many beers and then decided it was time to walk back to my bungalow.

In my drunken state I managed to walk down the wrong road, I just kept going, my keen spidey sense told me it would eventually work out. After about 45min of walking I eventually got back to my room, I quickly crashed and burned!

Day 3 – Ban Hat Sari to Chaiya = 180km and 10hrs 30min

Woke up at 6am, but wasn’t happy about that, hugged the pillow for another 30min. Finally got the courage up to get out of bed and mount my steed… I road out of Hat Sari beach and decided to try a route other than the GPS, for once the GPS was right and I rode an extra phat section of distance… Then I realised that where I stayed caused me to ride an extra 30km of “unneeded roads”, it wasn’t an issue, I was on holiday and training!

Somewhere along highway 41 I decided I could take this anymore and needed get of the highway. It was fairly intimidating riding down such a busy highway with scooters regularly come up the wrong way at you. Once I got of the highway I realised something wasn’t right with my trailer… Then it hit me, the trailer had a flat, the nearest town was Tha Chana about 10km away and I had no puncture repair kit.

I pulled off the road into the front part of a small shop to repair my trailer wheel puncture. next thing there were a bunch of local people who offered assistance. One guy spoke broken Engrish, which was better than nothing, between my broken Thai and his few words of Engrish, we fixed the issue. I managed to pour sealant into the tube through the valve core. The puncture stopped leaking air and I was able to continue.

After my repair crisis, I had very little time to get to Chaiya where I had planned to stay that night, so I needed to up the pace and time trial to get to end point before dark. I eventually reached Chaiya, but it was particularly tourist friendly in that it had almost no accommodation. I rode around looking, but found nothing, eventually I went to the police station to ask for help and they pointed me in the direction of the hotel. I eventually found the hotel, it was much to look at, but for 250baht a night who can complain.

I checked in, went up to my room and took a shower. The room was clean, the bed comfortable and generally it was a pretty good deal. My trailer tire was still loosing air, so I did a bit of a MacGyver and added some more sealant to the tube. Then I went up to the petrol station to find an air compressor to pump the wheel. Unfortunately I had managed to block the valve core, so I need high pressure to blow it clean.

I got back to the hotel after fixing my wheel, i was feeling pretty chuffed with myself, but now it was getting late and I had still not had dinner. There was a young couple, the guy from Sweden and the woman from France, downstairs at the hotel, so I introduced myself and asked if they wanted to go out for dinner.

We found a local place, grabbed then some food and drinks. While waiting for our dinner we swapped traveller stories, this is the part of travelling I love, hearing other people’s stories. Eventually we left the restaurant, I was however still hungry, so I suggested 7eleven. They were not familiar with the plentiful bounties that 7eleven has to offer in Thailand. Bed time came quickly after food, I was knackered after a tough day of riding.