Saturday, April 30, 2016

Cycling South Thailand 2016: Day 4 - Boat Ride At Thale Noi Bird Sanctuary

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Cycling South Thailand 2016 : Day 4 - Boat Ride At Thale Noi Bird Sanctuary
Tour of South Thailand: Day 4, 14th April 2016
Small Group Cycling Tour - Thale Noi>Saen Suk Lampam Beach>Phatthalung.
Cycling Distance - 33.30 km.     Level: Easy
Time : 9:35am to 12:45pm
Time Taken :  3hrs 10mins (including stops at Saen Suk Lampam Beach to chill, rest and photo opps).

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Route Recommendations :
1. The route is relatively flat with spots of shade here and there.
2. March to June is the hot season in Thailand, it does get extremely hot. With the El Nino effect this year's day temperature shot up to almost forty degrees. Most of the main roads are unshaded, so do cover up and rehydrate frequently.
    We rode this stretch during the morning, it was a short ride and we were not much affected by the heat. 
3. There are cycling lanes along the way from Thale Noi to Phatthalung, but do not be surprised if part of these are used to dry anchovies by the locals. 
4. Places & Scenery
    - Staying a night at Thale Noi is a must; this is so that one can go on an early sunrise boat ride to view the birds and other animals at the Thale Noi Waterfowl Reserve bird sanctuary. While on the boat ride, request the boatman to approach the Thanon Chaloem Phra Kiat 80 Phansa elevated highway to get a view of it from water level.
    - Boats can be rented at the jetty (GPS: 7.77729, 100.12253) at 450 Bahts each. Don't worry it comes together with a boatman, do give him a handsome tip though.
    - From the bridge at Pak Pra River (GPS: 7.72755, 100.14486) there are surrealistic view of the many Chinese Fishing Nets.
    - The Saen Suk Lampam Beach (GPS: 7.62784, 100.15479) is a nice place to stop as it has a nice beach and nearby is a nice park too.
5. Food
    - A good place for breakfast/lunch is at the coffee shop in Thale Noi that serves excellent noodles and chicken rice (GPS: 7.77662, 100.11772).
    - At Phatthalung, good pork trotter rice is served at a shop (GPS: 7.61595, 100.08109) near our hotel.
    - Pop Eye Grille (GPS: 7.61188, 100.07134) serves pretty good Thai style barbecue-steamboat dinner.
    - The night market at Phatthalung (GPS: 7.77838, 100.12303), near the railway station, has a good range of food and other stuff.
6. Accommodations
    We stayed the Grand PL Hotel (GPS: 7.61673, 100.08171), rates was at 500 Bahts per room per night. They do have a small storeroom at the ground floor for keeping bicycles.


PRELUDE

The previous day was a wild, wet and colourful one as we joined the locals in celebrating Songkran. We were fortunate to be able to find a hotel in Thale Noi so that today we could go on a wonderful bird-watching boat ride at the Thale Noi Waterfowl Reserve, it's one that should not be missed!



THE RIDE

 
Ride Route - Thale Noi>Saen Suk Lampam Beach>Phatthalung.
We started early with a boat ride to go bird watching at the Thale Noi Waterfowl Reserve. After that we rode to Phatthalung with a quick stop at the Pak Pra River Bridge and a longer chill out stop at the Saen Suk Lampam Beach.


We were up early and by 6:00 am were on a boat heading out into Lake Thale Noi; and were hoping to catch views of the many birds here as the sun rises, it would be a beautiful sight.


This portion of the lake is shallow and full of life, water lilies and lotus with their colourful blooms float on the surface and behind them tall reed plants shoot up. Their roots below water are ideal for fishes to breed and these fishes attract the birds.


The boat putted along and then suddenly the boatman turns off the engine and starts rowing, we glided along stealthily not wanting to interrupt the quietness of the place.


 Then.... we see them.... birds flying in the air, skimming the surface of the lake and every once in a while dipping below the surface and coming up with a successful catch between their beaks.


Next, a single white egret standing out conspicuously among the green and red...


... And then whole flocks of them, slowly walking in the shallow waters, nibbling into the water and feeding. Birds are all around us, wading in the water, soaring high above in the skies; the views are majestic, colourful and so alive! This is nature at one of its best.


We headed further outwards, towards the Thanon Chaloem Phra Kiat 80 Phansa elevated highway, now looking different when viewed from bellow. It's tall piers silhouette against the sunrise, looking like the stilty legs of egrets and cranes. The total boat ride, up to the bridge and back, is about twenty kilometres.


The bridge marks the end of Lake Thale Noi which is a protected reserve where no hunting and fishing is allowed. We rode along the Ban Klang Canal before turning back. The canal leads out to a large lake that goes further south to Songkhla Lake before exiting to the Gulf of Thailand.
Just after the bridge we saw fishermen with their nets out ready for a good catch (see above map).


 As we headed back, a family of water buffaloes calmly swam pass us, there's even an albino one that looked a bright dark pink in the rising sunlight.


Against the sunrise, the buffaloes swam, their movements mightily swirling the calmness of the water.


As we approached the jetty, a bird swooped passed us. Our eyesight followed it to a glorious sight - in the brighter morning the water lilies painted the lake a sea of pink.

To another side, a cormorant went squawking while eyeing the waters below for a fish to catch.
(Click here to read more of Thale Noi Waterfowl Reserve)


It was a two hour boat ride; the beauty of the place had made us forget about our stomachs. Now back on land, our hunger pangs called out ferociously and we went a food hunting.
Many stalls line the main street, one was this stall selling fried pork and chicken. It was a favourite among locals and the moment the fired meat were scooped out from the wok, they were snapped up. We waited our turn, got some pork and chicken and went to another stall to buy some local cakes before adjourning to a coffee-shop for some noodles breakfast with these.


 9:30am - After a quick rest, we checked out from the motel and started our ride towards Phatthalung. It was an easy ride along the flat roads and the morning was not that hot. Along the way there were cycling lanes but at several stretches anchovies were laid out to dry in the sun.


We were happily cycling along up the the bridge over the Pak Pra River (GPS: 7.72755, 100.14486) when Keat suddenly swerved around and stopped. I was wondering why and stopped to.
From the bridge was a surrealistic view; Chinese fishing nets sat on stilts over the water stretching out towards the horizon. Far away, the whitish sky blended smoothly with the lake's water.


The scenery looked like it had jumped out from an old Chinese painting.


On the other side, a man was hauling in his net. It came up with his catch... just one paltry fish! The man shook his head and lowered the net again.


10:15am - A quick stop for some drinks and a sign shouts out Phatthalung ahead!


At Ban Lam Pam, we made a left detour and headed for Saen Suk Lampam Beach. It was high tide then and the beach could hardly be seen.


Sin was feeling a bit under the weather; so we stayed on here for more than hour drinking some beer as we took in the cooling sea breeze and the calmness of the place.


In the sea, children were happily swimming. Noticing me they waved merrily and shouted at me.


Nearby is a park with artefacts from Thailand's past like this steam-powered road roller.


Well rested, we continued our journey, riding pass this odd looking hill. It's the Khao OK Thalu Mountain after which Phatthalung is named after.


12:45pm - This is a funny photograph at our hotel, the Grand PL Hotel. No we were not numbered slaves up for sale OR masseurs waiting our turn. Those red tags are room keys with their numbers, the photo made it easier for us to note each other's room numbers.


Lunch was stewed pig trotter's rice together with some fresh, sweet mangoes at a nearby shop (GPS: 7.615948, 100.081090).
With a free afternoon, we just relaxed and had a good Thai massage. A tip here, go for the older masseurs they give a stronger and better massage.


Dinner was an interesting affair at a place with an cute name - Pop Eye Grille!
(GPS: 7.61188, 100.07134)



It's a Thai steamboat cum barbecue that came with freshly cut food which we boiled in a specially made pot. At the centre is a raised portion to barbecue the meats. We later adjourned to the night market (next to the railway station) and guess what I had there? Yes! Thai omelet.... again!

It had been a long but enjoyable day; one of a beautiful bird sanctuary, a bridge with a fantastic view, a nice beach, good massages and delicious food.
Good night!


Tomorrow we head for Trang, we planned to start earlier to avoid the heat. It should be an easy 60 km. ride, but then we were in for some surprises!


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New Zealand Cycling Routes Main Page
These were the routes we rode at South Island's Central Otago Rail Trail.


You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Cycling Thailand / Cycling South Thailand 2016 / Day 4 - Boat Ride At Thale Noi Bird Sanctuary     |     Go To D1 / D2 / D3 / D5 / D6 / D7 / D8-10 / D11-12
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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Cycling South Thailand 2016: Day 3 - A Wet & Colourful Day At Thale Noi

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                                     AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                                   
Cycling South Thailand 2016 : Day 3 - A Wet & Colourful Day At Thale Noi
Tour of South Thailand: Day 3, 13th April 2016
Small Group Cycling Tour - Ranot>Thanon Chaloem Phra Kiat 80 Phansa>Thale Noi.
Cycling Distance - 39.33 km.     Level: Easy
Time : 7:15am to 11:00am
Time Taken :  3hrs 45mins (including stops for breakfast, some relaxation at Thale Noi elevated highway and photo opps).

This is page 3 of a 9-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to Previous Day             |         Go to Other Days         |             Go to Next Day >

Route Recommendations :
1. The route is relatively flat with spots of shade here and there.
2. March to June is the hot season in Thailand, it does get extremely hot. With the El Nino effect this year's day temperature shot up to almost forty degrees. Most of the main roads are unshaded, so do cover up and rehydrate frequently.
    We rode this stretch during the morning, it was a short ride and we were not much affected by the heat. 
3. There are cycling lanes at Ranot and on the Thanon Chaloem Phra Kiat 80 Phansa, a 6.5 km. elevated highway that connects Ranot to Thale Noi and runs through beautiful marshlands.
4. Places & Scenery
    - Do stop at the Thanon Chaloem Phra Kiat 80 Phansa, from here can be seen the wetlands and it gives a prelude of the wildlife that can be seen at the Thale Noi Waterfowl Reserve bird sanctuary.
    - Along the way can be seen Chinese Fishing nets, though not as big as the gigantic ones I saw at Kochi, they are still impressive.
    - Also can be seen are many road-side stalls selling dried salted/seasoned fish.
    - For bird-watchers, there is a viewing tower at the lake's edge in Thale Noi, but nothing beats taking a boat ride onto the lake.
    - We were there during the Songkran Festival (Thai new year), it's a good time to be in Thailand as the smiles, colour and joy of the people comes out even more.
5. Food
    - The Kruaphupun shop (GPS 7.783483, 100.345096) at Ranot sells quite decent porridge and dim sum.
    - A good place for breakfast/lunch is at the coffee shop in Thale Noi that serves excellent noodles and chicken rice (GPS 7.77662, 100.11772).
    - The Samkak Floating Restaurant (GPS 7.76794, 100.12179) at Thale Noi serve pretty decent food, but do watch out for mosquitos!
    - The night market at Thale Noi (GPS: 7.77838, 100.12303) has a good range of food; I especially like their style of Thai omelet. There is even a concert held at one end.
6. Accommodations
    We stayed at a P.C. Night Inn at Thale Noi (GPS: 7.77232, 100.11706). Rate is at 500 Bahts per room per night. I would recommend staying one night at Thale Noias it then allows an early morning boat trip to view Thale Noi Waterfowl Reserve bird sanctuary.
    For a list of accommodations in Thale Noi, click here.


PRELUDE

The day before we were baked, roasted, toasted and grilled on a super hot ninety kilometre ride from Songkhla to Ranot. It was the hot season in Thailand and this was compounded by the El Nino effect which took the day's temperature soaring to the forties. By the end of the day we were totally exhausted, had a quick dinner and retired for the day.
Today is a day we will be looking forward to, it is Songkran, the Thai new year, and the locals, all in their gaiety, were ready to celebrate it in their wet and colourful way; and we were keen to join them. Today we will also be meeting up with two members of our gang, Roger & Kit, who will be joining us in Thale Noi. Today, too, we will be having a much shorter ride of just about forty kilometres. We were slowly getting acclimatised but this shorter ride was a welcomed relief.



The route today will take us from Ranot to Thale Noi. via the Thanon Chaloem Phra Kiat 80 Phansa elevated highway. It is an interesting 6.5 km long highway that sits on piers over the marshy land of Lake Thale Noi. From this highway can be observed birds and other animals in their natural habitat.

We woke up to a beautiful sunrise at Ranot Beach, it augured a beautiful day!
Today is Songkran, the Thai new year and we will be taking a short (but beautiful) ride  to Thale Noi to celebrate the happy and colourful .... and also wet... occasion with the locals.


Breakfast was a first introduction to Thai style dim sum at Kruaphupun (GPS 7.783483, 100.345096), something almost similar to Chinese except things are slightly on the sweeter side. Also they only steam the dim sum only after customers select their choices.


Keat kissing a fake chicken.... see, he was missing his wife as he just got married recently.


Breakfast done, we prepped ourselves for the journey to Thale Noi.; most importantly was to cover our bags with their water-proof covers... we were ready to get Songkran wet but had to make sure that our luggage remained dry.
Yup! We are now ready for a wet battle.... BRING IT ON!
(Psssst..... seems like Keat still can't let go of that chicken! Poor guy really missed his wife.)


As we cycled along the roads in Ranot, we noticed that at the main roads there were cycling lane and they were clearly demarcated with road reflector studs so that they would be very noticeable at night!


This is one of my favourite photos for our tour. That's us along the road to Thale Noi, padi fields with palm trees swaying above are in front, an irrigation canal runs next to us, and more significantly a large Thai flag was fluttering in the wind to complete the photo.

Some views along the way:
Chinese fishing net were quite rampantly used at some of the rivers we rode by.


A shop harvested heads of dead buffaloes, gleaned and treat the skulls to be sold as decorative items.


Many road-side stalls along the way selling seasoned or dried salted fish.


We reached the Thanon Chaloem Phra Kiat 80 Phansa elevated highway; although only 6.5 km. long, in this flat marshland it seems to stretch on towards the horizon. Here there are bicycle lanes on both sides and at every hundred meters there are signs with posters showing photos and names of the birds and other wildlife that can be found here.


The highway sits on piers; presently it was the dry season and the water levels are low. During the wet season it goes higher and then the highway seems to run through a lake.

On both sides are marshland - wetlands were many birds were flocking, seeking food in the water...


Here too were water buffaloes grazing on the drier patches of land. While they were grazing on the grass; birds were  grazing on buffaloes, nibbling at insects of their backs. All this was a presage of Lake Thale Noi proper, one which we would be seeing the next day.


As we cycled along, who did we meet but our buddies Roger and Kit. They had come in by train to Phatthalung and stayed the previous night at Thale Noi. Instead of waiting for us at Thale Noi, they had decided to ride up the highway to meet us. It was a joyful meeting and our tour group were now complete... a magnificent seven!


During Songkran, accommodations were hard to come by but fortunately we managed to find a motel, the P.C. Night Inn just at the outskirts of Thale Noi (rate at 500 Bahts per room per night, GPS: 7.77232, 100.11706). Leaving our bags behind, we were ready to join the new year festivities in town. But first thing first, to protect our phones with the convenient water proof cover.


Just as we approached the town, the action had started. People at the road sides threw water at us or sprayed us continuously with water from garden hoses.


Some photos of the Songkran colourful and wet festivities:
Colourful teens on a truck, happily swaying to loud music from their boom boxes.


It's a watery battle between pedestrians and trucks.....


..... and between truck and truck with a poor motorcyclist caught in between!


The youngsters were the ones having the most fun, with big water guns shooting at anyone passing by. A big pail of water sits on their motor-tricycle to make sure that they do not run out of "ammo".


The splashing water is a giving of blessings.....


and as this little girl sprayed me, I just stood their with open arms happily receiving her  blessings. Shoot me.... shoot me.... bless me... bless me!


People not only got wet but also got colourful as they were wiped with coloured wet powder as they passed by armies with pails of of these


Our friend Kit was really into it, joining the locals to splash water.


Lunch time came and we adjourned to a corner shop in town (GPS: 7.77662, 100.11772) to have some keow teow soup and chicken rice, both of which were very nice.


And here I am, feeling  wet, colourful.... and very blessed.


Dinner was Samkak Restaurant (GPS 7.76794, 100.12179). It's a floating restaurant that served very good authentic Thai food. Their salad, local style was interesting - it had young crunchy bamboo shoots. Only complaint was that while we were feeding, mosquitoes were feeing on us.


After that it was to the local night market which is adjacent to the lake. It's a very noticeable place with two large colourfully lit  spinning wheels. Inside there were rows and rows of stalls selling clothes, luggage, mobile phones, etc. At one end was a stage with singing and dancing shows!


At the market, we especially like this Thai omelet fired with bean sprouts and other chopped vegetables. I got so hooked on this that later on at other towns I would go looking for it at their night markets.

Sook San Wan Songkran!
(that's Happpy Songkran Day in Thai)


Tomorrow will be a another great day, we will be going bird watching (real birds, not the two-legged human kind, heh! heh!)


This is page 3 of a 9-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to Previous Day             |         Go to Other Days         |             Go to Next Day >

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You may also like :
You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Cycling Thailand / Cycling South Thailand 2016 / Day 3 - A Wet & Colourful Day At Thale Noi     |     Go To D1 / D2 / D4 / D5 / D6 / D7 / D8-10 / D11-12
If you like this, view my other blogs at Jotaro's Blog
(comments most welcomed below. if you like this pls share via facebook or twitter)