2nd to 6th November

We leave Murshed’s house around 8h30. He drives us to the police station, to recuperate our bikes. Then we go to the port of Kuala Perlis. We want to cross the border by boat. Kuala Perlis is the main port to go to the Malaysian island of Langkawi, a very touristic island. The port is literally besieged by the tourists. Thousands of them, waiting in the queues to buy the ferry ticket, or waiting in the hall for the boarding. We were told that we also have to go to Langkawi first, and then take a new boat to Thailand. However, we find another part of the port, where some speedboats do the shuttle between Malaysia and Thailand, carrying goods.

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We manage to get on board one of these boats, transporting cement. As all the space is occupied by the cement bags, we are on the deck of the boat. The journey is around 40km, and takes 1h30. We pass by many islands, covered by the jungle.

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We are on the boat with two Thai people, who don’t speak any English… better not to have urgent things to say. This region of Malaysia has a famous species of eagle: the Langkawi Eagle.

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There is no difficulty to pass the immigration check points. Once in Thailand, we start cycling to the North. We have 300km to go to Krabi.

We see less traffic on the roads than in Malaysia. And more scooters and motos. Another major difference with Malaysia is the language. Here, everything is written in Thai, with very little things translated to English. On the road signs, from far you see letters looking like the Roman alphabet, but once you get closer, it’s totally different. It’s beautiful, but totally impossible to read for us. As we are not in a very touristic region, no one knows English. So we have to get understood by making signs! it’s quite funny. And we have to fight to learn the basic words: water, rice, noodles, hello, thank you! Even though they see we don’t understand, they still talk to us in Thai, they want to know more about us. We feel like the typical American tourist, speaking only English and expecting to be understood everywhere. We have to be more prepared for Cambodia and Vietnam! maybe English or French won’t be so welcome over there.

Not so bad for our first dishes in Thailand… fried rice (Kao Pat) and noodles in soy sauce (Pasiu)

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We started cycling around noon (once again, we changed time, but had no idea of it). After 60km, a late lunch and some munchies, we decide to stop in La Ngu for spending the night in a homestay.

We get up early today, around 5h. We have still 250km to Krabi, but we’ll try to do it in two days, in order to have one more day of rest over there. Since today is Sunday, there is little traffic on the road. It’s a pleasure to cycle here, on good flat roads, little traffic, beautiful landscapes.

There are many small mountains around us. They are very abrupt, and with vegetation everywhere. It’s like the typical image we have of Thailand. We also see some prey birds, kingfishers, snakes!

We stop for lunch around Trang (or Thap Tiang), the objective of this morning, with already 100km behind us. Even though we ate well, the afternoon is pretty hard. We arrive in the evening near the sea, in Sikao district. We need to do some research to find a place to sleep that is not too expensive. We are just a little late for the sunset on the beach. For dinner we take the typical fried rice and fried noodles (the only words we know in thai!), and then a banana crepe.

Tonight, we are totally exhausted, and won’t last long before sleeping.

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Today too, we get up early. After a small visit of the beach, we continue our journey.

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At the beginning of today’s road, there are several Clean Development Mechanism sites we had written down. These sites receive funds from the carbon market to reduce the CO2 emissions. Here, it’s for treating the wastewaters coming from the palm oil industry.

The first site we had referenced does not exist. Then, we stop in Lam Soon site. We need half an hour at the security office to explain that we would like to talk to someone that can understand English, in order to visit the factory. After some discussion again, they see the word “Green” on our visit card, and refuse to let us in, pretexting that the manager is very busy.

A few kilometres later, we have another site, the Pitak Palm wastewater treatment. Here the reception is much more positive! in fact they are impressed by our being engineers. We meet the manager of the factory. Despite many attempts to explain him what we want, just a tour of the facilities, he still believes we are here to propose our service for the application to the CDM.

This is all what we saw from those CDM sites: some pick-us and trucks entering full of palm fruits leaving empty, and big tanks.

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In the end, we get back to cycling, since we still have many kilometres to do today. We have a lunch in a restaurant by the road. Today, we are on a bigger road than yesterday, with more traffic. And as we approach Krabi, it’s quite urbanized. The last kilometres to Krabi are very long. We do not stop in the city, but continue towards Ao Nang beach, where there is a famous climbing place. It takes us a long time to look for a place to sleep tonight. Since there are many Western tourists, the prices are high. Apparently, in Thailand, there is no bargaining in the price. The price they tell you is fixed, and no discrimination on your nationality.

We are so tired that we don’t even have the courage to go to the nearby city for lunch.

Today is a rest day. In the morning, we go to the city for breakfast and to buy water and some food. Then, we stay in our room to update the website, that we had not had time to do for one week. We go out in the end of the afternoon, to see the sunset on the beach.

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In the city, we find an agency in which we can book all our tickets, for going to Ko Phi Phi by boat, then to Phuket by boat, then the train from Surat Thani to Bangkok. We also find a place to rent climbing gears for tomorrow.

We have dinner in a buffet restaurant. It means that we can eat as much as we want, of sea food, grilled meat (we have a grill on the table), and many other dishes. And all this for around 5€ per person! we compensate the lack of meat we had during the last weeks.

Today, we get up full of motivation to go for climbing. We rent our gears in the shop we found yesterday. As we have to go there by boat, we go with the rest of the people who booked climbing classes here. There is Alison, a South African girl, and an Indian family. They are all very nice and talkative.

We arrive on the beach of Ralay East, full of climbers. The walls we are going to climb are all in the shade! that’s a good point. The people from the agency give us our gear, and then let us a total freedom on what to do. We start with a short way, with a grade of 5. This is just some warm. Then we do a longer way, a 6a. This way seems quite hard, mostly because we sweat a lot due to the heat and humidity, but technically, it does not present any difficulty. We continue with a short but harder way, a 6b. It’s a failure, and we have to ask the people of the climbing school to go up to pick up our quickdraws. We meet Joe, an American from San Francisco, who will climb with us today.

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We then go to another sector, that is also on a beach, Ralay West now. There are some sculptures of penis, like a shrine to fertility. So we see many tourists on this beach, mainly attracted by the strangeness of such sculptures.

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After so much efforts to reach the top of the ways, we are more than happy to take a bath in the water! not to mention that the sand is nearly white, there are some corals, and colored fishes, and we see the famous thailandese landscape of islands covered with vegetation emerging from the sea.

At the end of the day, we do one more way, just to get a good last impression of the site, then we go home. Since we did not eat lunch today, we choose to repeat the buffet of yesterday! such a great comfort!