The longest ride will be today. Carbo loading before the ride was first on the agenda. We should fill the stomach first, unlike yesterday when breakfast was after a 30kms ride.
Before we rolled off, Suhaimi had another puncture. A second puncture for him. On this maiden ride, Suhaimi's learning curve is rather steep! My spare tube could not fit his sleek tyre. Luckily Fariz used the same tyre size and more importantly, had a spare to spare.
We set off, 9 Tuarers, slightly delayed from the promised time, as a result of the flat. Recumbent Foo decided to fast-track for this section. Today's ride would be the most exciting thus far - 137kms of road to grind. To add to the excitement, we could not find any halal stall when we stopped for lunch. And for lunch, we stopped at a petrol kiosk and welcomed the clean toilets. By the way, toilets in Thailand were clean. Malaysians must learn from our Thai counterparts - both as a user and as the owner (of toilets!)
While toilets were clean, there were no halal food at this stop. So I settled for instant noodle and soya bean to replenish the breakfast, rather light for the next 60kms ahead. By now, we had covered almost 80kms. The fast-tracked Recumbent Foo was nowhere in sight. Through SMS, Alauddin told us that Recumbent Foo was about 20kms ahead.
Side-tracking a bit, I had noticed and it gave me an impression that the Thais takes their weddings seriously. I had come across several shops elegantly displaying the wedding gowns. These views were not necessarily only in the towns, but along the roads and even in the smaller areas.
We must, of course gave credit to the Thais for their ingenuity and creativity and to a certain extent, the liberation of its traffic laws. I had travelled on Thai roads for many years, as far as the Burmese Border of Mae Sai. Inspite of the apparent lack of traffic enforcement, I had always felt safe.
Back on the road, the sky was threatening when we readied ourselves to continue the ride. We thus prepared for a wet ride. Rain covers on the panniers and the camera bag, but no rain coats for the body. Rain coats would be quite useless, and Tak Macho. The cheap ones would leave you sweating in the unbreathable material. Gore-tex materials would be ofcourse expensive.
It started to drizzle when when we rolled out. Wet patches from an earlier rain were evident on the road. Perhaps the rain had passed but dark clouds up ahead signalled a wet potential. Like children, the Tuarers will be playing in the rain, and enjoying the cool and cold ride.
About 20 kms after the lunch break, the dark clouds unleashed their reservoir and a heavy downpour greeted us. There was an initial uncertainty whether to seek shelter or to continue. I was glad the decision was to continue. So we ploughed on, literally. I wish I had a waterproof camera with me. The sight of the riders braving the rain would have been different than the sunny picures we had been taking. To add to the fun, we were climbing at one stretch in heavy rain and our speed were slowed down further by the rushing waters. With 2 climbing lanes for vehicles plus the generous bike lane, we had plenty of safety space between us and the climbing vehicles.
Siew Peng had a puncture in the rain. We found a shelter and husband Rambo KC did what he had to do for his beaut. Under the shed and the body not generating enough heat, the cold sets in. We were drenched to the bone (no la...actually to the skin)
At this puncture stop, we were only about 10 kms to our destination today, Trang. Well, we may be heading for Trang, but it sure was not bright and sunny!
With Siew Peng's bike done, we continued into the rain. We didn't realize that Siew Peng had another puncture not long after the first. The front group were in no time entering Trang town, heading towards the railway station, as advised by our Krabi friend Sufian. Both lodging and halal food could be found around the railway station area. I have overnighted in Trang once with my son Raqim and 3 other cyclists from Langkawi several years ago. Then, we cycled from Satun to Trang.
Passing by several Muslim stalls, the stomach juices started to churn. But first thing first. We looked for a hotel first. Looking back, first thing first should be, well, stomach first.
We stopped at the first hotel that came to our sight. Wendy, Florence and I checked out the rooms. Cheap rate at Baht 350 but with a price - smelly rooms. Wet and dirty as we were, we decided against it. So, Alauddin, Wendy, Florence and I voluntered to find another hotel. After cycling around the town for about 30 mins, we finally settled for Trang Hotel, Baht 530 twin-sharing.
I was feeling the bonk. So was Suhaimi, my room-mate. It was the longest ride, 137kms. It was the wettest. It was the coldest. Above all, it was the hungriest ride too! But again, first thing first. Clean up the wet mess of our panniers, hose down the body and cycling clothes of mud and soak in detergent.
That done, Fariz and Foo were also ready and fired up for food. Fariz suggested the murtabak stall he saw earlier. We didn't argue. We just walked to the place. However, too late for murtabak and too late to go to another place. Order what's available.
I can't help but noticed this rather confusing signboard across the road. I was wondering what business was this company really in. But then again, I recalled somwehere, "A business with no sign, is a sign of no business". This business owner had really stretched this concept far.
We headed back to the hotel after the late lunch-cum-dinner and never got out until tomorrow morning, for the trip to Ban Pak Bara
Distance : 137.4 km