4. Surat Thani-Phuket
290 km, including side trip through the forest at Phang Na.
This leg of the trip was so far the most relaxing and beautiful. The highway winds through hilly terrain, rubber, banana and palm oil plantations (palm trees), dotted with dramatic, towering limestone karst formations, familiar to the movie lovers from the James Bond film "The Man With The Golden Gun", filmed here.
There was hardly any traffic, however also very few gas stations.
I was lucky to make it to this one, see picture of the service attendant below.
Which makes me think that the last time I pumped my own gas was in the US.
(It is actually a shame how much service quality got lost over time in the so-called developed nations of the West, as a result of laying people off in order yo increase the profit for the shareholders. This is true for many more sectors of the economy, not just gas stations.)
|I was happy to get to this Shell station, never mind the higher cost versus Thai petrol stations.|
I even got some dirt road riding in today when I left the highway in search for a remote bay at the Andaman Sea.
I reached Patong Beach, Phuket, in the afternoon where traffic again was the familiar bumper-car style craziness. I will stay here until early next week.
|Tranquil setting, wonderful ride|
With this section of the trip I have reached the southern-most point of my entire journey. From here the equator is only some 500 miles away.
The further south I rode the more mosques line the roads. Almost every little village has a mosque, most of them small and modest, and all of them rather ugly. I wonder what makes Thais choose to switch from Theravada Buddhism, the most peaceful and non-threatening religion in the world, to Islam. Maybe most of the Muslims I saw in the villages are not converted Buddhist but ethnic Malay. The Malaysian border is not far, and with its proximity increases the influence of Islam.
|Small mosque, the men gather for 12.30 p.m. prayer.|
|I don't know what this little creature is called, but it is cute.|
|Riding without a helmet. It will either be a hefty fine, or worse, the bike gets pounded until tomorrow.|