Thailand Power of Ten Update – 2 Nov
Why we are winding around the place.
When one heads out on an adventure, you don’t want to end up running mega asphalt freeways – getting fried from radiated heat off the ground. Have your life shortened by ten years due to mainlining on diesel smoke. The only hints of wildlife that one sees is a dehydrated sun baked truck “flattie” or the odd snake, or lizard, yes dog too and whatever other road kill you can identify.
Okay so you got that, that’s why we decided to take the scenic route which has given us quite an adventure. It’s simple; we typed in Bangkok as the start point and Cave Lodge as the end destination – then one just types in walk to and hit navigate and all hell breaks loose on the trail. This thing takes you across swaps down non existent roads, across rice paddies and down the railroad into oncoming freight trains. This is the way to travel Thailand on foot, never a dull moment.
Yesterday we found ourselves staying with some monks in this really cool monastery and the head monk told us we were the first tourists they had ever had in their town let alone stay with them.
The run is going really well, pace is picking up every day. This Andy the “windhond” that I run with is relentless with the pace; it quietly climbs every day. Every now and then he turns to check on me. If he sees I am taking strain he slows a bit and has a chirp, “Uncle D I am only here for your happiness.” I then regained my breath and its head down again. A little further on around a sharp bushy bend of this farm track we saw Pete parked ahead, camera out.
“Guys there is a small pond ahead” Pete said. “Please wade in it so that I can see if I can drive”.
Shoes off and in we went. About 50 m on down, the flooded road took another bend. We rounded this and got a good look ahead as it straightened in the distance. As far as we could see it was just water. Andy stopped and just did a route check – it’s correct he shouted and looked back towards Pete, who by now had started up the chariot and was reversing out looking for an alternative route. Our feet were getting sore from the stones, so it was on with the shoes and slush on through the mud. Nearly 2 hours later and 4.8 km of bodging we finally got out of this mess and onto some more solid dry ground.
Oh Yes!! And the dogs
Dogs, yes I might have mentioned there are lots and they come out at night. A few nights back we spent and evening at quite a run down rural monastery. Really cool monks who gave us a spot to sleep under the overhang of the roof of the main hall. There were also a lot of young Monks in training who were really curious with us being there. We did notice quite a few stray dogs hanging around – but as night fall came so the dogs rolled in. All shapes sizes colours and with different tones in their barks. I am sure that somehow the message had got out that we had been having maybe too much sleep or something. We got into our tents and the first fight started; the pack to the north of our tents attacked the guys to the east, the guys to the south gave the guys in the west a clap. As this was happening there was a lone dog that started to serenade the moon. The fights suddenly stopped all the dogs ran off en masse to the loner and joined him in this mass hysteria of group wailing. Then one idiot got out of sync and the whole mob turned on him and the fur was flying.
The yelping suddenly stopped and all the dogs spilt into their pack again and retreated into their zones. All was quiet; sudden silence had fallen on the monastery and the starry night sky beckoned us into dream world as we slowly dozed off. Then some damn dog sounded the trumpet and it started all over again and again and again…
Nearly taken out
We are finally on the dreaded strip called the Asian Highway just heading out of the city Nakhon. It’s now a 150 km drag up this truck route to the north. The one advantage is that we will chew up some kms quickly, but the heat is just crazy on this slab of asphalt. Bikes, trucks and bakkies flying in from every direction- one needs to keep your wits about you. As the day drags and the heat begins to blur the mind one sees the odd little thing a bit slower so we try to move further off the shoulder, if there is one, so that you have a little more reaction time. The worst is that the roads have these big sink “bowls” in the road where the road surface has not been properly compacted and has sunk in a bit. Big trucks hit this and they lurch left or right. The worst is the trailer as you don’t know where it’s going to jump. We were about 2 km from the school we were to sleep at this evening and just slowing the pace and with this so too does the concentration drop. Suddenly out of nowhere a van towing a trailer lurches out of one of these bowls at me.
The van corrects, but the trailer is wider than the van and I did not judge this properly. The next thing there is no space as the back of the trailer washes out into my path; it’s an eatery between me and the safety of open ground, but no escape. I spun sideways with the sound of Andy shouting ringing in my ears. The van managed to pull out of the swerve quick enough and just snapped the trailer straight as it screeched past me and bounded down the road.
All I heard Andy say “If that had not killed you it would have ripped your arm and maybe leg off.” I turned and just looked at the nightmare disappear into the haze.