A little jaunt through Thailand
Day 1, Bangkok. We arrived darned late, but Kim had booked ahead, a place called the Tower Inn. It was cheap, so we figured it wouldn't be too crazy. Instead we find ourselves on the 42nd floor of a high-rise hotel. This is the view from our amazing hotel room.
Day 2, Ayuttaya. We rose early, and caught a Samlor (think 3 wheels and terrifying) to the Train station, where we caught a train to Ayuttaya. We snag a cheap ($3 / night) room at a Japanese hotel, and then set out exploring. There were loads of ruins, including a buddha head captured by tree roots.
Day 3, Ayuttaya. We decided to stay on a little while in Ayuttaya, at least enough to take in all the temples we had not gotten to the day before. Our bike rentals were slightly better than the day before, so we managed to cover a good deal of ground before moving on around mid-afternoon.
The bus did not in fact take us all the way to our destination, Kanchanaburi, so we instead had to hole up in a small town midway between. The hotel was way the hell out of town, so we did not in fact explore much (at all), but it was a _nice_ hotel, and we managed nicely. This hotel was part of the Thani chain of hotels, which introduced us to the chain we would use for much of our remaining stay.
Day 4, Bridge over the river Kwai. Next morning, bright and early, we caught the bus to Kanchanaburi. Upon our arrival we snagged a place to stay and headed out on the town. Finding a bike rental ran by a guy who probably stole forty bucks from me (more on that later) we headed out to see the sights by bike. First heading to a temple built into a cavern system, we stop by the graveyard where the soldiers are buried, then climb the hill to where a monk is preparing the shrine, and admire the amazing view the location commands. We next headed to the bridge proper, by way of backroads and sprinkles (which produced a nice rainbow). The bridge itself was nothing but a big tourist trap, but there were some nice views and a load of tacky shops which allowed me to procure some seriously goofy kitsch. We then headed back to the bike rental place, which was also an English bookstore. I asked the guy if he would ship me some books, and he said he would. I paid him, and I'm still waiting. Such is life in the big... world.
Day 5, Hat Yai. Next morning we snag a ride back to Bangkok, then back to somewhere completely unknown (we actually left the bus at the first stop and caught the bus back to where we started). By the time we got back there was a rainstorm, so we just grabbed a taxi and went to the airport. We then caught a standby flight into Hat Yai, arriving around 8pm. *sigh* But the Hotel was OK and the city was lively and full of shops and people and so forth.
Day 6, Satun. Next day, we checked the schedules to be sure we could get back to the airport to make our flight home, then caught a slow bus to Satun. Arriving about mid-day, we grab another Thani hotel (with the most amazing view!!), and then head out exploring, seeing the (small) town and exploring what is where. We ran into lots of friendly children, including Chani, who wanted us to take his picture.
Day 7, Rainforest. We catch a pickup truck (songthaew) at noon to take us to the national park. He drops us off and assures us he will be back at four. So we head in. At the front is a large lake. Many frogs surround the walkway through the lake. We head on in to the trails, taking the shorter trail. I regret wearing Tevas as the terrain is somewhat difficult, and becomes more so as the day goes on. Finally, we come to the conclusion we have lost the path altogether. Thankfully, we are able to find our way out. We then head back to the refreshment stand for a drink. It is then that Kim notices the Leech. A check reveals three for me, five for her. We spend much of the rest of the day trying to staunch the bleeding. Waiting for our scary pickup we notice a tree which stands out from all the others (a sign we had lots to do while waiting). Heading back to the hotel, we relax and catch yet another amazing sunset from the room.
Day 8, Island hopping. The next morning we make an earlier start of it to go to a little town on the coast where we can get to the islands. We charter a boat (a little weaselly guy 'helps' us decide by offering the fact that we won't be able to stay very long if we don't get our own boat, a statement we later found to be false. Nevertheless, it was a nice way to travel), and head off to the park. Inside we find loads of random creatures, and unfortunately loads of construction, as they are building new bungalows to allow even more people to stay on the island. However, this did not stop us from also seeing monkeys, and several seriously cool varieties of birds including the swift. The water was amazingly warm, and the day was very pleasant, a nice way to wrap up a trip to Thailand. The boat ride home is a touch hairier, as a storm or two rolled in to make the waters somewhat choppy. But the rain didn't catch us until we were almost in, and then we boarded a songthaew and were off to Satun. We then packed and prepared.
Day 9, over and out. Woke up early and made a last circuit of the city. Caught the slow bus (again!) to Hat Yai. In Hat Yai we went shopping, had lunch, and shopped some more. All the necessities of home, like coconut milk and hot sauce and Curry paste. Delicious! We had to buy a spare bag to contain all the foodstuffs we had procured. Finally, we caught a bus to the airport and caught the flight to Bangkok, which went off smoothly. In Bangkok we expected something evil for customs (since we hadn't been searched on the way in, we thought maybe on the way out they would search us), but we had no problems except the stupid Bangkok airport tax (which is nothing but a way to take money from passers-by. It's interesting, though that there is no way to change your money to pay the damned tax except for a bill changer which only takes two or three currencies. Overall it felt pretty darned third world.
Overall, there were all the weird things you expect from a country you don't know very well, like the Happy Condom on our door to the fruit trees you can't identify, to the leaping Geckos on your ceiling, to the world's oldest train crossing sign. But the country was amazing, and more than worth the price of admission!
All the pictures!
Back to May!