|Nov. 18: Bangkok: arrived at 10:30pm, hot & humid, a city that never sleeps, always a place to shop and eat. After our 18hr. flight, we are greatful for Chan Guest House in Banglamphu with its padded plywood-like matress and softened brick-like pillows. We slept like a log under the constant whirrrrr-thud of the antique fan.
Nov. 19: Bangkok's Khoa San Road is "Backpacker Central" and filled with tourists who enjoy the party atmosphere, variety of night and day street vendors and numerous Travel companies that can organize tours and flights wherever you want to go. For 5 years, Pat at Travel Guide has provided us with friendly, reliable and reasonable service. She is a GEM!!!! We have our Bangkok / Vancouver return flight organized for January 15th. It would be easy to spend a few days in Bangkok as there is a lot to see and do but we are anxious to get on the road. Flight organized, Caz has been for a peticure etc. and we have visited our 2 favorite restaurants - time to go.
Nov. 20: Lopburi: 154km from Bangkok and 2 1/4 hours on the Express Train. Many tourists come here to see the wild monkeys that live in a couple of the city Wats and can be seen regularly on building tops, balconies and scampering across electrical wires. As fascinating as they are, we kept our distance as tourists have been bitten and subsequently had to take rabies shots - an experience we can forego. In the mid 17th c., King Narai, built a palace and fortified Lopburi as a second capitl city. The palace has been restored and has a very interesting museum, surrounded by a lovely, neat and clean park.
Nov. 21: Lopburi: we rose early to watch the monkeys scamper thru traffic and electrical wires, from their night abode to either explore the city or move to their day Wat ruins. There seems to be two groups (a couple hundred) of monkeys that head in opposite directions - it is quite a sight! We found a very ordinary and typical Thai restaurant for breakfast. Other than the noodles and a lot of love and care - we are uncertain what went into the soup for the only farangs (whiteys) in the shop. Whatever we had was delicious and energized us to explore the street markets and interesting ruins. The Thai people are very friendly and generous , even tho a huge majority are not well off according to our Western standards. While we were at the Night Markets (looking for another meal, we had a brief chat with a young Thai fellow (the only person we met in Lopburi that spoke English). We ordered our basic noodles and while we were eating he bought and brought us a special Thai Omelett. He thought we would like it and wanted us to try. It was good - interesting - folded inside were vegetable with sweet coconut and it was served with a sweet cucumber sauce...definitly something different.
Nov. 22: Pitsanulok: 250km and 5hrs. on the bus from Lopburi. SHAKE! RATTLE!!! AND ROLL!!!! We splurged on a nice hotel ($10.00 Cdn) hot and cold showers, TV and 1/2 block from the river. There is a 3km (approx.) walkway on the river - one km has night markets and restaurants, about 2km is a nice, neat, clean park-like walkway where you can stroll and check out the houseboats. This is the only place in Thailand they allow house boats on the river...they are all very old and when they finally fall apart they are not allowed to replace them. At the end of the walkway is Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahathat, which contains the very impressive Chinnarat Buddha, one of Thailand most revered and copied images. Impressive but very commercial! It is important to note if you are in the neighbourhood, that in the middle of the walkway, opposite the Post Office you can get a great cup of coffee and use the internet for free.
Nov. 23: Sukhothai: On the bus again, 2hrs and 52km later. This is a wonderful, peaceful old city, great hospitality, and terrific food markets. Our "Thai Guest House" has BASIC amenities, a porch overlooking the street and Mama give a fabulous 1 hour massage for 150 Baht ($4.60Cdn)
Nov. 25 & 26: Sukhothai Historical Park (World Heritage Site): For 2 days we enjoyed exploring the fabulous ruins of the 12th & 13thc. There is a total of 91 ruin sites and 4 large ponds, the ponds and 21 of the sites is set in peaceful and beautiful park with plenty of well groomed grass areas and semi tropical trees and plants. 70 of the ruin sites are in a 5 mile radius outside the park, nestled between farms and semi tropical forests. This is a lovely place to relax for a couple of days. We are suprised at how few tourists seem to be around.