From Uthai Thani to Sukothai: I see Buddha statues… all the time

Cycling from Bangkok to Chiang Mai: part two

  

Thursday 26th November

Miles: 25

We had set ourselves a short day in terms of distance, so left at 7.40 after the “American breakfast” laid on by our hotel (sausage, egg and ham).

We were continuing along the river, and enjoyed the views of distant hills and rice paddies.

  
We were lucky enough to cycle past a parade.

  
Though I think (I hope) they were rehearsing, as there was nobody around to watch them!  

By 11 we had arrived at Nakhon Sawan, and after getting a bit lost found the hotel that we had booked. It had been rated as “superb” on Booking.com, and was very nice, but Eric did kill a cockroach as long as his middle finger while we were waiting in the lobby. I felt a bit sorry for the cockroach, but at the same time was glad that it now wouldn’t be scuttling up my leg.

Dinner came in at a new record low price today: 60 baht for two bowls of noodles with chicken and two cokes. That’s £1.20. I requested that the veg was well-cooked, and they seemed to understand, but we still got raw beansprouts. I ate them thinking vaguely about E. coli. I am too neurotic for street food. 


Friday 27th November

Miles: 58

We were on a long, straight road all day. It was pretty dull. 

  
Early in the day two dogs came running towards us, barking and snarling. I turned to them and shouted “GO AWAY! GO AWAY!” as loud as I could. To my satisfaction they stopped, and I think they looked surprised. Eric started laughing at my attempt to sound tough, but between the sniggers he told me that I did a good job.

Later on we had a much friendlier and very surprising encounter when a woman pulled over, got out of her car and handed us two large bottles of water and two sandwiches. She didn’t say a word, but kept giggling in a tone of disbelief at our bike. We were completely surprised and touched that she had taken the trouble to do this, and said thank you many times with gobsmacked expressions comparable to hers. What a kind thing to do!

I was finding the long, straight road tough-going, and for the last 10 miles I wanted nothing more than to be lying down in an air-conditioned room. Luckily for me, Eric was In The Zone, and mainly thanks to him we ate up the miles and had arrived by midday. 

An hour later, recovered but now desperately hungry, I went out in search of food.

Thank god for little food stalls like this. There was absolutely nothing else for miles around.  

Then, that afternoon we had another pleasant surprise. We had contacted an old friend of my mum’s, called Nong, who had offered to put us up for the night if we were in the area. We would be going to see her tomorrow, but she let us know that she would be coming to see us this evening. She and her husband came and took us out for dinner.

 
We had an absolute feast! The highlight was grilled fish with a mango salad salsa. 

We were whizzed from and to our hotel in their huge, air-conditioned car. To experience travelling with such ease and comfort after cycling for so many miles that day felt unreal. We staggered into bed and slept very well. 

PS. Check out this enormous moth which landed on our handlebars (it was about as big as my hand).  


Saturday 28th November

Miles: 30

This morning we got back onto the long straight road, and cycled the last 30 miles to Phitsanulok, where we met Nong and her husband outside the Tesco Lotus at 10. I just about had time to go and buy them some chocolates before they arrived. 

They guided us to their home, and then after a quick break, shower and the first of many – oh so many – snacks, the four of us headed out to see a bit of Phitsanulok. 

First we were taken out for lunch, and had several delicious dishes including pigs’ livers with chilli, chicken with chilli and a clear soup with unidentified bitter vegetables. 

  

Then we went to Phitsanulok’s most famous temple, known as Wat Yai (which means “Big Temple”). Here we saw A LOT of Buddhas (though only the very best made the final cut to this blog post)…      

   
 
… The Buddha statues included the Phra Phuttha Chinnarat, which is considered by some to be the most beautiful Buddha in Thailand. He had a good pair of calves on him, that I will say.

 

But in all seriousness, his calves were good.  

Nong also took us to be blessed by a monk. We all knelt on a mat and put our palms together while he chanted and shook water over us. “For good luck,” said Nong. Thanks Nong. 

Then Nong bought us some coconut ice cream.

Some more pictures from Wat Yai.   

   

Then we went to Wat Ratcha Burana, which has a gigantic old stupa (one of these). 

   

And a sacred tree.   

 

We got back in the car and ate some amazing donuts, which Nong had picked up from a street vendor. 

We had a little look at the Nan River.  

And then went to see another temple, where they had decorated the trees.   

    
   

Then we went for coffee, with snacks. Really big snacks. 

And then back home, where Eric helped himself to some more donuts and muffins. I knew better. I knew what was coming… the most huge and delicious home-cooked dinner ever! 

Sour tom yam soup, crispy chicken, crispy battered fish, a plate of cabbage, a huge ginger salad… I was so full… Nong’s husband is such a fantastic cook, he should open his own restaurant. 

We could not have been better looked after, or more well fed!


Sunday 29th November

Miles: 44

After a hearty breakfast of khao dhom (a sort of soupy rice) with tender beef and a side of mini croissants, we said goodbye to our kind hosts. They sent us on our way with a large bag of “solar-dried” bananas, two bags of fried chicken and some wet wipes. 

The sun rising over Phitsanulok.  

We had a choice between the long scenic route or the short boring road. We went with short and boring. Maybe we are becoming jaded old cycle tourists. The journey was pretty unremarkable, though the scenery wasn’t unpleasant.  

   

We arrived at Sadaowan resort by 10.20, and spent the rest of the day hand-washing clothes and binging on the resort’s wifi connection. 

We’ve decided to take a couple of days off in Sukothai to have a bit of a break and check out the famous ruins… hope you like… Buddhas!

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