Wednesday 4 April, 2018
Day 7 / Chanthaburi to Pong Nam Ron
[Missed Day 6? Read the previous post here]
The original plan today was to cycle across the Thai border into the Cambodian town of Pailin but we decide to split the ride in two and stay overnight in Pong Nam Ron, the last town before the border. We eat what is left of our bread after throwing out most of it due to the pork floss we discovered last night and head out around 6.30am. Today we decide to stay off the highway again and stick to some smaller roads, which (very roughly) follows Chanthaburi River. They weave back and forth and once again it gets very hot very quickly.
We are pretty consistent with our riding, only stopping when we come to a turn or need to check the map. At one point we stop as we see a giant durian growing on a tree. I’ve never seen a durian growing on a tree, let alone one that big!
Along the way we see a group of cyclists on a bike tour having a rest stop at the roadside shops. We wave to them as we pass by but it’s not the last time we will see them as our paths will cross again the following day.
I struggle in the last 15km especially when we hit three big hills, each steeper than the last (7-11% grade). I realise I haven’t eaten enough during the ride today and continue to fade the closer we get to our destination. My first thought is thank goodness we cut this day’s ride in two – there’s no way I could’ve done another 50km to Pailin.
We eventually arrive at what looks like the edge of town with a big gas station and 7-11 convenience store. We turn off to check out one of the hotels marked on the map but it looks like it’s permanently closed. The only other place we know of is Sai Bungalow which I not only spotted on the map but read about on Crazy Guy on a Bike’s blog. I’m not too keen though as I read there is no flushing toilet or hot water but it seems to be the only option in this small town.
We find it and I poke my head into the first room which has a ‘Welcome’ sign on the window. The room is set out like someone’s bedroom with a lady boy doing her hair, and I think I’ve accidentally gone into someone’s private room. I ask “Umm…do you have a room?” Lady boy says “200 for fan, 380 for air con”. We check out the room with the air con. I’m relieved when I see an actual toilet in the bathroom, which at first I think flushes but discover later it does not. It’s not the greatest room I’ve stayed in but at USD $12 a night it’s definitely the cheapest place we’ve stayed in Thailand. At least it has air con. It also had the bonus of a few critters and lizards in the room!
We park our bikes outside the room and lay all our clothes out over our bikes so they can dry out. We figure we can wash our clothes tomorrow at a proper hotel.
After settling in, we head out to wander the markets and turned heads as if the locals had never seen a white guy before. I can’t imagine they get many tourists in this small town. As we searched for somewhere to have lunch a lady starts calling out in English ‘You want something? What you like?’. We pulled out our Thai translation for vegetarian and she says she will make stir fried vegetables on rice.
As we waited at the table she even brings out some mushrooms asking if we would like her to add them to the stir fry, which we happily said yes too. The food is yummy and just what we need after a tough cycle! We decided we would go back for dinner as well. A little bit of English definitely goes a long way.
We spot one small convenience store in town and buy a few supplies and water before heading back to the room. I have to confess that I’m not drinking as much water as I should be as I’m trying to avoid using the toilet. I get toilet trauma, especially when it comes to squat toilets or toilets you have to wash down yourself with a scoop bucket. Probably not the best idea as I need to make sure I’m hydrated for tomorrow’s ride but I make do.
We head out for dinner a bit later at the same place we had lunch, mainly because it was the easiest option and sometimes it gets tiresome trying to figure out foreign food places. You’ll discover that later as we start to eat at more tourist friendly joints (ie. Western restaurants)! On the walk back to our bungalow we pick up some sweet treats, including some pandan flavoured sticky rice dessert that I really like.
Distance cycled: 52km (highway, mostly flat with three hills at the end 7-11% gradient)
Time spent cycling: 2hr 53min
Accommodation: Sai Bungalow (380 baht)
More info on Sai Bungalow: Crazy Guy on a Bike
Lunch and Dinner: Local restaurant at the food market