Wednesday, July 17, 2013

ToST - Part 4

Another awesome day on the road..

Morning call: the bikes are ready to hit the road

We took advantage of the early daybreak to cycle as far as we could.
The route from Ranot to Patthalung is roughly around 64km and the weather is expected to be scorching hot.
This will be a trans-province ride on Route 4048 and even as early as 05:00am in the morning, the scene was breath-taking.
We cycled along the paddy fields and practically around the Thale Noi lake system.

Michelle and her trusty Dahon Speed TR
The awesome Route 4048

It was a sheer delight to cycle around Southern Thailand's countryside. 
Virtually no pollution and traffic.
We enjoyed the first 20km ride out of Ranot to connect with some rural villages along the way. On this route, we had no fear about running out of water as most of the areas were populated.
After covering nearly 15km, we decided to pull over at a roadside stall to have a coffee break.


The rising Sun on my back
A lady who runs the stall had fried us some koay teow.
Roger and I had a cup of coffee each while the rest drank plain water. Our bill came up to 80 baht and after chatting with the lady, we headed off to the raised road on the lake system.
Before we left, the stall owner offered us deep-fried salted fish and rice. It was her generous gesture, but we felt it as way too much eating rice in the morning, especially with salted fish. 
So, we declined and left the stall..

Riding into the mist
I raise my hat to the Thai people..

We worked our way to the raised road leading to Patthalung.
This is basically a 5km stretch where the road is elevated. 
The scene is breath-taking as the lake's eco-system can be seen from both sides of the raised road.
Traffic was light and the weather was good.
We saw some fishermen doing their job to earn the day's catch.

And the one thing I must say here is the fact that the entire route was so clean, there's hardly any rubbish strewn on the roadside.
You don't see this in Malaysia because irresponsible road users would litter everywhere.
With such a beautiful road, there's no private owner charging toll. That's amazing! 

The lake system is a sustainable place for the livelyhood of the people living around it

Climbing the raised road

A view of the raised road
The road to Patthalung
A freshwater fisherman working with his cast net
Thale Noi bird sanctuary

One of Songkhla's main attraction is the Thale Noi lake and its bird sanctuary.
This is roughly about 2km away from the junction to Ban Lam Pam and Patthalung.
We rode to this area to do some sight-seeing as well as find a decent place for breakfast.
Along the way, we witnessed a wedding procession and stopped to take some photographs.
Later, we rode to the end of the bird sanctuary and back to the Ranger's headquarters where Michelle took a toilet break.
I found a shop nearby and had noodles for breakfast before we cycled to Ban Lam Pam..

A wedding procession in town
Villagers earn their living by processing aquatic products harvested from the Thale Noi

Catch of the day: food fishes on sale
The noodle shop in Thale Noi

Koay teow soup for the soul..
Now, this is where the fun begins!

We've had a real good breakfast and it was time to push towards Ban Lam Pam.
This is roughly about 24km away and its actually on the outskirts of Patthalung.
It  boasts of a "beach" area on the lakeside, which to me, was worth checking out.
But the Sun is already above our heads and the heat was slowly scorching the road.
Along the way, we encountered a foreigner on a road bike working his way to Thale Noi.
We suspected that he came from Patthalung and said "Hello" him. Fit as a fiddle, the man disappeared into the horizon.
At this point, I saw Michelle struggling and overtook her.
I don't know what possessed me as I cranked my pedals really hard, averaging at 20-21km/h.
The bunch was falling behind and from my rear mirror, I can see a pale dot.
My plan was to find a petrol station with a coffee shop and some free wi-fi.
But man, I was wrong.
The one thing that kept me going was the fact that I had some ice in my water bottle and that roast pork and chicken koay teow really gave me that turbo boost in terms of energy.
I was cycling like a bat out of hell until Michelle rang her bicycle bell, signalling for me to stop so that the gang could regroup.
Slowly, we progressed to Ban Lam Pam and found a shop selling refreshments.
I can see that Andrew was completely exhausted.
He said he had little sleep because his room was invaded by mosquitoes.
I could only symphatise.
A lady who runs the shop offered Michelle some local sour fruit. 
We chilled out there a bit and decided to check out Ban Lam Pam.

The boss, cooling off..

Bicycles allowed
Ban Lam Pam
A puppy at the Lam Pam park
Rolling out of Ban Lam Pam
Phattalung in the horizon

We weren't far from reaching Phattalung town.
I have never been to this part of Southern Thailand and relied heavily on Roger's intel of the area.
In the mid-day heat, we cycled into town, the first thing we noticed was the railway station.
This is our ticket to Hat Yai.
The plan was to terminate the tour in Phattalung, then take the train to Hat Yai where we will have a decent break before boarding the Senandung Langkawi coach back to KL Sentral.
As the day became hotter, we checked out two hotels in town and settled for one which is centrally-located.
The rates were 380 baht and we simply couldn't complain. The rooms were clean and decent.
After checking-in, we went out for a hearty lunch and bought some supplies.

Route 4047 to Phattalung
Khao Kha Moo
During lunch, we talked about the journey and I can clearly see that Andrew was really tired.
After that, we walked in town and purchased some drinking water.
Roger and Andrew decided to head back to their rooms for some rest while Michelle and I took a walking tour of town.
We ended up at Swensen's ice-cream parlour for a treat.
Later in the day, we cycled out again where Roger had showed me the road leading to Highway 4 linking this town to Hat Yai which is roughly about 95km away.
We had dinner at a nearby restaurant later.

The touring experience will not be complete without some chilled beers!
Calling it a day..

After dinner, we cycled back to the hotel, parked the bikes in our rooms and walked down to the 7-Eleven convenience store.
It was Roger's treat and he bought some Singha beers.
We later chilled out in his rooms to split the day's expenses and talked a bit about the next day's plan.
After a good fill, we retired to our rooms.
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