Day 4: Uttaradit to Sukhothai 90km

The fourth day was a little easier than day 2 and 3. We would only be riding 90km for the day.

Our first stop was still inside Uttaradit city realm at a Buddhist temple. I made an offering to Buddha and said my prayers. Woody the one guide explained interesting facts about giving offerings and helped me understand what the customs were. I felt really moved by this experience and actually quite emotional. The Buddhist people have lovely beliefs, warms my heart.

We started riding again, but stopped shortly afterwards for animals pictures, group photos and more interesting facts from Woody about the Thai farming techniques in the rice paddies. 1hour into the ride we had done about 10km of that, but it was fascinating.

We finally got onto some open road and Woody was with me this time. I asked him if I could open up and start pushing the speed a bit. He said yeah sure and he would ride with me. Note that Woody had been a pro cyclist in his day, now 46 years old. We were cruising on flat stretch for about 15km at about 40km per hour for majority of the time. RAD!

We had a pit stop for refueling. My body was feeling the previous two days and it felt like food wasn’t touching sides. We got going again, we were in pretty rural area and I stuck with Woody because he kept explaining what everything was, just so interesting to learn about Thai culture in the way we were.

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful. Everyone was pretty tired, self included. We were headed towards Sukhothai new city for 2 days / nights. Everyone was looking forwarding to this. Svenning and I we’re a bit bored with the pace, so we worked together to push up the pace. The last stretch of road we kept at least 35km per hour for about 20+ km.

We arrived at the hotel and it was gorgeous. Everyone was hungry, so before checking in to the hotel we headed out to a little restaurant for Sukhothai style noodle soup and pad thai. Yummy food, but we all wanted to get back to the hotel and swim.

I booked a Thai massage before dinner, the woman was pretty good, but Thai massage is not an easy massage, pretty rough and my muscles were tender. We headed off to dinner in the town at about 7:30pm. The dinner was not the best, we all agreed the food was odd. We had chicken with skin, pork with bone, catfish and other strange things.

After dinner was finished I asked about a market in the town I thought it might be nice to get out and see the local market at night. I went on my own. I walked and walked and walked, but saw no market. I went into a 7eleven to buy a beer for the walk. Mmmmmm, starting to get drunk.

While trying to find the market I bumped into the only westerners I had seen in a few days other than the group. The 3 guys I met randomly were from Melbourne, Australia. I asked them what they’re were up to and they said heading to a bar. I joined them and we chatted on the walk. They arrived at the bar and decided to order a bottle of whiskey, not a glass. We proceeding to smashed the bottle of whiskey in 30min flat.

We sat around chatting about where we were from, what we did, the usual getting to know each other stuff. I realized I had to get up early, it was getting late and I was feeling pretty darn drunk. I made a hasty exit and walked home. On the way home I found a street ice cream stall at the market I couldn’t find before, bought myself three scoops of ice cream on a cone, yummy.

I got back around midnight I think, don’t really remember the last part of the walk. Good times!

image

image

Advertisements

Day 3: Lampang to Uttaradit 145km

This day was dubbed the hardest day of the tour. We had to complete 145km and 4 big climbs. Most of the cyclists were feeling anxious about the long day ahead, but I was ready for it.

We left Lampang at approximately 7:45am. Shortly after leaving the town of Lampang stopped off at a ceramics factory to look at some of their wares. The area is specifically known for its ceramics. We went into the factory, we got to look at how they make products and see everything from the raw ceramic product to the finished fired painted product. Next we went to their show room to purchase some little ceramic figures. I bought some gifts for myself, friends, family and my wife, the total was 400 baht about R100 for 8 pieces.

The route we were on was breathtaking, we were riding through farming areas with all sorts of different crops. I stopped regularly to snap random shots of whatever caught my attention. Despite having ridden hard on day 2 I was feeling super strong, looking forward to the hills.

Hill number one was called Ban Mai, before we got stuck in we had a food and drink break. Mr Tee and I went head to head and pushed it up the climb. Nobody rode with us, the nearest rider was Svenning. We stuck together up the climb and finished together, I knew we had another 3 climbs after this one. The downhill was mad fun, not sure what happened to Mr Tee, think he waited for the group to make sure everyone ok. I was pushing up to about 70+ km per hour I think, hard to say without a monitor. I recorded most of the downhill with my GoPro HD camera.

Once I got to the bottom I eased off as I didn’t want to get too far ahead. I started snapping pics of all the different crops, every half km was another amazing photo opportunity. I eventually saw a cyclist in the distance and it was Svenning. We joined forces and worked our way up the the second climb.

I taught Svenning a trick I had learnt ages back. I never ride a hill in a big gear because I am not strong, instead I drop to a low gear where I spin. Every so often I drop a few gears and get out of the saddle standing for about 50-100m to break the spinning. This method worked wonders for me and he started getting the hang of it.

We were alone peddling away, so we continued having a phat rap about all sorts. It’s sounded like this guy Svenning was pretty damn hard core, he was mainly a paddler and loved his kayaking. Fascinating listening to passionate people.

After 2nd climb we had another food and drink break before the 3rd climb started. The 3rd climb was set to be a mutha-fucka. I decided to go it alone and push as hard as possible. The temperature was really heating up, my head was boiling, but I gunned it hard up that climb. Feeling like a champion! The downhill was good fun too, again I recorded it on my GoPro.

On the other side of the 3rd climb we reached an area that was well known for furniture making. I was way ahead of the rest so made some stops at some local furniture places, amazing products, but way too big to ship home.

Our lunch stop was next to one of the largest reclining Buddhas in Thailand. Lunch comprised of a spicy noodle salad and noodle soup. After eating we all headed across the road to see the buddha. I have honestly never seen such a big Buddha. Easily could have been longer than 100m maybe even 200m, hard to get perspective of something that big. Beautiful temple, snapped pics and headed back on the road.

Next we had a ride through the country side heading towards our last climb of the day. We pushed hard, but is time it was Mr Tee, Svenning and myself working together. The climb was not massive, but it was still enough uphill to make it a challenge. I paced most of the way, but made sure we didn’t loose Svenning. He hang on like a trooper, 62 year old rock star if you ask me. We stopped for snacks and drinks at top of hill 4. The downhill was awesomeness, recorded it and made sure I was careful because there was a lot of road works, sand and fairly dangerous obstacles.

Waited for Mr Tee and Svenning once things flattened out a bit. We had about 40-45km to go, I sat on the front and pushed speeds of between 40-50km per hour as we had a slight downhill. I broke Mr Tee, he told me to ease off. We finished 25km in no time flat and waited for the rest at a petrol station.

The last stretch we eased off and rode as a group. We arrived at our next hotel in a Uttaradit around 6:30pm in partial dark. Long day in the saddle, the group was broken, amazingly Svenning and I still felt great, but tired as we had ridden hard.

Dinner was at 7:30pm at the hotel.

image

After the hotel I went out to see the town. Nothing to see though, no tourists in site. I figured let’s get a massage, but couldn’t find a massage place. Eventually after walking for ages I found a place that had massage on the sign. Strange place, crap massage, little disappointed and headed home to go to sleep before midnight.

Kati Culinary Thai Cooking School

Yesterday we went to a Thai cooking class from about 10:30am until 3:30pm. Its something we have always wanted to do in Thailand but to  date we have not had the opportunity.

We got picked up at Warapura Resort by the cooking school. When we arrived we were offered a capacino! Our first decent coffee in Thailand, what a blessing. Coffee is one thing that I avoid in Thailand as most places make pots of coffee with instant Nescafe, not filter coffee. So far so good!

There was a Swedish lady who joined us named Maria. After introductions were done and our cooking instructor Nong gave us an overview of the day we choose our main course dishes. The day comprised of making sauces, a starter, two main course dishes and a dessert.

We only got to make one starter as a group, we choose spring rolls. Barbara choose to make a green curry and pad thai. I choose to make som tum and chicken cashew nuts.  The desert we made was a banana spring roll with cinnamon sprinkled over it for flavour and honey to dip.

We started off with making sauces for the spring rolls (Nam Jin Gai) and for pad thai. Whie making the sauces a French woman called Helena joined us. So we end up being 4 people on the course meaning that we would make 8 main course dishes.

We moved on to making the vegetable and glass noodle mis for the sping rolls. Once we were done with the mix we starterow rapping the banana spring rolls and then the vegetable spring rolls. We deep friend the spring rolls in palm oil on a wok. once were done we were ready to eat. Delicious snack and I must have eaten about 5 or 6 spring rolls.

After the spring roll exercise we moved on to making the penang and green curry pastes. Hard work preparing the chilli paste, chopping the ingredients and then crushing them into a paste in a granite morter and pestle. Things were shaping up and we were loving the smells, learning about all the ingredients and how they work together.

We chopped and prepared the ingredients for the 8 main course dishes. Then we got stucK into making the main course dishes. First up wcookies the Penang and Green curries. The we moved on to the other dishes.

Once we finished with the cooking we sat down tsuper read of food that we all marveled at. Now the problem we faced was how to eat all the food. I got stuck into as many dishes as possible. Eventually we all gave up trying to eat more. The last stretch was eating the banana spring roll desert! I didn’t know how I could fit anymore food in, but I did… I ate 6 more desert spring rolls and they were delicious.

There was a ton of food left over, so we split up the food, said our goodbyes end headed home. What a day! Food, new knowledge, interesting new people and cook book to take home.

Once we got home I let me food settle, then headed out for a run and herbal sauna. I spotted Braam and Zuzka, they were keen to help us finish the left over food from the cooking course. We went over to their place with Chang beer and food. Chats and more good times.