At Samut Songkhram now - big busy city, heavy traffic, another typical non tourist thai town, nothing special. Only about 80km from Bangkok now so will head there tomorrow for some well earned rest - albeit I have alot to do there - the bike is getting some new drivetrain parts fiited as well as a full service - needs to be 100% for central asia - arguably the toughest section of the whole trip with high altitudes, mountains and cold weather. Also need to organise onward visas and plan where and when to start - so will be in Bangkok for at least a week - probably two. Left Cha-am 0900 after nye fireworks on beach. Headwinds continued, although not as strong as last couple of days. Took the backroads thru wide open farming areas with sediment ponds as far as the eye could see. Last 10km back on main drag - with traffic increasing on 3x3 lane road on the approach to Bangkok. Cloudy day, so was comfortable riding - except that I've managed to grow a boyle on my left butt cheek which is making things a little uncomfortable - the hard leather seat isn't very forgiving to such ailments - puting the pain aside and pushing on to Bangkok tomorrow where I'll have plenty of time to recover.

Made it to Cha-am. Will be bringing in the new year here. Left Hua Hin 1130, arrived here around 1400. Headwinds again, stuck to backroads again, 6km smooth, hardpacked, dry, dusty dirt. 2km on the main drag. Hotels have doubled their prices due to new years eve so I've setup camp on the beach. Went for a swim to freshen up and now at the internet cafe about to have a 2nd lunch. I'm not the only one with about 50 other thai tents all around me. They have a couple of stages setup along the beach, so I'm sure there will be music and fireworks. Water is shallow with tiny waves, hundreds of lounge chairs line the beach, dogs rolling around in the sand, kids kicking balls around and flying kites - nice family atmosphere. Plenty of activities here with jetskis pulling banana boats, inflatable inner tubes, horse riding, bicycles for hire - not just tandems but ones with 4 and even 5 seats - reminds me of the goodies - wish I had another 4 people with me so I could ride one. Very nice 6km long beach is comfortably full of locals and tourists. Much more relaxed here than Hua Hin. Bangkok is only about 200km away now, so should be there within 3 days. The locals love their bungers here - as soon as it got dark they started going off, no sign of stopping soon. Fireworks are legal here - they sell them on the street.

At Bang Saphan now, woke to sunshine, headed off at 0930. Another great days cycling along the backroads. Undulating, rolling hills, winding road, warm and sunny, local traffic only. Done 16km off road (again in sections not in one hit) - hardpacked dirt with top layer of small stones, was dry, dusty and a little slippery. Some steeper 10% dirt sections but was able to ride the lot. Headwinds again today - seems to be the norm now as I head north, alot of exposed open areas too, slowing me down. Shouting at dogs working well. People out here are much more friendly than in the bigger non tourist towns further south. Had a bit of a brown pants moment around the 60km mark, when a metre long green tree snake decided to slither across the road. I was on dirt with a downward grade and there was no way I could stop in time or swerve to avoid it - so I had no choice but to run over him. I put my legs up as high as I could to avoid a possible reflex bite - which luckily never eventuated - I looked back but the snake was gone so I'm assuming he's OK - I wasn't going back to check! Scenery not as nice as a couple of days ago, but there was a magical section through some farmlands with a thick tree canopy overhead. Had lunch at local market in a small town (Pathio). At my 3rd lunch stop around 1530, I realised that I was still on Malaysian time (one hour too fast). I'm not sure for how many days I was out but now I'm reset....hehe. Rolled into this spread out small town around 1730, had some dinner, found accomodation and now resting comfortably.

Made it to Hua Hin - back to the western world here big time - reminds me of Kuta in Bali - endless bars, clubs, loud music, aussies, fast food, ladyboys, expats, white trash. Looking forward to moving on to Cha-am tomorrow - only about 30km north - hopefully a more sedate place to bring in the new year. Tough day grinding away into the wind all day with no let up. Left Prachuap at 0900 after big breakfast of soup and seafood fried rice. At least I was able to stay on the backroads (except for a 15km stint on the main drag at the start and 10km into Hua Hin). Mainly flat open country thru farmlands. Cycled thru Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park - which was a dissapointment, seemed to be an agricultural wasteland with sediment ponds and alot of dry, barren land. Rubbish all along the roadside - definately not world class, 200B entry fee seemed like a thai cash grab. There are a number of caves, beaches and campgrounds in here which I didn't check out. The big, surrounding limestone mountains are its only saving grace. Another clear, sunny and hot day - what happened to the rain - supposed to be monsoon season? Thanks climate change! Nice, peaceful and quiet beaches coming up the coast, waterfront resorts started to pop up around 80km mark, but decided to push on to give myself an easy day tomorrow. Arrived into town around 1700, looked for accomodation - many places were full, but eventually found one within budget. Going to hell!

Made it to Chumphon. Another awesome days riding. Slept in a bit, woke to showers, and didn't leave till 1030. The german couple I met yesterday decided to spend another day at Khan Ngoen to avoid having to ride in the rain. They also planned to come up here and then catch a boat to Ko Tao (near Ko Samui, where I'd come from earlier) - so I might see them again. It didn't bother me, besides with all the rain in the last 24 hours, I doubted it would be any worse than yesterday. Started out on the main drag but was too noisy with all the traffic so decided to go via the backroads and brave the dogs. There was alot of zig zaging, undulating terrain and extra kilometres but it was worth it. Even had 22km of off road action (not all in one hit but sections) - smooth hardpacked dirt with small stones, some muddy sections, railway access tracks and a couple of water crossings - awesome stuff, even had to back track a couple of kms as the railway underpass was flooded so I had to find another place to cross the rail lines. Great scenery with some open farming areas as well as jungles of palms and hidden temples. Only local traffic too so I was able to take the lane most of the time. I took the advise of the germans and shouted at chasing dogs, which worked for most of them - alhough I had a couple of buffoons chase me down hill when I was doing over 40km/h - seriously, no chance boys! The wind was bitching today and blowing into my face, but really only affected me on the open sections and the last 30km - where I had to rejoin the main road into town. The morning showers soon gave way to an overcast/sunny day and by 1300 the sealed sections were dry. Rolled into town around 1800, found some accomodation and went to the night market to grab some dinner. The place I'm staying at is also a bar/restaraunt, but is closed for Christmas today, and I seem to be the only guest so it's nice and quiet and I have the place to myself. Returned from the market and had myself a feast (spicy seafood salad with fried chicken, seafood pad thai, sticky rice with mango and 1L lemon ice tea - all for around $8, prepared using fresh ingredients before my eyes - it doesn't get much better than that! Top day! Will have a rest day here as I hit a couple of centuries over the past few days, so I need to recover.

26/12/11 - Did sweet fa, wandered around town but nothing really to see or do. Beach is about 10km away so will ride by tomorrow. No cinemas either. Night market is the definate highlight here.

Arrived at Prachuap Khiri Khan after a tough days cycling. Had headwinds all the way. Again got onto the backroads, although had some trouble today as a couple of the roads I wanted to go on didn't exist, so had to backtrack a bit. Done about 21km on the main road in sections - not a bad place to be really - 2x2 lane road with smooth 2m wide shoulder is good for riding, only downsides are noisy high speed traffic and trucks. Only had 6km of unsealed sections with similar conditions as yesterday - hardpacked dirt with loose gravelly top, dry and dusty. The rest of the time I was zig zaging on backroads which were lightly undulating, rolling hills. Some real nice beaches along the way too, quiet with only a few resorts and tourists. This town seems nice and quiet and relaxed as well, seen a few tourists wandering around. Rolled into town around 1700, found accomodation, had another feast at the local night markets (soup, satay and pad thai) and here I am at the internet cafe. Still hungry - going to seek out some dessert. Over and out.

29/12/11 - Rest Day, rode to beaches north and south of town. Also visited the temple on top of a hill for superb views of the town and surrounding bays - which is also overrun by monkeys. Great town this one, the seaside promenade reminds me of the one in Havana, but on a smaller scale with the waves crashing over the sea wall. Beaches are nice and quiet with only a few waterfront resorts and tourists. Seafood is the local speciality here so I tried the dried and deep fried cotton fish with mango salad - sublime!

At Khan Ngoen now, a small town in the middle of nowhere. Had my wetest day for entire trip so far. Setoff in drizzle at 0930, the rain increasing intensity to showers then heavy rain all the way to here at 1700. Took the backroads all the way today. Superb scenery, flat, quiet - except for the odd dog chase. Caught up with a german couple on bikes at 80km mark who had met a lone german cyclist going the other way half an hour earlier! Freaky! Anyway I joined the couple and we rode together another 35km to town for the night. We went to the local night market, picked up some food and went back to the hotel to have dinner and discuss our experiences. 2300 now and still raining! Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

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