Any plans to have a long lie in after the Satun International Century Ride were quickly put to rest. We had about 150km / 93mi to cover from Satun to Hat Yai, via an extended route which would take us around Songkhla Lake.
We were all present and accounted for at the entrance of the SinKiat Buri Hotel at 7.30am.
Our first task upon rolling out was to scan the streets for a place to eat breakfast. We didn’t see anything that looked promising for the first couple of kilometers. 7 Eleven came to mind, but Leslie reminded us that convenience stores should be our choice of last resort. He had a point.
Then we found this place, selling packets of nasi lemak, just like we get at home. But with a Thai twist. The nasi lemak came with a variety of toppings to choose from. Fish, or shrimp, or egg, or plain sambal.
I had already grabbed some pulut with kaya (sticky rice with coconut jam) as well.
We were on the only road that links Satun province with Songkhla province to the north. Route 406, like the other roads we had already ridden on in Thailand, was wide and smooth. And in this case it was a dual carriageway.
About 27km / 17mi outside Satun we were diverted to the opposite side of the dual carriageway. The northbound side of the road was closed. A bad accident perhaps?
A few minutes later we saw the reason for the diversion. There was a row of more than a dozen double decker buses like this one parked on the road.
All waiting to load passengers coming out of this place.
I can’t find any information about Satun Cowboy Land, so why hundreds of people were there remains a mystery.
1o kilometers later we were riding through the karst outcrops that mark the border into Songkhla province.
It was turning into another hot day. We had planned to stop for a drink every 30km / 19mi or so, and we stuck to that plan. Our first rehydration stop had been just past Satun Cowboy Town.
At about 60km / 37mi we were in Ban Na Si Thong. We bought large Sunkist orange and milky green tea drinks here. There was enough Sunkist in my drink that I could dilute it three times over from the water dispenser near our table.
We were grateful that the Thais are also not stingy with ice. The drinks come loaded with ice, and are often accompanied with a bucket of more ice. We were always able to keep our bottles topped up with ice.
By noon we had covered 75km / 47mi. The temperature was up around 38°C / 100°F. Too hot to ride a further 15km / 9mi before stopping again.
A 7 Eleven in Khuan Niang to the rescue!
We felt much better after fifteen minutes in air conditioning.
Lunch was about forty five minutes away. We may have been smiling on the bridge at Ban Pak Ro, but we were hot and hungry.
We found a great restaurant on the other side of the bridge.
We were on the water, in the shade, under a fan, with cold drinks in hand. (Note the blue ice bucket on the table). We kicked back there for almost two hours.
Oh! We did eat too.
We roused ourselves and got back onto our bikes at 3.40pm. We had 55km / 34mi to go to Hat Yai, and we wanted to get there before sunset at about 6.0pm.
The 10km / 6mi from the restaurant was the only bad section of road we encountered during the entire 430km / 267mi tour through southern Thailand. We felt right at home. Which is a bit sad!
The next landmark was Ko Yo island in Songkhla Lake.
30km / 19mi to go to Hat Yai. We had been riding long enough from lunch that we needed a drink and to refill our bottles for the stretch to our final destination.
There are lots of roadside drinks stalls to choose from. All identifiable by the rows of syrups and cordials on display.
There is nothing quite like an ice cold Coke!
There was about an hour before sunset. So Philip and Leslie proceeded to pull us along at 31kph / 19mph for the next thirty minutes. Then we made the left turn onto Lopburi Ramesuan Road, heading south into central Hat Yai.
We had prebooked the hotel in Satun, but had not done the same for Hat Yai. So it was hotel hunting time. We were turned away from the first two hotels we tried, when we revealed that we intended to take our bikes up to our rooms.
While Lay – our designated negotiator – was trying for the third time to get us into a hotel, the Lee Gardens Plaza, I struck up a conversation outside with a security guard. He was quite impressed that we had ridden from Satun, and was interested in our bikes and saddle packs.
When Lay returned with the news that once again we wouldn’t be allowed to take our bikes into our rooms, the security guard was not pleased. He immediately pulled out his walkie talkie, and after thirty seconds of conversation – the only word I understood was “Satun” – he ushered us all, bikes included, into the hotel.
If you visit Hat Yai, stay in the Lee Gardens Plaza Hotel. Especially if you bring your bicycle!!
Showered and changed, we wandered along Prachathipat Road looking for a nice place to eat. We chose Jaepen Restaurant, on the basis of a stall at the entrance selling leng chee kang (a sweet drink or dessert containing lotus seeds, longans, lily bulbs, dried persimmons, and malva nuts).
The leng chee kang turned out to be a bit of a bust, but the food was excellent.
Not only is the food in Thailand delicious, it is also cheap. We had steamed grouper, omelette with crab meat, squid in curry sauce, fried shrimp with petai, fish and shrimp cake, and white rice. Plus two bowls of leng chee kang and two bowls of bubur cha cha (a Nyonya dessert of bananas, sweet potatoes, taro, and sago pearls cooked in pandan -flavoured coconut milk).
All for THB 1,820. Or RM46 / USD10 per person. So there was enough cash left over for a mango with sticky rice dessert on the way back to the hotel.
It had been a long and hot day. Add a full stomach. No wonder I was ready to hit the sack. Day 4 to come.