I had been invited for breakfast with the army guys so once I’d packed up my stuff I headed over. No one was around so I decided to sit down and wait a while. After a bit I went for a walk and spied a group of soldiers in the middle of some kind of drill. I didn’t want to leave without saying goodbye, but I also didn’t want to disrupt whatever army business was going on. Perhaps only another cycle tourist will understand how frustrating it is to be ready to start the day, but then sit around doing nothing as the sun gets higher in the sky and the day hotter along with it. After a while a guy came past the kitchen and said something in Thai while making a gesture at the empty chairs. I recognised the word kao, which is the number nine. As my mind ticked over I realised he had told me that everyone has breakfast at 9am. To stay for breakfast would mean starting my ride nearly three hours later than usual and facing the extreme heat of the day, which I need to avoid for the sake of my health and sanity. I decided to leave. Just as I was wheeling my bike away, a soldier approached and told me to stop. He had seen me waiting around the kitchen and had cottoned on to the situation. I was led back to the kitchen, where this very kind soldier served us both some rice and vegetables and sat down to eat with me. When we were done, he took me over to the other soldiers, who included many of the guys I’d made friends with last night. A series of goodbyes and farewell photos followed.

To make progress before the midday heat became depressing, I rode over 60km without stopping, reaching a little restaurant where I hid from the sun while filling my stomach with delicious food. I was determined to reach Songkhla by the end of the day, so I didn’t rest as long as I should have and it was still boiling hot when I resumed my ride. I made my target but I was deliriously exhausted when I arrived. To my delight, I quickly discovered that Friday night is market night and the place I’d chosen to stay was just a short walk away from two long streets bustling with food stalls. I spent a couple of hours walking up and down, eating anything that looked good until I couldn’t fit anymore more in my fat stomach. On my menu were spring rolls, roasted chicken, fried insects and a couple of fruit shakes.

Day 456 (pic)

Saying bye

Accommodation $ Guesthouse
Distance ridden today 95.19km
Average cycling speed 18.2kph
Total distance ridden 11,742km