Monday 2 April, 2018
Day 5 / Jomtien to Ban Phe
[Missed Day 4? Read the previous post here]
A long day of cycling ahead, so we chow down some bread we bought the previous night and I decide to wear my skull face mask for the first time this trip to avoid inhaling all the fumes along the highway.
We make sure that we make regular stops along the way to get food, water and rest our backsides. One thing we notice in Thailand is the lack of rubbish bins on the streets. I try to find one outside the convenience store to dispose of some water bottles but there are none. A guy sitting at the next shops signals me over and points me in the direction of a handmade dustpan, made out of half a giant water container sticky taped to a long stick for the handle. I leave the bottles in there and thank him before we continue on.
The ride is pretty cruisy but we start to tire of always cycling on highways. It’s not that they’re unsafe – in fact they feel safer than cycling anywhere in Australia – but the endless fumes and dust from the cars, having to weave around vehicles constantly and following one long straight road can make you lose your focus, especially when you have to keep your wits about you. We decide tonight we will look the maps to see if there are any alternate routes so we can avoid the highway.
We eventually turn off the main highway and arrive at a small beach side town with lots narrow roads and small shops. We need to go a little further east to get right into town and start searching for a place to stay. The first place I find on the map has a sign saying “Rooms. Please ask at the bar” but the door is closed and the building surrounded in scaffolding as it looks like they are doing renovations or repairs. We continue walking but accommodation seems non-existent. We end up back tracking and find Mac Garden Resort.
I always picture resorts as being these expensive touristy places that charge an arm and a leg for you to book massages and treatments and eat their overpriced western food. We turn down the driveway and try to find the check-in area but there is none – just the driveway leading to rows of bungalow style rooms, and a busy restaurant next to the path serving up noodles and seafood. So I wander in to ask a staff member who I can speak to about a room. The waiter runs to the kitchen to grab one of the chefs – who I assume is the owner of the place – and he comes out. “Yes, can I help you?” Oh good, he speaks English! I ask him if there are rooms available and he gives me prices and has one of the ladies takes us down the driveway to check the room out. It’s far from a resort but it’s only 700 baht and at least the air con works well.
Once we’ve settled in, we suss out somewhere for lunch. I’ve marked out a vegetarian place on the map and we go searching for it. We’re supposed to turn down the street where the Beatles Bar is but can’t find it – with a bit of research later, it turns out the bar has closed permanently like most things on the map. We eventually find the vegetarian place but it is also closed, although just for the day and not permanently. I get a little frustrated as I’m hungry so we decide to go back to the restaurant at Mac Garden Resort (Kang Ban Phe) because at least the guy spoke English. We head back and order Vegetarian Pad Thai and Cheye also orders a beer. We scoff it down as soon as it comes out – it’s so good!
I’m still hungry so I suggest we order some fried rice as well. I swear that the waiters on our travels must think we’re gluttons because we always order so much food on our cycling days. I guess that’s one of the positives of cycling during your travels – you don’t have to worry so much about eating the good stuff. We finish off the rice then go for a wander around town before heading back to our room.
We discover there is a night market down the road which only opens on Mondays and Thursdays (lucky today is a Monday!) so we head there for dinner. It’s pretty busy with plenty of locals buying produce and dinner for the night.
We notice lots of different food stalls including whole roast chickens and stuffed frogs. The first thing we get is chive dumplings. We get a combination of steamed and fried dumplings and sit down to eat them as I’m starving.
We carry on walking and Cheye gets some dessert which ends up being his dinner, and one of those giant shakes we’ve been seeing everywhere. All the flavours are written in Thai so he picks one at random. After endless laps, I end up buying some vegetable dishes in a bag, and some rice in a bag. I also get some pineapple for later (surprise surprise!) and Cheye picks up some longans.
We go back to the room to eat dinner – the bag of rice ends up being congee (Chinese porridge) and I am literally eating veggies and congee from small plastic bags while sitting on a towel on the floor at our ‘resort’. Dinner isn’t great so I toss most of it out. The pineapple is good but I’m still disappointed with dinner. I then have trouble sleeping which isn’t good because we have another long day of cycling coming up tomorrow.