22 February 2012
Bangkok's been the second stage of getting some rest and stability after so many kilometres. I spend my time running a few errands and eating, sleeping and rejigging my itinerary. Now it's time to get on the road again and actually start aiming at Singapore.
Getting out of the city is a bit of an effort, but no more so than it was getting in. I reach the edge of the city after some 30km, but it's difficult to say - urban sprawl par excellence.
Much of the day is grind on highway 35. I stop for a lunch of chicken curry (with bonus congealed pig blood cubes - mmmm) and tofu fried with beansprouts, on rice. It's a well timed stop, and the restaurant folk couldn't have been more helpful, trying to teach me the Thai for the stuff I've picked out.
The only visual diversion alongside the road is many large shallow pools used to extract salt. Simple windmills with fabric sails spin in the steady breeze. Stalls by the roadside are selling large (5kg?) bags of the coarse end product.
After around 90km, after first making a premature turn and then backtracking, I manage to get off the highway on a road signposted towards Cha-am Beach. The noise level drops immediately, but the surface is still good. Going south proper now, and unfortunately there's a headwind. I follow road 2021, which unceremoniously turns into road 3176 which rolls me into Phetchaburi.
Afternoon call to prayer betrays the location of a mosque before I see the green dome. As I head south, I can expect more Islam and less Buddhism, going from peaceful coexistence this far north, via Muslim insurgency in south Thailand, to a Muslim state in Malaysia. The curries will help me gauge the transition.
There's a massive bird's nest farm along this road. I've seen a handful of these outfits every day I've been in Thailand - they're concrete blocks several storeys high with small openings in the exterior walls. They play loud recordings of birdsong. The idea is that swallows nest inside the buildings - the product being sought is the bird saliva used to cement the nest together: it's an ingredient in the expensive Chinese delicacy bird's nest soup.
Approaching Phetchaburi, I feel pretty tired and can't stop yawning. I didn't sleep so well last night and it's been a long day in the sun. Finding the guesthouse is straightforward, and although the room's very lo-fi I take it and promptly conk out for a nap. Tomorrow's a much shorter day, likely to be followed by a rest day, so I'm not too concerned.
128km, 23.1km/h, 5hr33min, 6121km