It was not before early in the morning that the pump’s engine stopped, which pushed water from the main channel into one of the side arms to supply the surrounding fish ponds. The monotonous chug accompanied the sleep, which was difficult and intermittent in the unusual warmth. Nevertheless, we start from the Chai Khlong Resort somewhat rested at around 28°C and a slightly hazy view in the morning. In order to avoid the wide trunk road and above all the construction site there, we soon drive on a narrow side route through fresh green rice fields and after less than 2 kilometers we meet two older women on packed touring bikes exactly on the top of a small canal bridge. Two cycling enthusiasts from Amsterdam who have been traveling through Thailand for about 8 weeks, and not for the first time, as they say.
Shortly after this chance encounter, we stop at a small street restaurant for breakfast. At least that is our wish. The friendly cook is already cleaning up, but she also means that we can get something to eat and then makes two portions of a delicious rice pan with vegetables and shrimps. A good start into the very hot day in the early morning, and since we only want to drive to Chachoengsao today, we then roll leisurely through the flat landscape, in which rice fields and dry wasteland alternate. Here, too, mobile pumps in some fields provide water distribution from a larger channel that runs parallel to the road into the branch channels that run along the fields. Many herons lurk on these channels for apparently abundant prey in the water. Storks sail across the landscape and sometimes land clumsily on the coconut palms.
The landscape is also a little dominated by the many Buddhist monasteries, which are never arranged in the same way and sometimes lie directly on the street, but sometimes also clearly apart. So I had classified the singing song, which was suddenly perceptible from an indefinite direction, as coming from one of the monasteries. But it had nothing in common with the monotone chanting of the monks and when coming closer, Arabic fragments could be heard in the singing of a male voice. A muezzin from one of the four mosques, also located in this area west of Chachoengsao, who does not call for prayer in the morning, but apparently prays down the entire Koran singing, or better: sings into the area via a distributed network of loudspeakers.
We roll right past a Koran school, the mosques are a bit off the side street and not even 10 km apart, as I will see later on the map. An interesting change in the otherwise very Buddhist dominated Thailand, and if I look closely, some of the young women in this area also wear long headscarves that cover their necks, as women in Malaysia or Indonesia do.
Later in the evening we also hear the actually very monotonous chant of the Buddhist monks who celebrate their kind of prayer in the ‘Wat Sothon Wraram Wohawiran’, a monastery with a large temple complex, which is within walking distance of our accommodation in this city. This temple is obviously very popular with the locals and is full of visitors in the afternoon, as we drive past on the way to the guesthouse where we are staying.
In Chachoengsao we need three attempts to find a room because the first two favorites are already fully booked. I would not have expected that, but this way we come to a corner of the city where this temple district and a small night market adjoining it attract people. On the opposite market we have noodle soup made with seafood in one of the restaurants for a late lunch.
On Sunday we set off early in Chachoengsao, only have a quick breakfast of two toasts to have anything in the stomach, but then we are stuck in traffic for a while because the cars in front of the temple area, which was already well visited yesterday, go in both directions today queue for a long distance to get to the parking lots on the premises. Although they offer a lot of space, we had seen that yesterday on a tour of the extensive grounds, but the access is cumbersome and with such a rush a bottleneck. After about 10 minutes we are past it and roll quickly out of the city at 28°C in the morning. We drive a few kilometers south on the edge of the six-lane 314 and quickly branch off onto smaller connecting roads, which are also flat but not so straight any longer through former swamp areas on the Bang Pakong River.
After about 18 km, as ordered, open but covered and directly above a larger fish pond, there is a friendly restaurant, where we get a noodle soup with fish (who cares?). Finally some iced coffee and the rest of the day is going so well again.
The easier, straightforward route to the coastal areas north of Pattaya would have meant a much shorter route, but these 4- or 6-lane trunk roads also mean a lot of stress due to the permanent traffic with a high percentage of trucks. We drive here a much longer but much more varied route, which always leads to and from one or the other wide road and along it, but also has less traffic and also offers a lot more insights into the country. After 71 kilometers, we still arrive quite early in the afternoon at our destination for today Bang Saen.