Yala to Narathiwat
Hopping off the train, I noticed two other Odyssey riders loading themselves onto the back of a tuk tuk truck. It was quite a site to see because their were 16 people in the back of the tuk tuk. They were crammed in like sardines, they motioned for me to join them. I was happy to pass, motioning to my trusty bicycle and saying I would follow them. I had serious doubts that the tuk tuk could even move with that load in the back, but it did. Slowly they pulled out of the train station, I followed alongside, peddling at a normal speed all the while managing to keep up with them.
The tuk tuk lead me in the right direction out of town, once again I felt very lucky to be able to use my resources (friends) to help find the way. After awhile the tuk tuk pulled ahead of me, leaving me to navigate the distance alone. Considering there was only one road to Narathiwat, I wasn’t worried.
Riding by myself, off route, I was able to enjoy the pleasures of being the only foreign cyclist on the road. In general, I was given some rather curious looks, but eventually welcomed with a warm smile after I smiled first. I was quite an anomaly being a lone female and on a bike no less. Apparently it seems women just don’t travel alone in Thailand and the ones that do are considered to be strange. I am glad I didn’t disappoint them!
It wasn’t long before I was back on route, riding with several Odyssey people who were on their way to the hotel. I got there ahead of the crowd and the heat. Today the train was a good idea.
Narathiwat is the summer home of the Thai King and a fishing community. I was happy to be invited to go with a group of folks to a batik factory and take a tour of the city. We boarded the ever trusty little tuk tuk, paying the driver the total sum of $2 for the entire load of us!
We got to visit two batik factories, one being a “cottage industry” in the back of someone’s home. It was an interesting place, but none of the fabrics on sale were colorful enough for me. I wanted something vibrantly colored and they only offered muted pastel colors. Not my style.
The larger factory was a real “sweat shop”. They had more choices of colors, but none of them were ready for sale. They were selling batik t-shirts and table clothes for $1.20. Such a deal, if you are in the market for them. I was mostly interested in seeing how the process in done. For the most part I was not impressed of the surroundings, it is hard to believe that a nice finished product could be born in a place like this. It was an open, dirty area full of dust, farm animals and birds.