After the excitement of yesterday it was a bit of a late start and no time to enjoy the beach… such are the trials of breaking a record a day at a time…
A bit more seaside riding then we turned inland to plantations of palm oil trees, and rubber trees with slashes in their bark and cups collecting the sap. Rejoining the main road it got a bit relentless, more traffic and not main enough to have regular 7elevens, but one did crop up eventually. Rejoining the highway we were able to get our heads down for the remaining miles.
Stores and stores selling durian fruit lined the road. We were aware of this super pungent fruit and it being banned from many public places (including our hotel tonight!) but had no idea it a was popular and grown and sold in such quantities.
Moving inland further tomorrow we keep heading down South.
Has not been the most exciting day… but we’re good with that!
It has been a “getting there” day, an “a to b” day, miles lost in millions of pedal strokes, every one feel but inevitably forgotten on the road behind.
It was hotter than the past few days and the heat added to the sense of incessancy, the heat beating down as the tyres roll on hot asphalt. The same food at the same 7elevens, the layout identical. We know instinctively where the drop curb for the wheelchairs will be, the side of the building to lean up the bike, ice creams on the left, cold drinks at the back, microwave food on the way to the till. Loos outside, ladies of course always right…
The thick swathes if palm oil plantations add to the repetition, similar to European conifer plantations and occasionally switch to equally regular rubber trees. Laura has almost made it to the finshers party on the @thetranscontinental podcasts, days late.
Finally the miles trickle down, a “trip around the lanes” left. A luxurious iced coffee in an air conditioned cafe instead of a luke warm cola on a bench and the usual last minute frantic directions to locate our lodgings. No restaurant tonight though, but after being chased by a pack of puppies (#worsethingshappenatsea) more 7eleven fare of exothermic self heating noodle may have been the most exciting thing that happened to us all day!
And (hopefully) our last full day in Thailand.
Sadly another day missing so much and riding past signs for tourists sites and attractions along the highway. Even 7eleven fare did little to raise our spirits with another solidly tough day on the road ignoring the sign for the beach.
It turns out bib shorts last 30days and Stevie’s are on the brink of demise leading to drastic action outside a 7eleven with a pair of scissors to try and double up the pad…not convinced by the outcome plenty sudocream has been used and there are 2 new pairs in Singapore courtesy of @huubdesign !
Thailand has been amazing: beautiful and peaceful compared to busy India and the people are just wonderful, so keen to help despite the language barrier and Thai smiles have followed us down the country. The food has been hit and miss due to our own ignorance but when it is good it is amazing.
And that one night on the beach we will never forget, a brief respite amongst a tough stint in our challenge.
Relieved to still be off the main highways of Thailand we enjoyed watching processions of school children along part closed roads in the morning. The celebration appeared to be Muslim as apposed to the prominent Buddhism we’ve seen throughout Thailand.
Taking some backroads through row upon row of rubber plantations we started to wend our way between large rocky outcrops and hill as the jungle crept in more and more. A great finale to Thailand and we got up into the hills and reached the Malaysian border. A very smooth crossing and then we were pretty much into the steepest climb we can remember since Europe with a number of switchbacks. Drenched in sweat and feeling like we’d conquered a mountain much higher than 1000ft we were treated to a proper descent through the jungle before emerging onto Malaysian roads.
Some things are very similar: paddy fields and cows but the roman script gives a sense of somewhere different. With the sun starting to dip behind the mountains we plumped for a mainstream looking hotel while we find our feet in country number 12!!
After a good night’s sleep and a great start for our first day in Malaysia we set off on quiet roads. The humidity created a misty atmosphere and we enjoyed a brief respite from the heat as it hung over the paddy fields.
A rather good early lunch/second breakfast and we had someone keeping a close eye on the tandem too (you’ll have to look really closely!)
The roads got busier as we neared Sungai Petani and Butterworth as Laura tried to adapt the routing on the go to keep things smooth…but to no avail! The bigger roads felt busy and frantic, smaller roads too many speed humps and some close passes from lorries and the minor roads turned out to be more minor than road! Stevie was not impressed 2 gravel sections! With missed turns and issues routing thrown in we were getting rather frazzled and unexpectedly and wonderfully we were passed cold drinks from locals on the road which certainly helped raise our spirits!
We had brief views of the misty mountains and harvested paddy fields with white storks but the roads remained busy whereever we were. Finally taking a major road we thought we might push through the final miles before dark… but set after set of traffic lights put paid to this idea and we rolled in late to our hotel.
The race for Singapore is on and we have another long day tomorrow!
A bit of a struggle to get started but better and less busy roads today made for a better pace. Some gentle rolling through acres and acres of palm oil plantations but with hints of more wildlife abundant near the coast with a sign for tapers crossing (not pictured) and monkeys sat on the fences and rusting the palm fronds as we passed. There is a mangrove reserve nearby but we couldn’t see it for the thick palm forest.
Having made good progress we treated ourselves to lunch at a roadside cafe and had a wonderfully warm welcome and plates if smoked slow cooked beef in a coconut sauce, beautiful vegetables and ric . We couldn’t quite believe it when they wouldn’t let us pay for the meal despite our insistences and it was such a wonderful gesture.
Feeling well fuelled we made good progress through the afternoon and pushed onwards hoping to be well-versed 120miles before we finished for the day. Having just pulled over for a last roadside stop we were on a fairly main but not too busy main road…
There was an impact from behind and yellow panniers went skidding down the road as we had thankfully soft landing in the ditch. The moped that hit us skidded to a stop down the road. Laura was rather winded and has a bad scuff on her elbow and Stevie a sore hand (and both bruised bums!) but we were lucky to be pretty much otherwise unscsthed and poor Stella the tandem had a bent derailieur hanger and a few other bits bent out if position but otherwise well. Our lovely erro panniers were another story though…both right side pannier ripped from their fittings.
The kids on the moped were a bit scuffed too but soon got up to ride off… but passers by stopped to help including one amazing lady who called her husband and got our panniers taken to the nearest hotel which we rolled slowly down the rod. She then got materials to clean and dress our scrapes and also bought us a massive kfc for dinner! We checked in with the medical support we have and decided there was nothing concerning enough to need to go to hospital but knew we would need the next day off to rest, recover and replan… there was no way we were getting to Singapore in three days!
Total mileage: 6643.9 miles
Mileage: 643.19 miles
Punctures: 0 just two destroyed panniers 🙄
Pizza: 3 slices 2 whole Domino’s