The last two days I drove across the narrow country, from Krabi up to the east coast of Thailand. From the big city, I first went back to National Route 4. Krabi is located just a few kilometers away from this long-distance connection, which ultimately leads up to Bangkok. Just a short distance on this broad road to the junction towards Wat Tham Sua, a Buddhist temple, the founder of which is said to have lived here in a cave with a tiger – Tiger Cave Temple. It is the largest temple complex I have seen, so far.
Then I come through one of the most scenic areas in the country, with little traffic on the narrow side street, which, however, already leads to a heavily used country road after about 15 kilometers. The bizarre karst mountains stretch like a ribbon to the north and the road initially follows them, winds along them.
Here I meet a Frenchman who can be recognized from afar with his fluttering safety vest. An elderly gentleman, retired as he says for a year, who uses his time to cycle across Asia. He comes to Thailand from Bangladesh via Myanmar, is not here for the first time and wants to take a closer look at some things now that he has time. He probably doesn’t have a lot of opportunity to communicate in his native language in this region of the world, so we talk for about a quarter of an hour before everyone goes on his way again.
I also learn from him that there was a bomb explosion somewhere in south-east Thailand a few days earlier, which may also explain the increased presence of armed police that I had seen twice during roadside checks further south-west.
The landscape becomes mountainous for a few kilometers, whereby four climbs demand a lot of power, as they are quite steep with a gradient of up to 10%. After 35 km I take a lunch break in the slightly larger town of Kao Phanom in a restaurant that is run by three women. They prepare noodles with seafood and vegetables fresh in the wok. I drink iced coffee. A combination that I can get used to.
The fact that there is only rice as the basis for a dish in such a simple restaurant has become rare. Most of the time, the cooks have several types of pasta in their display case, where I, as a customer, can see directly what is on offer. Thin glass noodles, or broadly rolled glass noodles, or soaked, yellowish soup noodles e.g.. Rice is always available, but not without alternatives
After about 50 kilometers, the landscape becomes flatter again, the karst mountains have now disappeared from view. Rubber trees and oil palms interact in larger plantations in a still undulating landscape. Over the course of the afternoon, the sky will cloud over without starting to rain. Until I arrive in Phrasaeng in the late afternoon, the sky is almost completely blue again. A nice day.
I can only find the motel available in town with the help of local residents, as there are no Latin-language references. The rooms there are very simple, but the Pontip Motel is far enough away from the street and tired as I am, I sleep quite well there.
For breakfast the next morning I look for a small restaurant in Phrasaeng, where there is no business yet, but the two women working there are already far away with their preparation. It doesn’t take long for me to have a portion of pasta with vegetables and seafood on the table. They cann’t offer any coffee, but I can find it later on the way.
Route 4133, which leads further to the north, becomes wavy right from the start, just like the terrain itself. Gone are the karst mountains, it is a green, undulating landscape, through which the road now runs almost straight to the north, and it takes the waves, as they come. For me this means an uphill and downhill in a recurring sequence that brings me overacidified thigh muscles relatively quickly. The sun is laughing from the top of my neck at 32° in the shade and still high humidity. Being sweaty has become a permanent condition. It had cooled down a bit last night, but with the condensing humidity, none of my clothes hanging out from under the canopy of the motel room got dry.
So I often take short breaks and drink a lot, but in the end I still progress at an average speed of 17 – 18 km/h, because where it goes slowly uphill, it goes downhill much faster afterwards. I only ‘move’ between 20 and 65 meters above sea level. In the meantime I see Buddhist monasteries or temple complexes on the street more and more often, mostly bordered with a wall.
I take a longer break after around 40 kilometers, ask for ice-cold coffee right away, because I always got it where it was cooked, but people just grin at me.
The small restaurant at a village crossroad is run by a friendly couple and overall they are quite surprised by my visit. But are happy about the apparently rare event, let me choose what I would like to have cooked and the wok gets work quickly. Another guest, who speaks some English, is listening to me about my trip and takes a short trip to get me a small can of an ice-cold mixed coffee drink. 15 baht – he says and also gives me a bag with a sandwich and two bananas. That would be free of charge for me and maybe I could use it as provisions.
Later, when I say goodbye, the cook wants to be photographed with me and gives her smartphone to her daughter – so people are always nice.
In the late afternoon on the outskirts of Surat Thani I find a wonderfully quiet, small resort with row bungalows and an attached restaurant, so that I don’t have to go into the city, tired as I am during the day, after 88 kilometers.