I set the alarm five minutes earlier in hoping to reduce my "morning stress" and repeated the same actions as the morning prior; took out the battery charger, loaded the global positioning system. The 7/11 breakfast - raisin bread and a croissant - was hastily buried down in my stomach. I heard noises in the corridor; water running, suddenly recalling that I still had to shower. 

Got ready in time and hurried back the stairs to find Steve near his bike, his panniers already loaded. He showed me the damaged chain, he kept as a souvenir. I did not bring along a reserve chain as I saw the large tool needed to join the shackles. After all, this might have not been such a good idea, in view what occurred with Steve's bike. At the bike shop in Ayutthaya, the young lad told me not to worry about the chain; a broken chain seldom occurs. This was day 2 … and it happened… Murphy is the name … I concentrated myself on getting ready.

We left Uthai Thani in northern direction along road #3220 over Nong Phai Baen and Noen Chaeng until the crossing with road #3319, which we followed until Krok Phra. The latter has a bit of a funny name it owns to following story. Long time ago an old rich couple from Ayutthaya wanted to move a large Buddha image from Sukhothai to Ayutthaya over the Chao Phraya River. The statue was loaded on a wooden raft. Suddenly the raft broke away and the Buddha image sunk into the river. Hence the location was called Ban Krok Phra or the Village of the Washed Buddha. 

We took road #3005 over Takhian Luean to Nakhon Sawan, the "Heavenly City"; gateway to the Northern region and home to Thailand’s largest freshwater lake called Bueng Boraphet. Here the Ping and the Nan Rivers converged at Pak Nam Pho, melting their brown and greenish waters to become the mighty Chao Phraya River. 

Steve's Blackberry suddenly protested; all colors on its screen mangled into a painter's pallet; it must have been the spirit of Pak Nam Pho shrine, the spirit of the melting colors. Spirit or no spirit, Steve succeeded quickly to call the thing to order. Saddle pain became our permanent companion along this trip. 

Taking a break 

From Nakhon Sawan we followed more or less the right bank of the Ping River along road #1182, over Wat Sai, Ban Kaeng, Khao Din, Hu Kwang, Tha Ngio, and after a last rest stop around 1000 Hr we finally arrived at Banphot Phisai an hour later. Banphot Phisai is the northernmost district of Nakhon Sawan Province and a real hole of Pluto - the middle of Nowhere. 

Arrival at the Santisuk Guest House 

When preparing this trip, I searched "Hotels in Banphot Phisai" and found on Google Maps a Banphot Phisai Hotel right on our track. I phoned the place in order to make a reservation, but my correspondent was strange enough the female voice of an automatic telephone recorder of a hospital. I checked for an alternative, which I found indicated on the map a bit further up. 

Arrived at the location of the Banphot Phisai Hotel, we saw nothing more than - indeed - a hospital. We asked around for the Banphot Phisai Hotel, but nobody ever heard of the name. Afterwards I found out that Google Maps was incorrect in the translation of the Thai indication "Rong Phayaban Banphot Phisai", marking it in English as Hotel. On the map the word "Phayaban" was covered by the indicator, so I unfortunately missed it. We stopped near the police station at the main crossing of the roads #1073 and #1084. We found nothing else than our plan B - the Santisuk Guest House - which was also mentioned on the provincial tourist board. Our choice thus extremely limited, we biked there.

The Santisuk Guesthouse 

The guesthouse consisted of a number of bungalows with individual car park. We were pretty surprised to find a neat room with a good stock of Asian TV-channels and even a coffee & tea set. I'd chosen for Banphot Phisai as it spared us a few kilometers of bicycling, the other alternative was going to Phitsanulok.

Main problem here was the availability of food. The guest house manager indicated us a noodle shop next door. Now, noodles is not the food "par excellence" to bulk carbohydrates, but something is still better than nothing. We sat down at a round stone table amid the local crowd. Suddenly a lady appeared, looking a bit sturdy and wearing a mini-skirt; a bit of an unusual sight upcountry. She was quite versed in English and started the classic conversation. We noticed she was the sister of the noodle shop owner. As we queried after a restaurant close by for the evening, she asked if we wanted to visit hers. We inclined as we saw no other solution for dinner and made an appointment for 1800 Hr at the entry of the resort. In the afternoon we washed and splashed are cloths, maintained our bikes and took a nap.

Shortly before sunset we waited in front of the resort. As after a while the lady didn't showed up, we started to walk down the road towards the main crossing. After two hundred meters, a car braked. It was the restaurant owner. She excused herself for being late. We took place in the car and drove down to the restaurant; further than we initially thought. We settled in the garden around a bamboo table and a leaved roof. Music played deafening loud but was a bit later adjusted to normal proportions. We ordered our food. A large portion of French fries - the largest I'd ever seen in Thailand - was deposited on our table; probably a complete deep-freeze pack of fries laid on our plate.

It became a bit funny as a nice-looking girl grabbed an extra chair and came sitting with us, continuously filling up our drinks. Then another arrived and another... It was a strange, strange situation (in fact not really strange, as of course being long-stayers in the Land Of Smiles, we encountered girly bar work prior). None of the rural girls spoke English, so conversation stuck quickly. Skies cleared when more customers arrived on the grounds, and the girls, observing new chase, fled towards the karaoke room. The restaurant owner dropped by our table for a chat and after a while we felt the bed was calling. She kindly brought us back to the guest house, prior giving us time to shop for our next breakfast at the local 7/11. Friendly lady. 2100 Hr, the Sandman did his work and our soar bums went into recovery mode.

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