Easy riding, new friends Doug and Tippy, food markets, ancient ruins and, as always, more great food! But hey, where are all the tourists?
Finally some easy riding days! Just 58km yesterday and 34 today. All flat! It was a Buddhist holiday in Thailand yesterday, Magha Puja. Most establishments were closed while people partake in “merit making” activities. (It’s a good thing!)
Yesterday we met up and stayed with new friends Doug and Tippy who we’d been in touch with via email prior to travelling here, but had not met yet. Doug rode his bicycle out to meet up with us at the 7-Eleven in Ban Rai then we rode together to his and Tippy’s home in Si Samrong. Doug is a wonderfully insightful Canadian national and Tippy is a beautiful, warm & friendly Thai national who have re-located from Canada to live here in Thailand where Tippy has family. We had a yummy dinner in a local restaurant where we shared stories and laughs. In the morning Tippy served up some traditional Thai rice porridge that her own mother made, which was delicious. Thank you Doug and Tippy!
Last night Doug took us to the nearby outdoor market. Now that’s an experience. The sights and sounds are all so irresistible and it leaves us thinking that if we lived here we would never ever cook anything! Randy is pretty adventurous, (me, less so), but there’s no way any crispy fried grubs, crickets, chicken feet, frogs, will find their way into our bags for late-night snacking. There were lots of BBQ fish-on-sticks, savoury looking crabs, chicken this & that, veggies prepared in every imaginable way, sweet things, soups, and spices. It’s a busy, busy place!
Today we left and rode a fairly short (34k) to the historic city of Sukhothai which was founded almost in 1238, making it 680 years old and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. The ruins here are amazing! There’s a real feeling of peaceful serenity when you wander the monuments, imagining the workmanship that went into these things! Simply amazing and a visual feast for the eyes. It feels old, looks grand, and inspires. Which makes us wonder:
Where are all the tourists? Wherever we go we marvel at how few people appear to be travelling. We have stayed at more than one place where we sense our aloneness. Restaurants are frequently empty. Doug explained that a terrible drought has affected the economy for locals who rely heavily on agriculture in some regions. They aren’t dining out. The coronavirus is keeping Chinese and other nationals, who would normally be plentiful, away. We haven’t met a single other Canadian. We haven’t seen a single other bicycle tourist. In any case, there is always a vacancy at any given accommodation and nothing seems to be crowded. Today we are at a resort with a pool—a fabulous resort. There were four of us at the pool. No shortage of lounge chairs!