Wonderful beaches, friendly people, quiet roads, excellent food, cheap accommodation and supertarmac Thailand has it all. It is a very different country to Laos, even the cars drive on the other side of the road. We crossed the friendship bridge across the Mekong into Nong Khia. Unfortunately we were still recovering from the flu we caught in Vientiane and were not fit enough to cycle very far. We decided to head for a beach and take some time to recuperate.
We caught the excellent sleeper from Nong Khai to Bangkok 1st class for £20 then cycled across the city to the bus station and a bus to Trat on the far Eastern coast of Thailand. We were heading for the island of Koh Kood . Still relatively unspoilt and rather hilly, we spent a week recuperating on a beautiful beach.
The nights in our little cabin were somewhat disturbed by a noisy house lizard who lived in a hole in the wall coming out at night and “singing” very loudly. The beaches were superb and the water clear with plenty of fish to see amongst the rocks.
After a week we started heading west along the coast mainly on quiet roads. Some with bike lanes and along designated scenic roads. The coast was quiet and the resorts low key until we reached Rayong where things started getting busy. It was getting hotter with temperatures in the mid 30s by midday. So we started hitting the road by 6 to try and avoid the worst of the heat. There are plenty of 7 elevens in the towns and so it was easy to fuel up en route.
From Rayong we caught a minibus the 200km into Bangkok and headed across the city again to the train station. Cycling across Bangkok was not too bad as there is so much traffic it moves slowly and there are plenty of mopeds around that the cars have to watch out for. We caught the train to Petchaburi about 170km south west of Bangkok. We planned to head down the coast towards Phuket.
The eastern gulf coast south of Hua Hin was very quiet. There was a scattering of resorts but most appeared empty. The beaches were deserted and the roads still excellent. The towns became less touristy with few expats around. We had to do a few stretches on Phetkasem road route 4 the major highway heading south from Bangkok. We were surprised at how quiet it was, it had a broad shoulder and good surface.
We were staying in the occasional resort after a bit of negotiation on prices and cheap hotels in the towns. We stopped off at Kra Buri to stay at the Panneka resort run by the super enthusiastic Aungkana already a legend for touring cyclists in Thailand.
The Andaman coast of Thailand was hillier and bordered by mangroves. It had been hit hardest by the Tsunami and there were areas that still hadn’t recovered, with deserted beaches and very quiet coastal villages. The roads only became busy 50km north of Khao Lak.
The islands in the Andaman sea are one of the best places in Thailand to go diving. So I left Pip on the mainland and did a couple of courses exploring Koh Ha Ha, Pi Pi and the Similan islands. The pictures are courtesy of James Hoyland Blue Planet Diving Koh Lanta.