Another fairly easy day of highway cycling but still staying alert with lots of trucks passing close to the team and motor bikes coming up the verge the wrong way (normal for Thailand) and quite dangerous if not looking ahead.
Each rider has been passing back warning signals to be alert of obstacles ahead - potholes, merging traffic, dogs on the side of the road, bulls and cows free grazing (unleashed), overhanging trees, cars parked on the verge and anything out of the norm that can bring down a rider. My whistle is still coming in handy a lot of the time and is stuck to the corner of my mouth ready for the unexpected when in built up areas.
Early out of Thung Song this morning riding through a valley of mist and low cloud amongst the limestone mountains. After 4,645kms of riding I just couldn't resist riding into a drive through McDonalds with Matt in tow. A quick double cheese burger for breakfast gave us the gravy for a 92km ride ahead to Phatthalung (overnight stay).
Thank goodness for the fast highway cycling as we've been getting the big distances done fairly early just in time before some heavy thunderstorms hit Southern Thailand on a daily basis. I have mentioned to all my accompanying riders including guides that we aren't safe until we get into our hotel or home stay, but today proved different after settling in and sitting on a plastic chair for convenience when showering without my prosthetic limb on, it exploded into a hundred pieces and left me flat on my back on the shower floor like a dead ant (again). I gathered that it could have been the extra weight from eating the McDonalds earlier, extra body weight by adding muscle since leaving Hanoi or simply plastic chairs are made for small Thai people and NOT big foreigners (farang). Whatever, I came out without any damage and ready for another big riding day tomorrow with Matt on the way to Hadji, edging closer and closer to the Thai/Malaysian border.
Phatthalung is one of the southern provinces (changwat) of Thailand. Neighboring provinces are (from north clockwise) Nakhon Si Thammarat, Songkhla, Satun and Trang.
Phatthalung was formerly known as Mardelong in Malay, especially during the time when the region came under Malay-Muslim influence.
During the reign of King Ramathibodi I of the Ayutthaya kingdom in the 14th century, Phatthalung became one of twelve royal cities. At the end of the 18th century King Rama I submitted the city to the Ministry of Defence, which was responsible for all the southern provinces. During the administrative reform by King Chulalongkorn, Phatthalung became part of the Monthon Nakhon Si Thammarat.
The majority of the province's populace are Thai Buddhists, although 11.1% of the population adhere to the Islamic faith. Many Muslims in Phatthalung have some ethnic Malay ancestry, who have gradually intermarried with the Thais and adopted Thai cultural norms.
Talung is a popular folk performance in the south. Talung puppet figures are made of dried sheets of cattle hide cut and carved beautifully into characters for a shadow play. The characters are usually painted wholly in black and each of them is put firmly between a split bamboo slat called "mai tap". A character’s mouth and hands will be moved to accord with the narration. A Talung ensemble comprises puppet masters who are also vocalists, and a band, totalling not over eight persons. The musical instruments include pipe, drum, phon (a drum), and gong.
Truck and Matt
On the long ride home, Southern Thailand
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