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Blazing Saddles: Peddle, paddle, pain au chocolat

One early morning last week, I discovered the meaning of life and also the secret of eternal youth, which is not a bad morning’s work for what started as a routine bike ride in southern Phuket.

By Baz Daniel

Sunday 1 January 2023, 11:00AM

As this year’s extended rainy-season showed signs of dissipating we’ve been blessed with some gorgeous mornings following nights of relentless rain and this particular Wednesday was one of them. The world was asparkle with the remnants of the previous night’s deluge and at 6:30am the sun was rising with diamondiferous intent as if wanting to paint everything it touched with a magical, silvery glow.

I jumped ‒ or as I recently turned 74, “gingerly climbed” is probably more accurate ‒ onto the saddle of my Italian road bike and headed south from Chalong and on to Rawai beachfront. Ramshackle elegance seemed to poke from every corner of this slightly down-at-heel waterfront enclave, with a small Armada of beached long-tails languishing on the silty littoral, while a cluster of ciggie-smoking boaties skulked under the palm fronds, possibly celebrating the recent return of the legions of tourists.

Onward I pedalled on the back road to the top of Promthep Cape, my ancient heart fairly pumping as I dropped by to pay my respects at the elephant shrine, beside the venerable lighthouse with the cape’s immaculate, island-dotted, oceanic vistas beyond.

‘Pedalling’ then, is the first of the three P’s which make up my slightly eccentric solution to the meaning of life, but on a stunning post-monsoonal morning such as this, I can think of no better way to start the day and celebrate the beauty of simply being alive than a vigorous pedal to the pinnacle of Promthep Cape and a ‘thank you’ to the pachyderms!

Of course, what goes up must subsequently come down and so it was that my next thrill was to hurtle at gravity’s behest down the steeply winding hill to a largely deserted Yanui Beach. Here, my old pal Khun Wan and his sons were laying out their early morning rental kayaks, canoes and paddle boards onto the beguiling sands. For just B100, I rented a kayak and set off to paddle around romantic Koh Man as the waters were pretty calm and Khun Wan said the wind was not going to carry me off over the horizon into oblivion!

There was something almost hypnotic about the constant gentle rhythm of paddling as my mind became mesmerised by the scurrying black fiddler crabs dancing across the sea-lashed rocks and a pair of nesting hornbills squawked and frolicked in the trees above my head. I circled Koh Man in about 30 minutes then had a sea swim to loosen up my tired body.

Mixing cycling with other forms of exercise has proven to be the best way to maximise overall health and fitness and abundant scientific research supports the notion that exercising in, or near, water is excellent for both mental and physical wellbeing. So, combining a bike ride with activities which take advantage of our island’s beautiful maritime environment makes a lot of sense.

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So, my second ‘P’ in the answer to life’s meaning was paddling!

Finally, I cycled around to the beautiful beachside terrace of Rock Salt restaurant within the sumptuous Nai Harn Resort to gather the final ‘P’ in my Elixir of Life and it’s here that the true magic of this equation kicks in.

I found a superb spot overlooking the silvery sands of Nai Harn Beach, looking back toward the ramparts of Promthep Cape from whence I’d pedalled. I ordered a freshly-brewed cappuccino and with it, the final ‘P’ in the meaning of life… the most gorgeous pain au chocolat and as I sat there savouring my delicious treat, an epiphany overtook me. This was it! This very moment of well-earned reward following vigorous exercise in the most beautiful of locations, was as good as it ever gets, or is ever going to get.

We are told endlessly to be present and ‘in the moment’, and here was a moment of supreme reward and pleasure for doing just that. Just being. Just fully feeling the benefits of those three P’s was as good as life gets!

Pedal, paddle then pain au chocolat  and PARADISE awaits you!

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solar_serfer | 05 January 2023 - 08:36:20

inspiring. cheers. 


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