Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ko Samui - Part 2

Round-island ride
We were well-rested. Had a good night sleep and were raring to go.
After a simple breakfast, we went back to our rooms to set up the bikes. 
Then we rode North towards Bo Phut, the next town after Chaweng.
It was a smooth ride and along the way, we found out that the island is hilly with lots of undulating terrain.

Getting ready for the ride
Bo Phut - Nathon
The sky was bright and we could feel the heat all along the way.
Traffic was a breeze and cycling around Thailand, I noticed that the cars and truck would make an effort to avoid you.
Basically, we were the only couple on a small bike and were the only people wearing helmets.
We reached the town of Bo Phut where the giant Buddha statue is found.
Took a couple of photos there and continued the journey towards Nathon.

At the Giant Buddha of Bo Phut
Scores of tourists arrived in droves at the temple in Bo Phut.
After snapping some shots, we were on our way.
From this town, its a long ride towards the port town of Nathon.
This is where ferries from the mainland berthed.
We rode the undulating terrain towards Mae Nam and while we were cycling, we saw an old-timer on a mountain bike in full riding gear.
He was the first Thai cyclist we saw on the road.
Since motorcycle rentals are cheap, people hardly cycle in Ko Samui.

Rolling down to Nathon
A spectacular climb
After Mae Nam, the journey becomes really interesting.
We had to climb a hill, about 25% gradient. The initial climb was smooth until we reached the last stretch, which was impossible to cycle. 
Michelle and I got off our bikes and started pushing.
At this point, we figured out that it was pointless to hurt ourselves.
After a short distance, we were at a viewpoint on the hill.
Then, it was a fast downhill roll towards Nathon.
It took us nearly two hours to get from Chaweng to the port town.
There, we took a break and had an early lunch at a touristy cafe.
For a simple meal, the bill came up to 380baht.
Ko Samui is just filled with tourist outlets and if you want to eat on the cheap, there are places to do so. Highly recommended: are the local joints where you can have noodles in soup or a plate of rice. Halal food for the Muslim cyclists is far and few in between here.

The port town on Nathon with ferries from Donsak
Route 4169 to Na Mueang
We didn't do much in Nathon.
On my mind, we have to complete the loop back to Chaweng.
Ko Samui, as it seems, is a large island.
The routes are also pretty scenic.
I was looking at m Garmin EDGE800 GPS and found a route back to Chaweng.
Its route 4169 that passes through Na Mueang, Lamai and eventually, back to where we started.
Now, while climbing a hill towards Na Mueang, I noticed that the plug-in gel insert on my saddle was missing. This was the third time it happened and it was pretty irritating.
We stopped at a PTT petrol station near Na Mueang for coffee. They had an Amazon coffee outlet which is pretty cheap. You pay only 50 baht for an iced coffee.
Na Mueang is also a tourist attraction, there is a waterfall and the Kunaram temple where a mummified monk is on display.
After the coffee break, we pushed towards Lamai beach.

Route 4169
The final push
The terrain near Lamai is undulating.
From this point, its a 9km ride towards Chaweng.
Waiting ahead, is a steep hill that would sap every bit of energy on our body.
This is even more challenging than the hill near Nathon.
With just a short distance to cover, we endured and cycled as far as we could until we couldn't go any further.

At the peak of the hill with a beautiful background
From the peak of the hill, we had a spectacular view of Chaweng.
Then, its a downhill roll and another climb, this time worse than any hills we've ever seen. The irony of this, we couldn't get enough as we climbed it again the following day on our trip to the Na Mueang waterfalls.
After five hours on the road, we'd finally reached a junction connecting Chaweng.
Then, it was a smooth ride back to the hotel.
I was skeptical in the beginning, but we've completed a round-island ride, covering a distance of 63.92km.

The recorded route
We were glad that the training in Hulu Langat actually helped.
Climbing was no easy chore, but we endured.
Ko Samui is a nice place to cycle and there are plenty of scenic areas to visit.
Even with a 5D 4N stay, we could only see so much.
The next few days that we were in this island, the distances were scaled down for recovery..
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