It was time to make a move. If we didn’t, I fear we would have stayed in our garden until dad had to leave. That wouldn’t have been an entirely bad thing, very relaxing, but perhaps a tad wasteful of dad’s time. I was still stuck on finding that tuk-tuk driver, so we took a bus to New Sukhothai and searched around. I eventually realized how unrealistic I was being, trying to find a single driver in a town of hundreds, but wasn’t quite ready to give up. We had lunch in a roadside restaurant, close to where we’d seen him the first time, and kept our eyes open, with no luck. Defeated, we took a ride with the first and only female tuk-tuk I’ve seen and headed for the bus station. An hour later we were in Phitsanulok, a one night stop on our way to Chiang Mai.
We found an acceptable hotel without too much troubles, and got settled in. Upon closer inspection, each of our rooms contained at least 2 belly up cockroaches, which took away from the places charm, but otherwise it was clean and quiet. There was a couple of things I wanted to see while in town, and we spent the afternoon walking a large loop and being good little tourists. Our first stop was at a famous pagoda. It’s a very sacred temple and contains Thailands second most revered image of Buddha. It’s not well signed in English though, so we wondered around aimlessly and then tried our luck with some Buddhist fortune telling. An 8 inch chunk of bamboo containing 30 or so numbered sticks is shaken until one of the sticks falls from the tube. During the process you are supposed to focus on a desire or wish, with your eyes closed. Once the stick has dropped, you go and collect the paper with the corresponding numbers fortune. Mine was much more optimistic than the first one I’d tried months before, which was nice. Dads was harder to decipher, as the English translations are not always perfect. We decided it was telling him to add some oil to one of the offering lamps out front. Try as we might, we could not find any oil, so we lit incense, applied some gold leafing to Buddha, and said a little prayer instead. I hope it helps, as it was a prayer worth saying, even if he didn’t say it to anyone in particular.
Dinner on one of the floating barges along the river was highly recommended by the Lonely Planet, so we decided to try it out, and it got mixed reviews. The atmosphere was pleasant enough, if you didn’t go to the bathroom and see the huge cockroach struggling in vain to escape the sink that he’d slipped into, but the food was some of the least satisfying we’d had. Thai food is generally outstanding, and we hadn’t been disappointed yet. Dads dish was good, but the shrimp were unusually stubborn to remove from their shells and a bit scarce. We still managed to eat our fill, and figured we could top up at the booming night market if necessary.
Phitsanulok hosts one of the most lively night markets in the area and it’s famous for a vegetable dish that the chef prepares and then flings at the waiting server, before being presented to the waiting customer. It supposed to be quite the event, with waiters even climbing onto the roofs of cars trying to avoid feeding the waiting dogs instead of people. We looked, but didn’t see any flying food, so we went for a foot massage instead. This truly made me nervous. I’d had a treatment in Malaysia with those menacing little wooden sticks, and almost kicked the guy in the face it hurt so much. I’m a firm believer that it doesn’t have to hurt to do any good, but he seemed to think that the more it hurt the better it was. I gave dad the heads up and we sat down. If it was too much, we could tell them to lighten up, or leave. I actually flinched when I seen the instrument of torture, and just about aborted the mission before it began, but instead I gritted my teeth and braced myself in my chair. Almost every station in the place was full, so they had to be doing something right,,, right? Right. It was superb, I only felt uncomfortable once per foot, which is acceptable, and almost fell asleep before she was done. Dad didn’t have the same luck. He said the actual treatment felt good, but by the end of it he was extremely nauseous and uncomfortable. Maybe it was the odd assortment of food and beverages, maybe the unusual smells in the area, maybe just a good reflexology treatment that kicked something into gear. Whatever it was, it was time to go home and get horizontal. I left him alone for a while and then went to check on him. He hadn’t lost his cookies, and said he’d immediately started to feel better once he had laid down. Hopefully he was on the mend, and not about to spend the night sitting on the toilet with his face in the garbage. Which is not unheard of in Southeast Asia, but I’d picked up the miracle cure while in Myanmar, and not had the chance to try it out yet. Maybe tonight was the night!?