a dead end at kra istmus
At first I understood it to be some sort of animal that was going to cause my skin untold discomfort, but as his explanation took on an altogether dramatic quality it became apparent that it was the flora as it increased in density that was going to flay me alive should I dare to venture beyond this creek. The fellow imparting this knowledge stood thigh deep in the mirky brown swirling water next to his motorcycle. I was unsure from his mimed explanation whether he was washing the machine or if, during an attempt to ford the river, he and the machine had parted company and the motorbike had become submerged. I suspected the latter to be the case, but he seemed jolly enough about it all as he went into an even more elaborate explanation of the horrors that lay beyond where he stood. To be honest I was relieved that he had given me what I considered to be good reason to go no further, for I feared crocodiles may lay in wait for me. I wished him well with washing/drying his machine and with any reptiles that may lurk in the mire and turned tail and fled.
This alas dashed my hopes of finding a definitive route along the east coast of peninsula Thailand without using the Asia Highway. At the southern end of my route I have managed to reduce the distance on the highway from the twenty-five kilometres mentioned in the itinerary to just six. I had hoped this would be all that would be necessary but here, at the Kra of Istmus – Thailand’s narrowest point – I would have to concede defeat and take to the highway for a further three kilometres. The irony of it is that it is a national park that blocks the way.
From the sea to the national highway is just a few kilometres east to west and I have now scoured every possible path trail and track leading from south to north, all to no avail. Without a machete one simply has to nip out onto the Asia Highway.
I have navigated a route behind an army base, around a national science park and even through an airbase where,in true Thai style, I had a bowl of noodle soup and drank a bottle of beer on the beach as the sun drew the day to a conclusion. But it was the national park, an area supposedly there to give the public access to the countryside that denied me access to the countryside. Having said this it was a wonderful few days of exploration and so far as the Thailand Winter Escape Tour is concerned I feel my journey has been a great success. The route I have devised takes in a wonderful combination of top class tarmac roads, narrow hard packed single track, red dirt roads winding through coconut plantations, a stretch of costal trail, narrow concrete roads winding through palm groves, seaside towns, fishing villages, an airbase with a beautiful bay and a crescent beach and a few wonderful kilometres of the Asia Highway
My objective over the past ten days has been to reduce the necessary kilometres of National Highway to an absolute minimum. It has taken an extra two hundred kilometres of investigative cycling to reduce this to two sections of just six kilometres at the southern end and three at the north. Those 200KMS have been great fun and have given me an even deeper insight into Thailand and the wonderful nature of the Thai people away from the tourist hotspots.
If you are looking for a holiday to see the Thailand your friends visit on holiday, if you want to experience what 99% of Westerners experience when they visit Thailand, then this tour is not for you. But if by chance you are looking to see the Thailand that is still the land of smiles, where Thais are friendly and open and interested in why you are travelling through their country, then the seat of a bicycle (I think this is called the saddle) is the way to go and this tour could well be for you.
Now, if only I can recall the route come February. (Only joking Mr Hoskins)