As we are completely wrecked from the events of the previous day we decide to break the next planned day of cycling into two and do 20km today and 40km the following day. We take a well-deserved sleep in (no alarms!) and wait till the last possible minute to check out at midday. The bad news is we have to lug our bikes back over the pedestrian overpass to get to the other side of the road again. We check out, grab some watermelon and pineapple from the roadside cart for a quick bite before we set off. It’s a pretty non-eventful ride cycling down the highway following the express way. At times the traffic backs up or slows so much that we are going faster than the cars if we weave in and out the vehicles. Sometimes it’s easier when there are motorbikes to follow.
Even though we feel ok after 20km and could probably do the extra 40km to Jomtien, we decide to stick with our plan of two shorter days to recover as there are a few long days coming up. We turn off the main highway and cycle down to Bang Saen, a small coastal beach town. I spot a vegetarian food place covered in yellow flags close to the start of the main road and keep it in mind for later.
We hit the end of the road with a giant sign at the roundabout saying ‘Welcome to Bang Saen Beach’. We get off our bikes to check out a few different guesthouses. There is a man standing by a lane way with a sign for The Day Hotel. We ask him how much for one night and he quotes 1000 baht, which is a little more than we want to pay. We bargain with him and offer 800. He hesitates for a moment then turns around and walks towards the hotel so we follow. He continues inside to show us the room – it looks fine so we say “Ok. 800?” He responds with “No, 1000”. We say no and wander off to continue our search. The next place also quotes 1000 baht, telling us it’s the Saturday / weekend rate. The next place is even more at 1500. I do one final check at a place offering ‘Room & Toilet’. They quote 600. I’m already a little skeptical at the low price and ask to see the room. It’s a bungalow style room with a shared bathroom so we go back to our mate at Day Hotel. You know you’re getting old when you refuse to share a bathroom when looking for accommodation.
We check in then head out for some lunch. I find a vegetarian place marked on the map just down the road so we go looking for it. We have trouble finding it, even asking inside a few shops but none of them have heard of it. Every other place close by seems to be serving fish (what Bang Saen is known for), including the hipster dim sum place we mistook for a vegan restaurant due to a charity box on its counter collecting money to save the monkeys. I recall the other vegetarian place back at the start of the road from earlier as we cycled in. It’s about 3km away and I’m starving but we decide to walk back down to at least guarantee us a feed. We get there at about 4pm and they appear to be closing up for the day but allow us to come in and purchase what they have leftover which looks like bags of vegetables, noodles and mock meats. They allow us to sit down and eat. The food is cold but I’m so hungry I couldn’t care less by that stage.
We walk back to our guesthouse via a big shopping mall lined with food stalls out front. I try some sour mango that a guy is selling at his stall. I consider buying some as I’ve seen it everywhere – the guy gives me a piece to try with some sauce that he says is ‘not-spicy’. However I start coughing up my lungs because I forget that ‘not-spicy’ doesn’t mean ‘no-spicy’, it just means ‘less-spicy’ which in Thailand is still ‘pretty-spicy’.
Later, we’re not sure what to do for dinner and start by walking the markets by the beach, most of which have closed up by then. We decide our best bet it to look for a western place, which I don’t like doing but sometimes it’s the only option. As we walk past an Asian looking place, a Thai woman says ‘You want to eat? What you like?’ We show her our translation for vegetarian and she shows us the different vegetables dishes on the menu she can cook for us. We order a few plates of stir fried veggies with rice and head in to sit down.
On the way back to the guesthouse we see a food stall making mini crepes filled with custard and other sugary goodness so we buy some as well as some fruit (you’ll soon discover I LOVE fresh pineapple). It’s funny that all roadside stalls give you a bag of salt when you purchase pineapple from them – it’s supposed to make the fruit sweeter. I don’t know why you’d do it though – the pineapple is sensational in Thailand and far sweeter than any I’ve tried elsewhere. The crepes are pretty awesome too and we’re tempted to go back down and buy some more but decide against it so we don’t suffer from insomnia from the sugar high.