Saturday, December 10th, 2016
You okay? Yeah, it's just that my mouth is on fire. And my lips. And my nose is running. And my cheeks are sweating? When the waiter says "are you sure you want the hot and spicy soup?", maybe it's time to second guess that choice. I've lived in Mexico, I figure how bad can it be?
But first there's 155 kilometers to be ridden. I actually don't mind doing these kinds of highway rides from time to time, they are a challenge to just ride as fast and as far as I can, mindless effort with not much navigation as I'm on the same highway for most of the day.
When I wake up it's pouring rain. I'm thinking I've got a whole lot of misery ahead of me but I check the radar and it doesn't look too bad, I just wait it out for a couple of hours. As soon as it stops around 8:30 I hit the road, on back roads to Chumphon then through the city to the highway.
6 hours of highway punctuated by the occasional stop at these rest areas they have, always with the same configuration: a big gas station, a 7-11, a Cafe Amazon, a couple of restaurants, and a bunch of stands selling lottery tickets and street food. When the sun comes out it's hot as hell. I navigate the scooters, the cars and trucks parked on the shoulder, the vehicles driving in the wrong direction. It feels good to just crank the pedals. At 120k I book a place about 30 kilometers down the road, next to the highway, no tourism or beach tonight. My mission is to get to the west coast as soon as possible, maybe tomorrow if I have another big day. Just a kilometer before my guesthouse I run into a major police presence. They are pulling over lots of cars, searching and checking papers. What's really strange about it is that police and what I think are military are hiding behind various structures along the side of the road and jumping out to stop cars. This on top of the checkpoint everyone is going through on the highway itself. I don't know what's up but it makes for a strange atmosphere.
So back to that soup. I ride the bike half a kilometer north to the nearest restaurant. A nice place and the waiter speaks English. I don't really know what I'm doing when ordering Thai food so I just picks something new. The waiter tries to talk me out of it. "It's really hot", he says. "Okay", I reply, "I like spicy". He comes back with "Are you sure?". Yes. How bad can it be? Holy shit, it's bad. I'm not two spoonfuls into and I'm already sweating buckets. I can only eat it really slowly. The waiter brings me a liter and a half bottle of water. Right on. I need the whole thing to get this soup down. My entire digestive system is on fire. By far the hottest thing I've ever eaten. Afterwards I feel strange, like my head is really clear and I'm a bit giddy. My body doesn't know what to make of this. I sniffle my way back to the guesthouse (nice place by the way).