Ranong to Chumphon: On the bus

Posted: June 8, 2010 in Cycle touring South Thailand & Malaysia 2010
Tags: , , , , ,

Thursday May 6, 2010, 28 km (17 miles) – Total so far: 437 km (272 miles)

That’s a huge and hilly distance today. 138 kms on the map. We’ll see. Sorely tempted to contribute to the Thai Green Bus Company today. I’ll probably make it to Kraburi 80kms on for lunch and wait for a ‘Green Bus’

Actually not. Meaning I had a great time taking pictures at Ranong’s fishing pier, saphan pla in Thai. I’m not too crazy about seafood, too messy to eat sometimes and the smells have turned me off since young.

Huge amounts of seafood being unloaded from fishing vessels queing up along a long pier just to unload. The bounty from tha Andaman Sea seemed limitless. Pity that some of the catch were still so small. Here’s a rundown.

Baby hammerhead sharks, small tuna, mackerel, red snappers, squid of all shape sizes and colours, shrimp and prawn, puffer fish, a few barracuda, octopus, jellyfish. Most were in neat heaps, some almost like mini pyramids, mixed in with shaved ice. Even the shaved ice vendors were entertaining, supplying huge rectangular man sized blocks of ice, shoved into a giant grinder on a ramp with a queue of wheelbarrows, smalll trucks and m/cycles with side cars below a ramp, waiting to load up.

These sharks were still infants

Stingray close up

All the dirty work was done by Burmese immigrants while the Thais, some of the women nicely made up with very ‘unblack’ coloured hair mingled around in deep thought, writing notes and passing slips to the sellers. They were the restaurant owners and wholesalers bidding for the squirming mess on the very wet floors. Not good for white SPD shoes with cleats, slipping here would be extremely embarassing. As it is I was already being gawked at endlessly. A helmeted alien in lycra, swaggering around with 2 cameras.

This visit lasted 2 hours including a 28 km ride to and fro, plus stops at 2 bike shops, one of which was a veritable bicycle museum with stuff for sale. One man’s crazy collection masquerading as a shop. This place is opposite the Sunny Lodge, a 4 storey blue building, which has a pizza restaurant below.

He had a new Salsa suspension corrected rigid cromo fork as well as a Kona Project 2 for a highly negotiable Thb 1500 / $45 each, but the thought of dragging those two items for another few hundred kms or so was plain stupid.

So many bikes so little time
By the time I was done with an English breakfast and washing the smell of the sea from my shoes, oops it was 1100 hrs. Bus time and was it just really timely. The last 3 long days of cycling, was taking it’s toll, and a good nap on the bus would be welcome luxury. Rolled into the spanking new bus station and tourist info office. Asked a girl who worked there about bus schedules. She looked lost as if the bus station was on another planet. She had to scream at a friend in the bathroom, who came out with still wet hair and pointed to a spot around a shady bend. “There, many buses”
Had a bit of a run in with the, shall I say ‘bus boy general’ of the Ranong to Bangkok express. His pseudo peak cap and big buttoned shirt still read ‘bus boy’ but I bet he ranked himself at Lieutenant Colonel at least. Had something against bicycles and me boarding too soon before departure. There was so much space in the hold, as confirmed by the 2 drivers, for bikes and what not, but this guy had to have the final say, no bicycles. Right.
I totally ignored him, talking only to the drivers who were more than happy to accomodate for a small tip. With the bike loaded and tied in the hold he then wanted the panniers in there too. No way, as they get moved around when other passengers come and go with their own stuff, and some itchy fingers might just help themselves. It has happened before, but thankfully not to me.
He then stood in the doorway staring me down. WTF?? OK bring it on. I took off my sunglasses, and my watch and ring, crossed my arms and waited, and asked a driver why they had a child of 17 working on the bus. After some words from the driver, the child went back on board. Besides it’s not right to give a child a bloody nose, not in front of his GF. Might scar him, or his porcelained skin for life.
Turns out his GF was on the trip too and well he wanted to exert some bus boy authority, swooning and then acceding to every request of the GF, like running off to buy snacks and water. Ironically his skin and features were much nicer than the GF, what with his constant blotting, powdering and applying whitening cream while on the move. Some people are really in the wrongest of wrong jobs. He’d fit right in a bridal parlour or hairdressers.

Across the steep hills to the Gulf of Thailand. Much easier by bus

Immediately after town the hills and curves began in earnest, and with road works and the way the Thai Dept of Rural Roads reshapes hillsides, dig ditches and build new bridges, cycling this part of Rte 4 was not going to be fun. At exactly 2 pm the rains started heavily, so much so that the driver actually stopped as visibility was zero.
Kraburi north of Ranong didn’t seem like much, another dusty linear town, though some CGOABers have stayed here. Some nice jungle with clouds and mist hanging on to hill tops, better appreciated from the cool, dry confines of a bus, esp when it’s raining. On any other day, riding this should be fun, but clever me, I am still covering ground while on a rest day.
Got to Chumphon early evening and rolled in to the vast parking lot of the Chumphon Palace Hotel. Free internet in the lobby. Yay. Felt quite zapped out from just the bus ride. It’s quite funny how the body feels more tired from not cycling. Go figure. I’ll get some expert advice from a masseuse. Ciao !

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