(334km - 5days)
(20/01 – 24/01/2019)
20 January - Jomtien – Phale Beach – 60 km
After three days of organising bikes and panniers, we were finally off. I always find cycle touring a kaleidoscope of colour, sounds, smells and sights. Today was no different and I think it can be overwhelming for a person on their first day of cycling. Although our ride was only 60 kilometres, our route was filled with an abundance of interesting sights. Our first stop for the day was at Ban Chak Ngaeo. Ban Chak Ngaeo is a community of Thai Chinese who still maintain their traditional lifestyle. The amazing thing is that there are two cinemas in this tiny settlement. We cycled out of the village in the direction of the enormous Wat Yansangwararam temple complex. The complex is set in a vast park, housing several buildings of very different architectural styles, as well as well-kept gardens and a large lake, making for a peaceful setting.
From there, we followed small roads in the direction of the coast and eventually landed up at Phale Beach. After asking around, we found a guest house right on the ocean where we could sit wriggling our toes in the sand. We straightaway dipped into the lukewarm water of the Gulf of Thailand. At sunset, we took a walk along the beach and watched the sun set while fishermen were preparing their boats to go out to see. We ended up at a local restaurant with tables on the sand and we, once again, sat wriggling our toes in the sand. The food was delicious, and we sat watching the moon rise over the ocean. Well done to Janice who did amazingly well on her first day of riding.
21 January - Phale Beach – Ban Phe – 60 km
After a quick swim, we were on our way again. We made our way through the Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate. Thailand’s largest industrial estate and the world’s eighth largest petrochemical hub. We followed the coast for most of the day past long stretches of idyllic beaches with hardly anyone there. Along the way, we stopped for coconut juice and sat watching the ocean while digging out the soft coconut inside the shell.
Around midday, we reached Rayong but continued along the coast until we reached the coastal village of Ban Phe. In Ban Phe, we found a room and took a walk to the pier where boats carted people to and from the nearby Ko Samet. The town is mostly known for seafood processing, mainly fish sauce and it was, therefore, no wonder that fishing boats were anchored three to four deep along the many piers. It was an early evening as Janice came down with a cold and did not feel well.
22 January - Ban Phe – Kung Witman Beach – 70 km
We had a slow start to the day but eventually got underway and followed the coastal road for another day. It was a lovely ride as we stuck close to the ocean for most of the morning, stopping every so often to fill up with water or just enjoying the view. We cycled across bridges where we could see a large number of fishing boats anchored along the banks. The road was in a good condition and, although not a main road, it had a dedicated cycle lane for most of the way.
As in the previous days, we were amazed at the large number of units available, either for sale or to let. Eventually, we reached pretty Kung Wiman Beach where we found a room across the road from the beach. We had hardly offloaded our panniers and we were drifting in the ocean. We sat watching the sunset over the Gulf of Thailand and what an impressive display it was.
23 January - Kung Wiman Beach – Chantaburi – 61 km
I first went for my morning jog that took me over two small hills to a beautiful viewpoint and then on to a tiny fishing village. Back in the room, Janice was busy packing up, and it was already late by the time we were ready to leave. It was another marvellous day of cycle touring as we followed the road past fish farms and more of Thailand’s idyllic beaches. Along the way, we stopped for a bite to eat as I had no breakfast and was starting to feel somewhat peckish. Along the way, we met Kim, a cycle tourer, whom I met on Facebook. Kim was heading in the opposite direction and, after chatting for a while, we each headed off on our own path again.
Then it was on to Chantaburi where King Taksin rallied the troops here after the fall of Ayutthaya. We first stopped at a local bicycle shop to fit mirrors on our bicycles. Just as we crossed the Chantaburi River, we spotted the River Guesthouse. The rooms were reasonably priced and the perfect spot for us to overnight. Later that evening, we took a walk to the night market, via Sri Chan road, well-known as the Gem Road for trading gems and jewellery. It is one of the big gem markets in Thailand. The night market did not disappoint and we found an abundance of food stalls to choose from.
24 January - Chantaburi – Ban Phakkat – 83 km
We left Chantaburi via the Historic market, the oldest part of the city. We cycled down the narrow lanes, and it felt that we were transported back in time. We cycled past old wooden shophouses, red Chinese lanterns and stalls selling interesting eats. Soon we found ourselves on a rural road heading in the direction of Khao Khitchakut National Park and the Khao Bunjob Waterfall. The way to the waterfall was far hillier than expected. It was, however, a beautiful and peaceful area but minus any waterfall. We spotted a Buddhist temple and road on the opposite bank of the small river and instead of cycling back the way we came, we tried to get across, bikes and all. A short walk upstream revealed a path through the forest as well as a suspension bridge. We dragged, pushed and pulled the bikes through the forest and across the suspension bridge. We were delighted to find a much easier road and freewheeled back to the main road.
Once on the main road, we encountered a rather steep pass over the mountain, but at a slow and steady pace, we reached the top. Shortly afterwards, we turned off in the direction of the Ban Phakkat border. After all those hills I wanted to give Janice more uplifting news and mentioned that the road to Bam Phakkat should be more level except for a few small humps. Janice, afterwards, claimed that the camel had at least 12 huge humps!
Ban Phakkat is a rather low-key border crossing, and we were happy to find a bungalow at the entrance of town for 400 TB. It was a tough day on the road and Janice did exceptionally well to make it up and over those hills and all the way to Phakkat.