Stepping carefully around the malodorous pools of run-off from the bloody butcher's tables and the fishmonger's trays, the closed eyes of severed pig heads follow us until we begin to breathe freely again in the safety of the fruit and vegetable section. Beyond, the prepared food stalls offer an expanse of flavours and tastes from sugar-laden delicasies to spicy curries. Thailand's gregarious food markets appear to be holding their own against the modern imperial power of Tescos, Big C and Seven Eleven that have arrived into almost every town in the country. In the evening, night markets are set up in plazas or cordoned-off streets and the eating continues. Markets offer choice, the cheapest prices and also a preview of what you can order which is always helpful when communication is difficult.
Krabi market 8 a.m.
Soya milk and steam buns
For the staples of part-time self-catering we find ourselves as much parked outside the supermarket as the local market and after a breakfast of fish, rice and steam buns in Krabi's market we rode out of town, stopping at Big C for some snacks and supplies. We met Troy as he pulled in on his loaded Trek 520. We were both headed south and he caught up with us a few kilometres down the road and we've spent the past couple of days riding to the Malaysian border and sleeping in temples. Troy began his tour six months ago in Beijing. Along the way, a French cyclist, Orellion, also joined us for a day as we continued south in the steamy heat and daily storms.
Morning at the temple
A Buddhist practice of releasing captured birds and fish on important dates such as New Year or one's birthday means you see a lot of bird cages in Thailand
On our first evening with Troy we had eaten dinner and then turned up at the temple opposite looking for a place to pitch up. A short man with broken English came up and insisted we follow him to his house. We followed the taillight of his scooter in the darkness a short distance up the road and he opened up a door into a large sitting room where we were offered seats while floor mats materialised. Snacks and cans of Singha followed as our host demonstrated his proficiency on an extensive array of instruments in the room. His six year-old daughter was very excited at her new guests and ran shyly between her smiling grandmother who sat on the floor and her mother who hovered in the back of the house. As nextdoors wedding party winded down in the middle of the street, our host moved between us and the party before finally wishing us good night as we all dived under a family-sized neon pink mosquito net. The following morning we were treated to bowls of rice porridge and bread.
Last night we arrived into Satun, having waved goodbye to Orellion after lunch when he took a turn to a village that he had previously worked in. After finding the cheapest bed in town we went out to eat a Himilayan portion of fried rice with seafood. Back at the guesthouse, Ellie had made friends with a little kitten and since there was no space to push the beds apart, all four of us - kitten included - bedded down together under the weak fan that didn't do much to alleviate the hot night air.
Four in the bed
Pedalled: 60,026 km