Day 1: Rangsit – Ayutthaya (51 km)
Stepped off the train around 8:30am and found a side street to finish the last final tweaks to our bikes before putting pedals in motion. It was already hot, like 32 degrees before 9am. A few whoops and ear to ear grins and we were off heading north along a poker straight local road that runs parallel to the train line all the way until Bang Pa-in. After about 10km we stopped off for our first roadside breakfast and effort to communicate with good humour but without common language. A pretty and straightforward stretch with a very decent road and a 7-11 closer to the Bang Pa-in junction. We took respite from the midday heat at a Wat somewhere along the way. Change roads and head right through Bang Pa-in and just keep going until you hit Ayutthaya. There are no photos to capture the sweaty, dirty and hysterically laughing mess we were in at the end of Day 1. I better get fit fast.
Day 2: Ayutthaya – nr Pho Tong (52km)
Headed north out of the city on a semi busy highway and kept going over the junction for the 347 Thanon Asia main highway. An open, straight and wide stretch of paddy fields along tarmac and running parallel to the river. Within a few km we came across Chai, a fellow tourer heading the other direction. Chai is Malaysian and is heading home after touring China, Myanmar, Laos and Thailand. Language barriers and eagerness to get going stopped mor conversation but his advice was ominous, “Enjoy tired legs.”
Kept going straight before stopping for lunch in the small Thai town that epitomises small Thai towns of Ang Thong where we successfully learnt the essential words for rice and toilet and stocked up in the glorious air conditioned delights of a 7-11. Tried not to fall asleep and pushed on for another 15km or so before spotting a sign for Bang Chao Tourist Village and pulling in for advice on accommodation.
Here we had the good fortune to meet Nang who would escort us to a homestay and spend much of the following evening desperately try and form a conversation using only her sincere enthusiasm and our ‘Learn Thai’ iphone app. Something to do with a peanut, two eggs and a pregnant woman. She actually brought popcorn, sat down and just watched us.
The homestay was very cheap and decent in a beautiful village definitely worth staying in. Note Nang’s ‘Bike For Dad t-shirt’ to commemorate the King of Thailand’s birthday the following day (see other pic).
Day 3: Pho Tong – Sankhaburi (60km)
More straight road ahead (just keep following the river) and several ice coffee cans later and we were in our stride. Thankful for cloudy skies today that really took the oomph out of the sun and made for a much more relaxing journey through sugar cane plantations and more waving at strangers. There are food stops and 7-11s very often on this easy stretch.
Best lunch so far by miles at the biggest restaurant we could see in Ban Channasut where things were done with peanuts I never imagined. Just kept going, kept going through a challenging headwind until hitting Sankhaburi expecting a tiny nowhere place and struggling to find a guesthouse. We stopped at a petrol station to ask for ‘homestay’ and seeing our clear lack of understanding of directions two women hopped on their motorbike and escorted us at least 5km to a resort of sorts just on the edge of the very charming Sankhaburi town. Tried to find “I love you” in my phrase book but was too slow before they drove off. Thai hospitality is the BEST. We nearly cried with joy when we turned up here.
Day 4: Sankhaburi – Uthai Thani (58km inc wrong way)
A refreshing breakfast of three slices of bread and marmite, milk, half a pineapple each, a yoghurt, half a bag of peanuts and two cups of tea and we were off.
Some of the cutest road so far if you head out of the town on the local roads that hug the river on your right. All colours of the rainbow used on painted houses, fishing and very friendly and surprised faces for about up to an hour before the quiet roads end as you have to enter the highway and head left towards Chai Nat.
Then it’s more of the same following the road north parallel to the river and avoiding the main highway but unfortunately we missed the small junction on the right that allows you to hug the river (just before Chai Nat and just after the bridge for 340 highway) and got stuck on a fairly busy and uneventful main road all the way until Uthai Thani. It would have been less eventful if I had not gone left instead of right one one of the junctions before Wat Sing and added 10km to my travels. Made up for boring road by pushing my legs and hitting 30km an hour at one point. Finally caught up with Olga with a very red face in Wat Sing for lunch, coffee and wifi at an Amazon Cafe by the last petrol station in town.
Kicked off again and just keep going until you hit the cute river side town of Uthai Thani. Tried a couple of out of town hotels (a new and not attractive from outside one beginning with K but good rooms) and an overpriced resort with a skanky overprices room before settling for a hotel modelling itself on 1984 or Clockwork Orange for an 8:30pm sleep. Last foreigner (farang) to check in was in October. Very pretty town by the river that is worth visiting.
Day 5: Uthai Thani – Nakhon Sawan (42km)
By this point 42km didn’t feel a stretch at all and so the day passed heading north and slightly east on more tarmaced and straight roads to Nakhon Sawan. Uneventful views compensated by me being a melon and getting my foot stuck in my pedal strap and therefore my pedal stuck in my leg and falling off twice. A nastyish gash, reducing some of the weight of my first aid kit and about ten people trying to stop and help and we were off again.
Lunch and a few snacks at a couple of roadside stops and some more paddy fields before arriving in the industrial feeling barrenness of Nakhon Sawan. On first glance, not impressed, but fortunately the hotel had the good sense to create a haven of beautiful yellow flowers, shade and hospitality that made you forget you were actually in the Slough/Milton Keynes equivalent of Thailand.
Day 6: REST DAY
Basically sat on high speed wifi and went for thai massage all day. Oh my god did it hurt good after the first week of touring. Nakhon Sawan itself is not a pleasant town with loads of highways everywhere. Highlight was being amused at how the park in the centre of town is so conformist that cyclists have to go one way and runners have to go another.