We left the Grand Inn in Penang with plenty of time to not only get to Swettenham pier for the ferry but to also get breakfast on the way. We found a great Indian restaurant and tucked into Roti and curry, washed it down with copious amounts of strong sweet coffee…..perfect start to another glorious day 😉
The bikes were manhandled onto the ferry, we took our seats and two and a half hours later we landed at Kuah in Langkawi, from there it was about 25km on our bikes to our hotel. Now I’m not sure what went wrong here but our hotel was not quite as advertised….
Actually it was a bloody building site and to make matters worse, no one apologised or gave a discount or offered an upgrade. We were also told that we’d already paid through the booking website, can you imagine trying to get our money back if we left !!
We stayed but we were seriously unhappy about it. Fortunately the work was mainly at the front and as the hotel was on the beach we focused our attention there. We chilled out for the afternoon but both agreed we’d go sight seeing the following day, just needed to work out where we wanted to go. Out with the map and very soon decided to visit most places on the island, a nice circular route to include, cable cars, water falls, crocodile farms, glorious beaches, black sand beaches, fish eagles, boat rides and caves….with bats !!
Another tiring day ahead, fortunately we found an excellent taxi driver who rather than take his battered old taxi on an island tour exchanged it for his own car….a Mercedes with great aircon !!!
We gave him the map with all the places on it and let him decide the best way to go and the order, occasionally we’d ask to stop for photos but the list above is pretty much it. Below are the photos, bear in mind this is just a small selection, I’ll try and post more on FB at a later date.
Returning to our hotel we were again pretty tired, as I said before, being a tourist is hard work…..still someone’s got to do it 😉
We stayed local to the hotel to eat, looking out over the beach and waiting for the sunset….
The next morning we checked out and cycled back into Kuah, we wanted a hotel closer to the ferry terminal ready for the next morning. The cycle ride was short, hot, humid and came with a surprise ! As we entered Kuah we saw a large group of cyclists, we wandered over to find out what was going on. It was a group called ACT or Associated Cyclosportif Trekkers, they’d just done a 50km cycle tour of the island. Next thing you know they’d invited us to join them for the prize giving, speeches and lunch, a great afternoon and a fabulous bunch of people.
Our first sighting of ACT riders, sitting down listening to the speeches, getting in on the ACT photo, Naomi and the girls from ACT and the Captain and Kylie enjoying the company of other bikes. Thanks ACT for making us feel very special and very welcome 😉
Next morning we were up early, packed and down at the ferry terminal in time to drink large coffees from Starbucks before getting on a ferry that would ultimately take us to Thailand 😉
The ferry to Satun was fairly quick unlike the immigration to get into Thailand, it was at this point that we also discovered that we’d only get a 15 day visa rather than the 30 day visa we were hoping for. A quick change of plan was on the cards although we could have gone to a large city and extended our visas. We opted not to bother and concentrated on visiting the places that were more interesting, we therefore realised that we’d be taking a train at some point to get us to Bangkok in time.
Satun ferry terminal and our first food stop in Thailand, our new favourite food is roti with egg covered in condensed milk and sugar with a strong sweet coffee to go with it, god only knows how many calories in this concoction !!
We left the ferry port on the only road and headed for a place called Pak Bara, we didn’t have anywhere booked but knew it was a bit of a tourist place so just took pot luck. The ride was flat, hot and fairly easy to navigate, 73km later we arrived in Pak Bara and to be honest if there had been somewhere else to go…we’d have gone ! It wasn’t up to much really, I think it was to early in the season and quite
a few places were closed. We ended up in a very cheap shack by the beach, it was very hot as the aircon was struggling to keep up and for the first time since we arrived in Singapore we had no Wi Fi !!
We left bright and early next day, destination Palian, about 90km away up the coast. The day was hot and humid and I was still getting used to my new saddle so I was finding it tough. A few small hills along the way meant better scenery but a little harder work, worth it though.
We arrived in Palian and set about finding a hotel, we asked a local and he pointed away to the coast, we asked how far and he said 5km. We went looking for it and after taking the wrong turn we finally found the only hotel in Palian and boy did they know it. Firstly we weren’t about to pay the exorbitant prices and secondly it was miles from anything. The only thing to do was head on to Trang, a bigger town about 40km away but first lunch !
The extra 40km was tough going, the road got very busy, it was hot and humid and we’d already cycled about 100km. Fortunately our idea worked and just a few km from Trang we found a pleasant motel, very clean, cheap, good Wi Fi and not to far from a junction we’d need to turn left at in the morning. As we were tired we showered, ate, caught up on email and FB and had an early night.
Next stop, Pak Meng Beach, we’d booked a hotel called the Pak Meng Resort Hotel….wish we hadn’t !!
Only 46km to Pak Meng so we didn’t rush away in the morning then after about 15km we stopped for breakfast and took our time over it. The ride was lovely, gentle rolling hills and a few limestone hills to add a bit of interest, still very hot and humid though….it really takes it out of you. We entered the resort and ended up at a T junction, took a few photos with the sign post before turning left to our hotel. We stopped for drinks on the way and took more photos on the beach and with the cafe owners tandem 😉
We arrived at our hotel, it was miles out of the resort and therefore miles from any bars, restaurants or cafés, it looked tired and well past it’s best. We were very disappointed and have vowed never to book anything that had the name “resort” in it from now on !!
Fortunately we were only there for one night and we did manage to take some nice sunset photos, drink some nice cold beer and get some decent food in the restaurant albeit not cheap !
Things really needed to change, we were working hard on the bikes but the places we were staying in just weren’t that impressive. We considered getting a bus further up where we knew it would be busier and we’d have more choice. In the end we decided to see how the next town faired, Krabi would be that town and we’d heard good things about it. Naomi booked us into a place called P N Guesthouse and made sure it wasn’t way out of town, had Wi Fi and laundry service. All was good, just remained for us to cycle there, 111km through some lovely scenery, more rolling hills, quaint little villages and the occasional glimpses of the coast ! As we arrived in Krabi you just knew we’d made the right choice, it had some life about it, a buzz that hadn’t been there until now 😉
There was something about Krabi we liked from the off, even when we were cycling in it had that buzz. And don’t panic the white bike doesn’t have the same meaning over hear, it was just a rental sign 😉
Even the guesthouse was friendly and efficient, suddenly after so many miles it finally felt like we’d arrived somewhere rather than being stuck between places. So our usual routine followed, sort washing, shower, email, Facebook, beer and food although on this occasion I think beer and food came first 😉
The rest of the day was spent meandering around and getting the feel of the place, we ended up eating in an Italian restaurant run by a guy called Massimo,
Another benefit that our guesthouse had was the ability to book trains, buses and trips. Naomi already had a list of trains and buses so we booked those before sorting out a trip for the following day.
The trip we’d booked was a day on a boat, essentially it was going to Phi Phi but it stopped about six times in different locations to either swim, snorkel, eat, shop or just laze around. The trip was a bit more hectic than we’d anticipated, we expected to have more time to relax but it was all short stops then back in the boat, a bit rushed. Still the scenery was incredible and the lagoon we went through was amazing, shame I don’t have any photos of it, camera number 8 finally bit the bullet. Camera No 8 was an Olympus tough TG-1, waterproof, dust proof and shock proof, so how come despite me making sure that it was properly sealed before taking it in water did it drink half the ocean and promptly die on me ?? Very annoyed, frustrated and now without a small camera, it wouldn’t be until Bangkok that I’d get the chance to replace it and I can’t sort out the damaged one until I get home in December !!
Rant over and moving on, we had a good day when all said and done and the following day we took a long boat to Railay, just across the bay. Now this place is something else, it’s your picture postcard white sandy beach and limestone rocks in the bay looking stunning kind of moment. Seriously it really is amazing and even when it started raining it really didn’t spoil it at all, we just went and had lunch in a grotto, how cool is that ? We strolled round for ages, took loads of photos before unfortunately getting back on the boat back to Krabi. Now if you’re ever out that way and your looking for a day trip, pack a good book, some sun screen and a towel and go find a spot on the beach at Railay, it’s beautiful and you shouldn’t miss it !!
The next day we would take a bus up to Surathani then take a train to Hua Hin, this would save us a lot of cycling through areas that wouldn’t be so interesting and hopefully we’d still have time to cycle into Bangkok. All worked as Naomi had planned it, the pickup truck took us to the bus station, the bus had no trouble with our bikes and despite having to change the bus only a few miles up the road due to mechanical failure we still arrived in plenty of time to catch the train. The train then proceeded north and we got of in the early hours of the morning in Hua Hin where we promptly went looking for somewhere to stay, but that as they say is another story. Join me next time as we look around Hua Hin and head north into Bangkok !