The sun is already high when we reach Pak Bara. We cycle our first kilometres in Thailand in the heat and facing a strong wind. Even if we are not used to cycle long afternoons, we don’t want to lose that day and manage to cycle 75km. On our way, we meet a couple of cyclists from Quebec and have a nice chat with them, exchanging our experiences of Thailand and Malaysia. We end up in a motel owned by a charming lady who cannot speak a word of English, except “beautiful”, but is very welcoming. A good start in Thailand!
The next days, we try to take the small roads which are much hillier than the highway but surrounded by nice little villages. The beautiful rubber trees now add up to the palm trees plantations. We take a relax afternoon in the swimming pool of an hotel south of Krabi, but are too lazy to cycle to the beach.
We pass by a mangrove but the entrance fees are too expensive and we decide to pass our way. We spend another night in a motel where the family is so friendly that we end up cooking in their kitchen. It gives us the opportunity to finally cook the leftover food from Singapore. It was about time and this will lighten our bags.
Everyday the landscape is more dramatic with steep rocks overrun by jungle. We spend our first night in tent in Khlong Phanom National Park. Unfortunately, the camping is at the very beginning of the park and we hear a karaoke until late. It doesn’t stop us from waking up early to watch the sunrise from a viewpoint in the jungle. As the park has not open yet, we are the only ones exploring the jungle. We even spot some moving branches which we think are gibbon monkeys. Back at the camp, one of our bags with some accessories for the stove is missing, probably grabbed by a dog. The staff and the rangers are very helpful and help us for two hours to look for it around the camp but we eventually leave empty-handed.
We are getting close to Ratchaprapha dam and Khao Sok National Park. Both amazing places but also expensive so we make a choice and head directly towards Khao Sok. The last kilometres in the woods are rocky and hilly and we end up pushing the bikes on a few steep slopes.
We take the opportunity of our break day to book a trek to look for the rafflesia, which is the biggest flower in the world and takes its name from Stamford Raffles, the founding father of modern Singapore.
The next morning, we are amazed to enter the jungle surrounded by the sound of the cicadas, hornbills and other birds but we are especially fascinated by the song of the gibbons. Unfortunately, we cannot spot them in the bushy foliage but we see a few bushy crested hornbills and a langur monkey who observes us perched on a high branch. The walk is very nice, but quite sweaty, and there is not much tourist there (most of the tourist go for the tubbing in Sok river or the dam nearby).
Once we reach the top of the hill, we found a lot of rafflesia. Most of them are either rotting or about to bloom but not opened yet, but we are lucky to find one fully opened. They bloom only for 3 to 5 days. We were super excited to see it as we still hadn’t seen one after three years in Southeast Asia.
After this restful day, we start cycling again the long road towards Bangkok which is still more than 750 kilometres away.
See more photos in the gallery.