25 February 2012
Today is a pleasant surprise of a ride, only marred a little by poor food planning.
It looks like I can make good distance south of Hua Hin without going on the highway, but I have to give up once the road starts petering out in new housing developments. Hua Hin's clearly going to grow, likely mainly as a retirement destination for well-off Westerners.
The innumerable villa/resort/residences I've seen advertised seem to start around GBP40k and go up to about 5 times that amount. Probably not a bad investment if you could rely upon controlled surrounding development, a decent management company and a stable government. I'd say zero for three is the likely score on those requirements.
A source of amusement has been the tacky names these developments get given. My favourites: Sea-Cret; Let's Sea.
Once I get off the highway on road 1020, the ride's a pleasant pootle along the coast, most of the time within a couple of kilometres of the sea, and often flanked by salt marsh or lagoon.
On road 4020, at just under 50km, I get stopped at a national park barrier. I had no idea there even was a national park. I tell the guard I'm just passing through and he waves me on. The park seems to be centred on some limestone karst. I see signs for a few caves, a beach, and a lookout point, but I don't think I'm missing much. Riding through the karst is beautiful, however. At one point there are signs saying not to feed the monkeys - around the corner there's a troop - I startle one that is crossing the road.
I have to return to the highway at a place called Bo Nok. I'm hoping for a petrol station with attached 7-11 so I can have a snack refuel - it's not to be. I turn off the highway onto road 1047, which adds a few kilometres to my journey, but takes me nearer the shore. Unfortunately, the surface is pretty shoddy in places and my average speed starts to fall.
I've got just over 100km on the clock when I stop for pork fried rice in Ban Ao Noi. I wash it down with a Coke and start coming back to life.
As I'm leaving the restaurant, the dog, which has already had a sniff about me, and has seen me not robbing the place and not hurting anyone, suddenly loses it as I start to pedal. I'm convinced all over again that dogs are stupid, and think this might a matter I agree with the Vietnamese on: cramped cage, butcher, table.
It's only a couple of kilometres later I enter Prachuap Bay. Wow, this is the real deal. It's a wide sweeping arc of sand, several kilometres long, with karst poking out at either end. Wooden fishing boats are moored here and there. The beach is empty. I see a lone windsurfer.
I'm heading for my planned hotel when I see a tuk-tuk with an ad for a place that sounds very backpacker-y. I decide to ride around and look for it. It takes me all of two minutes, as it's just around the corner and well-signposted. I get a tiny basic room and promptly fall asleep.
113km, 22.9km/h, 4hr56min, 6306km