Sunday, August 19, 2012

Phuket Tour: Day 2 (19th August 2012)

It was a good night sleep, in fact it was so comfortable that I overslept a bit. So after the rush to pack everything. I walked out of my room to one of the best morning view I have ever seen.

Magnificent view of  the Phu Khao Ok Thalu mountain as a backdrop.
The view so good that you have to take a photo with your bike.
The group photo before we leave for Trang.
After enjoying the morning view and the group photo, we headed out toward town to have breakfast. As we cycled out, we can see the beauty of the Phattalung town basking in morning sunshine, as it was pitch-dark black and couldn't see anything when we arrived late at night.

We ventured off from the main street and try our luck looking for breakfast. Thou we found a few places, we spotted one restaurant that sell my hometown's specialty: Bak Kut Teh (my hometown pork-brewed herbal soup). We simply have to try it out and see how it taste like.

The shop also sell Dim-Sum variety as well, but we didn't try it out. Colourful presentation though.

As I thought the Bak Kut Teh was cooked in Hokkien style due to the dark-sauce soup, the taste were actually closer to Cantonese style as it taste more herbal (compare to Hokkien's salty style). Though I'm quite used to my hometown style, I'm enjoying every bit of my breakfast.

There's no way we can escape from 7-11....
After breakfast, we explored the town a bit before we hit the road to Trang. But before that we have to stopped at our favourite chain-stores for refuel (and they are basically everywhere!!!).

Our second day, we only have to cycle about 75km to reach Trang, but not before climbing through Nakhon Si Thammarat mountain range, and hill climbs are not my favourite.....

My country should have more of those sign.....

There is nothing interesting to see during the first 19km journey since we left the town of Phattalung, except for few shops selling souvenir, fruit and refreshment. So at the next regroup point, we decided to detour at one of the junction to check out Phudakodom Cave and Khao Kram Waterfall, since we have time to spare.
Good thing about touring in Thailand is that since tourism is one of main contributor to Thailand economy, tourist sign have been put up to ensure that tourist like us can find and understand the places of interest easily.

We stopped by the Putta Khodom Cave first. We parked our bikes at the open compound, and the place look empty. Few minutes of loitering around and then a monk appear from the house. Had a conversation for a while before the monk lead us into the cave temple.

It was my first time visiting the Thai cave temple, so I have very little idea what to expect it. Though there will be plenty of Buddha statue...

Since it is hard to explain in words how big the cave really is.... so I thought I compiled a video to show the big network of the cave.

After finish exploring the cave, we made a donation. Took a short break before heading our way to the waterfall.

The village road is certainly more quiet and more scenic than the highway we have been using.

After cycling for some time, I finally spot the sign that will lead us to the Khao Kram waterfall. Oh yes... after enduring the hot weather today, we are sure looking forward to dip into the cooling water. But first we have to make our way up.

In the midway, we stumbled an unusual sight. A group of villages were cleaning and chopping pig carcass into smaller pieces. Not sure if the villagers living beyond the stream will drink the blood-filled river water.

Fortunately for us it was not a gruesome climb as I fear, and soon we stopped by a hut, parked our bikes, then we headed to the waterfall.

There was some local villagers at the gathering area but they were leaving, so we have the whole place for ourselves.

[put video]

After the nice soaking in the cooling water that feel like eternity, sadly we have to move on. By the time we are leaving, it is approaching noon and we have to return back to the main road and look for lunch.

The front group spotted an eatery and went for it. Just in time to hide from the afternoon burning sun.

My lunch: Fried rice and fried egg.... very delicious....

After the quick lunch, we cycled some distance in flat, and soon came the sight of the climb which i feared. And to make matter worse, there was road-work ongoing and the road shoulder have been dug up for widening, so we have only so much space to share with the traffic.

Despite the lack of shoulder & very narrow road, the drivers were very careful when they tried to overtake us, except for some large-size vehicles, they only overtook us when there is no traffic on the opposite lane. Very appreciate of their thoughtfulness.

After some time, we reached the peak of the climb, and there is a rest-stop and I pretty sure my friends will take refuge from the hot hot sun. Truly enough they were already sipping very cold drink.

After a long rest, it was time to go downhill. As expected, the road was still very narrow and I have to be mindful not to veer outward, especially when I using 20" wheel which have less stability at high speed than it's bigger brethren.

After the downhill, I was cycling along when a truck drive side by side with me. Inside the truck was a couple, which I presume they are the cyclists as I could see their bike on the back of the truck. They sparked a conversation with me, asking me where I'm from, heading where, and ask me if I want to hitch a ride. I courtnesy and turn down their offer, thank them anyway and wish us luck before driving off.

Soon after passing the sign welcoming us to Trang. And we came across one of the significant hotel that looked like a cruiser ship! What a sight indeed.

Coincidentally Aaron got a flat, and not only he had to change his spare tube, he also changing his balding tyre as well. So more time to admire the design of the hotel.

After Aaron finished fixing, we cycled into Trang town.Compare to the Phattalung town we arrived yesterday, the traffic were more busy. And again we have to depend on the GPS to look for suitable hotels. Thou I have plan to meet up with my friend who have checked in earlier in the day, I kinda miss the road and we end up to one grand-looking hotel, and they decided to check it out anyway.

Newly-renovated hotel with spacious room at a reasonable rate. And most importantly we can roll our bikes into our room make the deals sweeter.

During our rest, I received a call from my friends and agreed to meet up. Gave him my hotel GPS location and soon he arrived with his touring partner and we discussed about our adventures, our routes and options. Nice meeting up..

Dinner time came, and we assembled at the lobby and we cycled out to the night market we spotted when we passed past earlier.

People mountain people sea...

The dog whom sit in the middle of the road but everyone walk around it...
Colourful takeaway...
Sweet drink with "extra".....
BBQ chicken stick... very yummy....
Best Large BBQ Squid I ever ate. Ripe on the outside, juicy on the inside!

After visiting the night market to sample some of the best street food they have to offer, a few of us decided to go for dinner. A short ride to a Chinese restaurants and we ordered some usual dishes, including Thailand's signature dish... a Tom Yam soup.

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel for an early night. Riding to Krabi will be the longest with the estimated distance of 133km. And I would like to reach there as early as possible so we have more time to explore on the most happening town in the southern part of Thailand.

View the Photo Album here

Ride data of Day 2:
Distance: 79.5km
Average Moving Speed: 15km/hr
Max Speed: 47km/hr
Total time taken: 10h16m

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Phuket Tour: Day 1 (18th August 2012)

I woke up to a cold morning, not knowing where the train had passed. A quick check on my GPS duly informed me that we were heading toward Arau. And the clock also informed me that I miss the sunrise time.

Miss the sunrise......
Waiting for train to depart to Hatyai at the Padang Besar KTM Station.
Before we alighted from our carriage, we asked the train conductor if it is possible to leave our bikes behind. And he said it shouldn't be any issue since they are going to detach all but the last two carriages before heading toward Hatyai.

Me explaining the routes option before we set off to Hat Yai, our starting point.
Clearing the immigration is a breeze, and soon we headed for breakfast, which is about 9.30am Malaysia time. Since we have to wait for sometime before we can board the train, I gave briefing to my team-mates on the possible route for the day.

When we arrived at the Hatyai, it was already 11.30am. Lucky for us, we gain extra one hour due to different timezone so it is 10.30am. Still the train was late, so we quickly carried out our luggages and began assembled our bikes on platform no 4.
All of us scrambled to assembled the bikes on platform 4, except for one...

He's the only one who doesn't need to assemble his bike... just push in, pay the oversize luggage fee to the conductor, and only need to put on the pannier bags and rotate the handle bar... like a boss!
My touring folding bike....
2 folding bikes, 2 MTB, one hybrid and one touring bikes. Out of 6 of us, only one didn't bother to put the bike into the bag, which was very wise move. Unlike folding bikes that just need to unfold, those using MTB have to reassemble their fork & stem, put on the wheel, install their pannier rack, and then finally have to fold their big bike bag as compact as possible. And finally there was one very considerate tourer who packed his bike as compact as possible so he can minimised the footprint on the very narrow carriage, but have to practically reinstall a lot more stuff back to his bike. By the time we finished setting up, it was already 11.45am. Look like it is going to be a hot ride.

Ah... a Chinese restaurant in Hat Yai... good chance we can communicate without issue...
A short ride through the town and we decided to stop for lunch at one of the Chinese restaurant.

Hmmmm.... the braid pork leg in dark sauce dish...
Steamed chicken dish
Our lunch was quite the typical choice, as you can ordered the same dishes in Malaysia. But nevertheless the taste are quite distinctively different from the Malaysia Chinese food.

Big Chinese Temple under renovation
After the hearty lunch, we slowly made our way out from the town of Hat Yai and find the route 43. But first we got to navigate through the busy street of Hatyai on hot dry day....

As discussed early at the station, we need to cycle 98km to Phattalung and spend a night before heading toward Trang the next morning.

Very useful signboard for tourist...
Despite the presence of the trees that provided necessary shades from the sun, the air is hot, the road is undulating, and the traffic was noisy. However on the highway, we had the wide shoulder road for us cyclist and motorcyclist to use. And furthermore the drivers were considerably a lot more considerate than those crazy drivers back in my home country. If they spot you from the distance before exiting to the main road, they will wait patiently for you to cycle past them before they drive off.

Along the way we spotted a lone shop selling a lot of bikes, so we stopped by and check out the shop.

Beside the road sign that remind me how many painful KM left, there are plenty of fruits store that sell deliciously sweet pineapple.

Finally! Welcome to Phattalung!
Arriving at the town of Phatthalung, the sun had already set, and now we have to look for hotel. After using blind luck to search for hotel doesn't yield any result. Time to consult my GPS. The first hotel we went was fully-booked for the night. And the next hotel look like out of town. But we had no choice but to move on.

Look how dark the place was....

As we cycled out of the town, the street became darker and darker. After some distance we turn into completely dark alley with no street light, and I really wondered if it is the correct way. We continued on and we were delighted that we found our hotel accommodation. And it is really a good bargain as a room of two just cost 300baht, with air-conditioner provided. Since it was already 8pm, we immediately took up the offer, put our stuff into our room and we headed out for dinner.

Speaking with the local is a lot harder than we thought. And ordering our dinner wasn't smooth-sailing. So what we can do is to point at the ingredients or the dishes other customers had ordered. Lucky for us, we get to eat what we expected of the Thai food, and it was simply delicious.

One quick glance and I know why the room is soooo cheap..... no water heater....arrhhhhhhh
After the heart-warming dinner, we headed back to our accommodation. And I began to understand why the room rate is so cheap.. hahaha. But I'm not too fussy about the condition of the room. I'm just glad to have a shelter over my head for the night.

View the Photo Album here

Ride data of Day 1:
Distance: 108km
Average Moving Speed: 17km/hr
Max Speed: 47km/hr
Total time taken: 10h16m