From Chantaburi, it's a 50 miles of pretty flat and straight road to the ferry port towards Koh Chang. A range of mountains in the North make a nice scenery, and a magnificent granite temple at Klong is well worth a morning prayer.
A group of Thai cyclists parks beside my bike at a resting place. They are from Rayong, heading for Koh Chang too. Two days to ride there, one night stay and then two days cycling back, that's their plan. Tough lads. We ride together to the ferry, crossing a few steep hills. Rather exhausted I arrive at the port. Or were my legs just too sore? The ferry goes a few minutes later, and my Thai cyclists give me some advice about the island. The famous beaches are on the West Coast, with really steep hills to climb in between. We can see the 700 metres high mountains already from the ferry, nice outlook. Alright – too much for me today – I just make it to village in the North on the first day. Few tourists here, good quality guesthouses for reasonable prices, a waterfall to visit yet unfortunately no beach really nearby.
Malena, my friend from Sweden wrote she will come to Bang Bao, a fishing town in the Southwest. Perfect, so I'll go there too. Haven't seen her in more than a year – that would be nice. The hills on the way are killers, to steep to cycle, at least with the luggage on the bike. I end up pushing the bike uphill through the nice jungle. Blood, sweat and tears, once again. The downhill parts are thrilling. Those famous beaches – "White Sand Beach", "Lonely Beach" etc. - you can barely see them from the road. Concrete walls and bungalows and hotels and heaps of fancy restaurants on the side of the road block the sight. Tourist tractor beam, here we go again.
Bang Bao is different, feels more like a local village in a beautiful bay, surrounded by wild forested hills. There are a few inexpensive down-to-earth restaurants and shops before the expensive seafood restaurants on the quai. Bungalow resorts on the beaches are rather expensive, anyhow... The wooden pier with two huts on a beach is inviting me for Tai Chi and a morning swim.
Malena finds my sipping coffee on the tourist pier – happy day.
We rent a motorbike on the next day, spend a splendid time on a small beach for ourselves, visit a wonderful waterfall in the jungle and oops – my camera drops off from the backpack into the pool underneath. I rescue it, and after a couple of days it is even working again. We finish our trip watching a marvelous sunset from a hill, above some small islands. An almost full moon between the horns of a buffalo skull. Incredible time...
After Malena has left Koh Chang, I move to the Hippi Huts, an inexpensive basic style bungalow resorts run by a Thai Rasta. Good vibes here, and few more great days relaxing, reading, studying, chating with Anton, a Russian cyclists.
Getting closer to the end of my 14-days stay allowance, I pack and head back to Cambodia, intending to go on via Ko Kong towards Shianoukville. Ken, the Thai cyclist had recommended a bicycle shop in Trat, that would possible repair the broken front suspension. Getting there, I learn they would have to order the pieces which takes at least a week. Well then, at least I get new front bearings and a new chain. 50 USD, not really a special offer. On the way out I spend another splendid two-day stopover on Had Chuen, a bungalow resort on a beach with very few tourists but really friendly staff close to Ban Mai Rut. Bernard, a Swiss-French cyclist is there, gives me some information on the road to Shianoukville and being a real Physiotherapist, treats my hurting wrist. Good times, good by Thailand!