The coast of the Gulf of Thailand is now far away, the landscape has changed a lot, only the hot climate has remained. However, the first night on the edge of a low mountain range similar to yesterday was a bit cooler than the nights by the sea, even if we were only about 240 meters high, about 50 km north of Chantaburi. The climb at the end of today’s stage on the hot afternoon was pretty hard, because even if the temperature now drops to 25°C at night, it is still 33°C – 35°C in the shade in the afternoon – with almost permanent sunshine. The rather loose cloud cover doesn’t change that much. That’s why I add short breaks from time to time so as not to neglect drinking water, and on this ramp of 6 – 9% gradient we could even do this in the shadow of a wandering Buddha.
The route lengths are now between 60 and 100 km and because of a tire damage to Maik’s bike, I rescheduled the stages a bit so that we had enough time in Chantaburi to get help from a bike dealer there. A nice young man, who, however, had more in mind of his just arriving delivery of new goods than some things from Maik’s bike that we had to look for in his shop after the repair. North of this provincial town, along the smaller country roads, there are many small settlements that more or less merge into one another; rubber tree plantations and also small plantations of oil palms are occasionally seen. The little bit of agriculture along the coast hardly caught my eye; Cassava is grown there, sometimes pineapple. Rather, we had to cross a large chemical and oil processing plant west of Rayong, which apparently manages the oil supply for part of the country.
From Phala Beach, the road led almost straight at a short distance parallel to the coast and to the chemical or refinery facilities, which could already be seen in the distance from the local beach. The shortest way to get past it is going through it, and even if it is a complex on the area of a small town, after less than half an hour this area was behind us again. In the subsequent suburbs of Rayong, this picture was quickly forgotten. Instead, village flair with the usual shops, street vendors – an open barber shop. The young lady patiently presents herself with the boy’s cut in her chair. It is more of a coincidence that I stop for a drink in the shade directly opposite her shop.
You drive into Rayong, similarly as between Chonburi and Pattaya, through slowly getting denser commercial and residential buildings. Tourists hardly get lost in this region, at most outside of Rayong, further east of this somewhat larger provincial town, and of course rather near the coast. Rayong itself is a few kilometers north of the sea. There is a large market with sometimes chaotic delivery traffic, as in other cities. And the post office there was easy to find.
The beaches further east are already much more lonely than they were in the Pattaya area and even in Phala. In spite of the traffic that is always there, of course, it is great to cycle there, and it is nowhere near as stressful as in the major tourist resorts. Along the Lan Hin Khao beach there are colorful, small fishing boats on the beach and many small improvised restaurants under palm trees offer crabs, prawns, sea snails and other mollusks. Before you can look at them in large aquariums. This is nothing for me, but the demand seems to be high.
From Ban Phe, near which we paused a day, there are also regular ferries to Ko Samet Island. There you can meet for overwinterers from Europe or retirees who spend the whole of their retirement in Thailand, e.g. a friendly Swiss, formerly a chef, who has been living in the country with his Thai partner for 7 years, on this secluded stretch of coast now for 2 years.
In the Bay of Klaeng, at Ban Pak Nam Prasae, not only does a broad river flow into the sea, on the banks of which there is a picturesque fishing village with at least as many trawlers as residents, the area is also a vast wetland where mangroves grow and apparently over a large area are also replanted. In a restaurant on the river bank, where there is delicious fish soup, the spirits of the seafarers are given a friendly attitude with food donations, just like the spirits who are everywhere in this country – an interesting facet
Then someone suddenly burns fireworks on a monastery site near the restaurant, because the Chinese New Year is just around the corner. What a hell noise – from time to time we had heard something like that, but it was always difficult to assign and somewhere far away.
But we will soon leave the coastal area, Chantaburi is about 10 km inland in hilly terrain and from there we went temporarily into the mountains today. In Ban Nam Ron, after the effort, we now sit briefly in a café, which is attached to the large petrol station at the intersection there, and drink iced coffee. The place is not big, but there is at least a decent motel and there we surprisingly meet another Berliner – by bike – we call him Günter. He left his previous life as a BVG bus driver behind and now spends the winter in Thailand. However, he is traveling in the opposite direction and wants to drive further south via Bangkok.