Thursday, April 24, 2014

ToST III - Part 7

The journey to Hat Yai..

We've had a great time in Songkhla. 
This time, we had a proper and working air-conditioning and great food.
We met up at the motel yard and prepared the bikes for its journey to Hat Yai, which is roughly about 40km away.
The plan was to have breakfast and we discovered that there is a road parallel to Songkhla's route 407. 
This inner road exits at the 408 intersection and while we were cycling to look for food, we found a Chicken rice shop and decided to have our makan there.
It turned out that the owner had worked in Japan for 10 years and spoke fluent Japanese. He tried to strike a conversation with Sin Tai Lim and it was quite amusing.
And on the quality of food, I must say that this shop has one of the best chicken rice around Songkhla.
During our stay in Songkhla, we discovered a few good eating places and the usage of a bicycle had opened up plenty of avenues for sight-seeing. You won't be able to see such places if you drive or in a tour group.
After the good fill, we rode down the 407 and began our journey towards Hat Yai on the 408.

Dawn in Songkhla


The chicken rice stall

A decent breakfast
Helmet failures.. 
First puncture..

Mid-way down the road towards the 408, Michelle said her rear tire felt funny.
I told her to pull over and checked the pressure. 
It was slowly leaking air.
On the Dahon Speed TR, you would need a special tool to remove the nuts that is holding the wheels on the fork.
This is a tedious affair and it's very time consuming.
I removed the wheel and took out the inner tube. Felt around and found a piece of wire that pierced the outer wall.
There were pebbles and glass fragments embedded on the tire wall, but this was not enough to go through the puncture-protected layer.
In my humble opinion, the Schwalbe Big Apple tires are the best touring wheels around. You can't ask for more. Although it rolls rather slow, the Big Apples would get you there and back.
I set in a new inner tube, inflated it with my Biologic seatpost pump and we were on our way.
The one thing that annoyed me was the fact that some of the guys went out on their own and were waiting some five kilometers away.
I was also quite pissed off when they made no effort to call us with the Thai cellphone line.
Lucky for us, we located them at a coffee shop, chilling out from the heat.
All of them were having their brew, I walked off and got myself an iced coffee from a stall at the end of the row.

Fixing the flat
Resuming the journey
Into Hat Yai...

We were cycling on the 408 and on the other side of the road, the landscape was totally alien to me. 
It took me a while to realize that we were cycling on the same route when we did the ToST I last year. 
There were a couple of rolling hills along the way and this was no issue as we maintained our speed at 13km/h and slowly climbed and rolled down towards the junction leading to Hat Yai's city centre.
At mid-day, the sun was up and it was getting really hot.
After taking a right turn towards the Sena Narong Military Hospital and Route 4 leading to Hat Yai's Big C hypermarket.
From there, Pat led the way and got lost. I seriously didn't know what the hell he was doing, cycling in circles.
We made our way towards Niphat Uthit Road 1 and found a Vespa dealership that also sells bicycles.
Here, we met the owner Khun Paul who was nice enough to talk to us. The guys spent some of their Thai baht here by purchasing some bike gear.
I bought two Blackburn lights and the most decent find was a Blackburn Super Flea. This was a score as it's not available in Malaysia.
We also installed a double kickstand that cost us about 650 baht (RM65).
I was quite annoyed by one of the store clerk when she demanded my full name and phone number. 
For the kickstand, I paid her with coins and made her count every single shilling.

An advertisement for the Songkran festival in Hat Yai

Leaving Songkhla
Rolling into Hat Yai
Pat, leading us nowhere.. 
Every Baht counts.. 

Installing the double kickstand

At the Vespa dealership

With Khun Paul at the bicycle shop
Bicycles, bicycles, bicycles...

After checking-in at the hotel, we visited another bike shop in the downtown area.
This was the trendiest store in town, and also the worse bike service dealership.
We met the owner last year, but he couldn't recall ever seeing us.
Michelle said she was annoyed with the fact that the guy was completely oblivious to our presence and the fact that we spent so much money shopping at the store.
"What an ass! Stupid businessman..," she said.
I wasn't really bothered with the guy's business model. We didn't spend at all and as the day became hotter, Pat decided to leave his bike for service, something which he had regretted.
The shop specializes in Surly bikes, but the quality of their service really sucks as Pat had his bike returned with a double puncture. It seems that the moron who tuned his bike had fucked up the rim tap in the wheels.
We continued riding around Hat Yai and decided to get back to our rooms for some rest.
The guys went out on their own and we met up for dinner later in the day.

At the trendy bikes store downtown..

Sin, with a girl who works at the Roasted pork shop
You can't separate Pat from good food!
Dinner at the Elephant restaurant.. 
A hundred and two bottles of beer throughout the tour!
We had dinner at the usual Elephant hot pot restaurant.
Sin made the order and we splurged on the good food and beers.
Our beer consumption had totaled to 102 bottles throughout the journey and after a good fill, we staggered back to our rooms to get a good night's sleep..

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