Saturday, May 7, 2016

Cycling South Thailand 2016: Day 7 - Wareerak Hot Spring Spa

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Cycling South Thailand 2016 : Day 7 - Wareerak Hot Spring Spa

Tour of South Thailand: Day 7, 17th April 2016
Small Group Cycling Tour Wang Wiset>Khlong Thom>Wareerak.
Cycling Distance - 56.46 km.     Level: Medium
Time : 6:15am to 12:40pm
Time Taken :  6hrs 25mins (including a couple of long breaks for rest in between, stops for rest and re-hydrating).

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Route Recommendations :
1. The route goes through mini dragon-backs that skirt and bend around rubber plantation foothills of the region. Not much shade along the way.
2. March to June is the hot season in Thailand, it does get extremely hot. With the El Nino effect this year's day temperature shot up to almost forty degrees. Most of the main roads are unshaded, so do cover up and rehydrate frequently.
3. Along most of the main roads, there are wide cycling lanes.
4. Places & Scenery
    - The hot spring at Khlong Thom is a favourite with locals. Do be warned though, the water does get quite hot (up to forty degrees).
    - Wareerak Resort Spa has it's own hot spring, so there's more privacy there.
5. Food
    - Wang Wiset has some coffee-shops at the town centre (which basically is just one street) that sells dim sum in the morning for breakfast, they are cheap and good. Some shops also sell noodles to go with the dim sum. We had our breakfast at one of these shops (GPS: 7.73658, 99.40384).
    - Wareerak serves quite good Halal meals for breakfast, lunch & dinner.
6. Accommodations
    We stayed the Wareerak Resort Spa (GPS: 7.93056, 99.20471). They have very nice rooms located within well landscaped grounds, their maintenance could be improved though. We stayed at rooms for two at a cost of 3,000 Bahts (i.e. 1,500 per head). There was a 1,000 Bahts for an extra bed. These charges includes free use of their hot spas and a hydrotherapy massage. Rooms have free Wifi, but at ours the signal strength was just too weak to be of any use.


PRELUDE


The previous day we had rode from Trang to Wang Wiset with an interesting detour to the Le Khao Kop Cave
After Wang Wiset, our original plan was to ride to Krabi, take a ferry over to  the islands of Ko Yau Noi & Ko Yau Yai situated within Phang Nga Bay the spend two days there before taking another ferry to Phuket. But the distance from Wang Wiset to Krabi was close to a hundred kilometres. Having learnt our lesson of how difficult it is to cycling long distances in very hot weather (i.e. during our second day), we decided to cut the distance by half and spend a night mid-way and stay one night at the islands only. That's how we ended up in Khlong Thom.



THE RIDE

 

Cycling Route Wang Wiset>Khlong Thom>Wareerak.
Cycling Distance - 56.46 km.     Level: Medium
The route took us onto mini dragon-backs that meander round the rubber plantations foothills of the area. We stopped at Khlong Thom and pampered ourselves with a lovely stay at Wareerak Spa Resort.


6:00am - We have learnt to start the day early to try to avoid the heat, after all by six in the morning, the skies were already getting bright.
Mr. Klinchan had also woke up an hour early to make sure that we had hot water for our morning drink... very decent of him and his family to do that. The Tonyo Greenview Resort is named after the Tonyo tree on the right (the one below the signboard).

We said our goodbyes to him (he did look a bit teary-eyed) and rode off into town to have dim-sum breakfast together with sum porridge. This shop (GPS: 7.73658, 99.40384) had one difference from the others, they deep-fry their own Yau Char Kwai and Ham Chim Peng at one corner of the shop.


Nearby, a lady had presented alms to a monk and was receiving prayers in returned. Well, it's never to early to have good blessings. I always admire the Thais, this was all so natural to them, no airs about it, no pretentious actions.

7:15am - We started our ride to head for Khlong Thom. The roads were similar to the day before - undulating, sloping up and down while they snaked round the hill slopes filled with rubber trees.

We passed by several sights; first was this large golden Buddha statue with a smaller shrine of a Laughing Buddha next to it ...

... and this lady riding pillion, sitting with legs all to one side. It always amazes me how they can keep their balance sitting one sided like this.

8:15am - A stop for rest at a convenient shaded bus stop.

We must be pretty close to the sea now, along the road side were shops selling rattan fishing traps. And the cross-winds were getting so strong that Yong Sin was cycling in a crouching position.

9:30am - It's only mid-morning and the weather was getting hot already. We made a quick detour to this cosy shop for drinks and relaxation. It was so cosy that we lingered on for almost an hour here; just chilling, chatting while Roger and Yong Sin were searching the internet for places to stay in Khlong Thom.


The hot weather burns up energy fast and one can get hungry soon. Here's Sin with his version of meals-on-wheels, eating a bun he had bought earlier.

A large sign stating the Emerald Pool is twenty kilometres away, perhaps we shall visit it as locals claim the place to be very picturesque.

10:55am - We reach Khlong Thom town; Roger & Yong Sin had decided that we shall stay at the Wareerak Resort Spa and were checking their GPS unit on how to get their. The thing is Wareerak showed up as several spot on Google Maps and this was confusing them.
While the were figuring it out, the rest of us had a quick look around; took this scenic photo of a bridge (GPS: 7.93714, 99.14313) spanning across a stream. The bridge led to the market on the left. By now, most of the stalls in the market were closing.

Further ahead was the police kiosk (that's what they call the check-point in Thailand), well it was a check-point and a kiosk with officers manning it. One can go their for assistance, just like we did. We approached on officer (a Mr. Sumran Sudchit) as asked for directions to Wareerak. In quite good English he said, "Oh... the Nam Tok Ron (that's Thai for Hot Water Spring)!" And he gave us proper directions. I salute you sir!

With his directions we went riding in, further along it became easier us there were ample directional signboards.
Along the way, we stopped at this stall selling coconuts, the first one we have seen since we started our cycling seven days back. They served green coconuts that had been chilled in a large ice box. They also had de-husked coconuts (where the flesh have been exposed at the top section) like the one Yong Sin is having at the background of the above photo. I also had one of the de-husked ones and was soon snoozing on a hammock.
 Little did we know that these two coconuts would have a significant impact on our tour! (read later day blogs to find out).

Time for some macro photography with my new Olympus TG-4 camera. Above is a bunch of pink frangipanni flowers, beautiful aren't they. (Taken at a roadside tree near the coconut stall).

This one is of a fully bloomed Bunga Kantan (Torch Ginger Flower or Curry Flower), taken at the Wareerak resort.

A Scops Owl, taken at the "ต้นปาล์ม Coffee & Kitchen" home-stay (GPS: 7.93986, 99.20722). It was the owners pet. We almost stayed at this home-stay but decided not to as it was quite a distance from the hot springs. Just for those who are curious, their charges is 200 Bahts per pax for a two bed-room chalet. With breakfast it is 300 Bahts.

This is the laterite road leading to Wareerak, some distance after the junction of the Khlong Thom public hot spring. There is actually a direct route that cuts through the public hot spring, but to go through that, one will have to pay the entrance fee of 90 Baht per person.

This is Wareerak - Beautiful chalets on ground full of landscaping. That's Sin half undressed cycling out to the hot spring just after we checked in.

That's us at the On-sen hot spring just outside Wareerak. There were several pools with varying temperatures from warm to extra hot, the extra hot one had temperatures reaching to above 40 degrees Celcius.

Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! It's hot! It's hot! And this was only the warm pool with temperatures of 28 to 36 degrees.

My lunch, fried rice happily presented, other than this we had vegetable soup (spicy), stir-fried Thai style mince pork (good), 

And for desserts, this very nice and sweet mango.

Here we are at another hot pool, Wareerak's private pool which was very clean. The Thai ladies were giving us the hydrotherapy massage that was included in the resort one-night stay package of 1,500 Bahts per person. The massage included an organic scrub that used a mixture of grounded rice with lemon-grass oil and kaffir lime leaves.

Our dinner, Tomyum (very good), stir-fried cuttlefish (okay), stir-fried mixed vegetables (good). Not in the photo were Som Tam (very good) and Thai omelet (again???)

We retired early and hoped for a good night's rest after the relaxing massage.
BUT THIS WAS NOT TO BE!
(Read next day's blog to find out why!)


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