… Back To The Sea.
Has it been seven days already? Seems like only a week!
Another early start. I figured the drive today would not be too pleasant. Bangkok had to be negotiated, as had the many construction areas on the southbound expressway down the Isthmus. I wandered around the hotel between 6 and 7am, taking pictures and waiting for the restaurant to open. Once it did, it was a hasty gobble and out onto the road.
I needn’t have worried.
I’m never too sure the best way to deal with Bangkok’s infamous traffic. Try to go around, or cross fingers, take the shorter route, plow through the middle, and hope there are no jams. I left the decision to Ms. Chuckles. That way, if the trip went pear-shaped, well, it wasn’t going to be my fault and I’d have someone to scream at.
Screaming wasn’t needed. She picked a toll road that went almost through the middle of the city and for the most part was jam-free. That put me a good 400kms into the trip and well south of Bangkok before midday. A good start.
I could have been earlier, but I made one stop along the way. Going up to Buriram, I’d missed the white Buddha on the hill. I was determined not to miss him on the way back, and even figured exactly how many kilometers to the left turn. Even so, I missed it.
The road has a number, but it’s not visible from anywhere. There are some tiny signs in Thai that says goodness knows what, but nothing else to indicate there is tourist attraction.
What I should have done is leave the main highway and exit onto something they call the “Frontage Road.” This runs parallel and allows access to the side roads. Having realized my mistake, luckily the frontage road was two way, so I could make a hairpin left and double back to check the side road. As soon as you turn in, there he is. As advertised. The white Buddha on the hill.
It’s about 4kms to the wat that houses the statue. Once there, it looks like there’s a thousand or more stone steps to reach him. I’m sure the view is spectacular, but I decided against. With almost 500kms still to go, it didn’t seem wise to use the time or energy. If I’m honest, with only 5kms to go, I probably would have made the same decision. The climb was so long, much of it was hidden in trees.
Actually, the air was so clear, from there – probably still 150kms from Bangkok – I could see the mountain range that forms the border with Burma. Those mountains were at least 300kms away.
Anyhoo, being ahead of schedule allowed me to stop for a real lunch. Usually I grab a couple of Dunkin Donuts. Hey, I’m Canadian. We eat donuts. Lots of them. But today I ducked into an MK and leisurely devoured a plate of their roast duck with rice and various accompaniments. That might have been a mistake because after thirty minutes back on the road I felt tired and had to stop for a cup of Amazon’s cappuccino. Yes, yes, yes, I know real Italians don’t drink cappuccino after 10am. But I’m not, so I do.
So, somewhere around 4pm I arrived at the Malai Asia Resort in Tab Sakae. Again Ms. Chuckles took me down some dirt roads into the middle of nowhere. It’s crazy how one blindly follows GPS instructions. Instinctively you know “this can’t be right” but at the same you’re thinking “but, what if…”
The hotel has one thing going for it. Location. It’s set in huge grounds next to a pleasant beach. But there’s not much more to commend it. Rather old and not well maintained. I could probably say the same about the staff. But it’s nice to see the sea again. I’ve grown used to it over the past few years and would find it hard to live somewhere inland.
So, tomorrow, I have one more place to explore, that’s only about 10kms south of the hotel, and then it’s back into the construction jams to continue southwards. With luck I’ll be home around 5pm. Then I can start the huge task of sorting through about 1500 photos, and to writing in more depth about the things I’ve seen. There’s been quite a few!