Day 118 – Lamae to Palian (338 km)
Last night was actually the first time that we had slept right at the East coast of a country, so with this one chance to see the dawn, we woke up at 5:30 and headed down to the beach (literally a journey of 20 steps). The sky was still the colour of a dark bruise, but gradually lighted, catching the clouds in a magnificent display of colours. The sun finally peered over the horizon just after 6:00, giving us the signal to head back to grab another hour’s sleep.
We were up again for breakfast about an hour later, with bacon on the plate for the first time since we’ve been on the road. Once we’d finished up, we were soon packed and ready to go, and the manager escorted us out onto the highway on his bike. It had been a really great stay, just another reason to sometimes leave the guide books and internet forums behind and just look for a place yourself.
The riding in the morning was pretty easy, with thick jungle on either side for most of the way, and the occasional hill rising vertically from the jungle, its sheer sides and thickly covered top making it seem like a giant had simply shoved up a wedge of the land from underneath.
Around mid morning, as we were riding along at about 110 km/h, Shan turned her head to look at something at the side of the road. As she did, the front visor caught the wind, and one of the mounting points ripped off completely, leaving Shan to be blinded and mildly throttled by the strap as the helmet fought to pull itself off her head. We quickly pulled over, and I went back to pick up the part that had flown onto the road. A thorough inspection revealed that it was pretty easy to fix, and John soon McGuyvered it back into full working order.
Which was when we noticed that one of the mountings on Shan’s new hybrid shock absorbers had broken.
Now, this is not a catastrophe, and what we needed to find now was a welder who could stitch it all back into shape. We had pulled over next to the gate of a big factory complex, and so we thought we might as well see if there was anybody there who could help us. As it turned out, we hit the jackpot. Just inside the gates, Dad and Shan came across two guys busy doing some serious welding. When we brought the bike over to them, they could quickly see what needed to be done, and once we had the wheel off, they happily set to work fixing it. While they worked, two little kids sat watching the whole thing. Shan entertained them by letting them play with the camera. When the guys were done, they wouldn’t even accept payment, but just waved us on our way.
Continuing on our way, we passed through some of the larger towns, and while waiting for Dad to get through a traffic light, we noticed that we had stopped right under the sign of a Kawasaki dealership, the first that we had seen since leaving South Africa. For an Asian bike, Kawasaki’s have been surprisingly scarce.
Around the middle of the afternoon, we finally arrived at the Palian peninsula, where we started looking around for accommodation. I had been particularly keen to see some of the islands in Thailand made famous by innumerable movies, and this area had looked like our best chance of seeing some. While driving along, we startled a large monitor lizard, at least a metre long, which scuttled off into the bushes.
When we got to the road running along next to the coast, we saw a decent looking hotel and stopped to enquire about rooms. Kath took it for the team and went with the manager, who took her on a tour that lasted about 15 minutes, and had her back to the bikes muttering under her breath. Meanwhile, Shan and Dad had taken the bike further up the road to look at a second option, which was cheaper, but not quite as nice, and required some serious Pictionary skills to be able to communicate. Somehow, the guy didn’t even understand when we were asking for the price, apparently stumbling over the sign for baht, the Thai currency. In the end, the deciding element was the swimming pool, and we settled into our nicer, only slightly more expensive option.
After dumping our bags in the room, we made straight for the pool, and floated lazily around for almost an hour, while in the pool next door, four foot aquatic monstrosities lurked in the murky depths. Over the edge of the pool, we could make out limestone islands rising straight out of the sea, picture perfect.
After heading back to the rooms to relax for a while, we decided to take a walk down to the pier, a few hundred metres further down the road, to see if we could find some food. We arrived just as the sun was about to set, and while we enjoyed a meal of kebabs, and salad, we watched as the sun and the clouds created whole landscapes in the sky, even tricking us for about fifteen minutes into thinking that there was a pyramid shaped island in the distance. Unfortunately, with the dark came the mosquitoes, and we beat a hasty retreat back to hotel.
John hadn’t eaten with us, and so he went to the hotel restaurant to order some food, and I, basically a stomach on legs, decided to get a snack of cashew chicken. The lady who took our orders seemed to find herself incredibly hard done by, and would sign loudly and disconsolately at each enquiry into the menu. Due to some confusion, John ended up getting both a fish dish and a plate of chicken and rice, which we happily helped him to finish off, and the rest of the evening was spent playing darts and reading on the Kindle. Occasionally we would glance up to see faces at the window, looking to see if we were gone, so that they could lock up the restaurant. Finally, our feeling of guilt at keeping them from their sleep were to strong, and we made our way to our room to get some for ourselves.