Published: May 22nd 2011May 22nd 2011
Alright, so I said I'd keep an up-to-date blog, but that has proven difficult amid all the fun-filled times. Luckily, I have been keeping some point-form notes along the way to try to keep order of all Kiah and I have been doing. Right now, I am sitting in Sukhothai at Vatoon Guesthouse which is located on the road infront of the entrance to Sukhothai Historical Park. I am listening to Quincy Jones' album "the Dude" for the first time, and it is excellent mood music for starting the blog. Anyway, lets start from the start, shall we?
Day 1: Mon, May 17
After an excruciatingly long flight (something like 25 hours?) Kiah and I arrived in Bangkok around midnight. After going through immigration, we awaited our luggage. Kiah's showed up, mine didn't. The first thing that hits you walking out of the airport is the intense humidity. We went and talked to the Thai Luggage place in the airport, and they assured it would arrive to our guesthouse by the next day at 4PM. Shake it off.
We caught a cab from the taxi stand at the airport and go into town to our guesthouse, Khaosan Baan Thai. Nice place, unfortunately we only booked it for our first night and it was booked full for the following. After settling in, we walked to Khaosan Road, the backpacker hub of Bangkok, for a bite. We got some decent pad thai off a street vendor, but since it was 2 am by the time we got there nearly everything was closed and the street was a dirty site with mainly just locals and straggler foreigners hanging about. We returned to our GH for a short sleep.
Day 2: Tues, May 18
We awoke at 6:30am, had breakfast, then walked towards Khaosan attempting to find a bus stop. Thats when our lucky day began! A friendly Thai on the street informed us that it was a Buddhist holiday, and although some temples were closed to foreigners at certain times of the day, we could take a Tuk Tuk (a three-wheeled motorcycle taxi named for the sound they make) around to all the sites for only 20 baht for the day (something like 65 cents Canadian). For this particular week, the government provided cheap prices for taxis, sites, and particular goods (such as jewellery and suits) to tourists as an incentive since it is the low season for tourism and also to boost the economy. Right on!
So we cruised around Bangkok in a rollercoaster like Tuk Tuk (going with and against traffic, spinning last minute U-turns, and weaving in and out of lanes around the standard size automobiles and motorcycles) and saw the giant standing Buddha, the lucky Buddha, and Wat Po, which encase the HUGE reclining Buddha. Sometime during all the site seeing, we went to Unseen Travel, a agency registered to TAT (Tourist Authority of Thailand) and arranged our accommodations, activities, and transport for a way cheaper price than we had planned for. They lay it all out for you step by step so we just kind of go with the flow with everything preplanned, but with some flexibility, as you will discover later on. Unfortunately, when we went to the Grand Palace, it was closed to foreigners and by the time we went back in the afternoon it was closed at 3:30pm.
We went to a tailor and I got fitted for a kashmir blazer and Egyptian cotton shirt, and although I didn't know at the time I could've bartered for lower, I still got it for a really good price in relation to the hundreds of dollars it would have cost in Canada. We also went to a jeweler with loads of gold and silver jewellery fitted with every kind of stone you could imagine. Kiah was drooling over some of it, but despite the week-long taxfree tourist discount, it was a little out of our price range. WE also climbed Wat Saket, the Golden Mount that overlooks Bangkok, during a ceremony time when loads of Thais were climbing the 400 steps to ring the bells and makes offerings to Buddha.
That evening, after we transferred to our second guesthouse (BB Bandori or something, I'll post the correct name later) we strolled to Khaosan Rd for some more food and some foot massages, something like $1.50 CDN each! I had my first taste of Mango sticky rice with coconut milk, which was as delicious as I imagined it would be. We returned to the guesthouse rather early and prepared for our early morning departure.
Day 3: Wed, May 19
We woke up at 6am, which seems to be our natural wake up time in this kind of heat and sun, and were picked up in an A/C minibus to begin our tour of Kanchanaburi province. On our bus, we met a few people, most notably Nick, Laurie, and Shillo from England. We went to the floating market, which was really just a touristy fake of a real floating market, and went on a boat and cruised along besides stalls where the sellers would hook you in with sticks and ask if you wanted to buy anything if you just glanced on it. Ah well, I got my pic taken with a snake and had a coconut with a straw.
After floating market, we went to a wood carving center where people...carved wood...obviously. They made some spectacular things with just a chisel and hammer, however. Then we drove some more in the van (we'd been driving a total of about 2-3 hours by now) to have lunch, which was quite satisfying, before we went to Kwai River bridge and saw a WWII museum and a train bridge built by the Japanese when they were taking over Asia in alliance with Germany. The bridge was built by war prisoners who worked 18 hours a day, before the Americans came a bombed the bridge and all those who were building it. They hoped to be saved, but their blood turned the river crimson. A tragic story, but rather a boring museum.
After another half hour of driving we arrived at the TIGER TEMPLE! Theres a bit of controversy about the place, but we got our pics taken with the sleepy tigers and boy are they MASSIVE. When I was getting a picture with two one rolled onto my arm, but I kept my cool. They also had baby tigers, huge asian Sun bears (like....really huge) and tons of boars, deer, and water buffalo that roamed loose.
Following the Tiger Temple we went to a pretty waterfall (which apparently had a cool cave but we were too lazy to climb the stairs and explore) then arrived at our accomodations for the next two nights at Kitti Raft (our whole Kanchanaburi tour was Kitti Raft). We ate at the floating restaurant on the river and met Emily from Toronto and her aunt from Hong Kong, then took a long boat to our accommodations down the river, which were also floating. Sweet setup.
That night we played drinking games with our new friends and eventually the Brits broke the one rule of the place: No Swimming After Dark. The current was quite strong, but luckily, we pulled their drunk asses out of the river before they got stuck under a parked boat. Twice. Ohn, the bartender, came down and yelled "Do you want to die!?" before going back to sleep. Twas the best night for partying so far.
Day 4: Thurs, May 20
We woke up at what time? 6 am ofcourse! All of us were a little haggard from drinking games. Luckily I had run out of whisky before the others ran out of beer. We went to Erawan National Park to see the seven-step waterfalls, and swimming in the pools was the ultimate hangover cure for the Brits. There were hundreds of fish in each pool that nibbled away at your dead skin cells, and it sure it tickle. Following our waterfall hiking, we had lunch, after which the Brits left us to head back to Bangkok.
That afternoon Kiah, Emily, her aunt Paulene, and I opted out of going to Hellfire Pass (another museum) to go check out a cave instead. Unfortunately, the cave was closed due to slippery conditions, and even worse, a 12yrold local boy died by slipping and falling.
That night I made myself a whisky bucket and drank with Ohn, the bartender (he drank nearly a 6 of brandy and loosened up quite a bit) and Emily from Tdot (Kiah went to bed earlier), and we shared some funny conversation. We also met Bronya and Chris from England and Christina from Spain.
Day 5: Fri, May 21
We woke up at 8! Sleep in! We went elephant riding in the morning, remarkably smart creatures, the returned to lunch before returning to Bangkok (a 3 hour drive in a minibus). We were dropped off at TAT to receive the rest of our little tour envelopes and got some noodles in a bag before taking the train up to Ayutthaya, an ancient capital of Siam that was sacked a few hundred years ago by the Burmese. WE arrived at Ayutthaya arouned 8pm then went to our accommodation, Mondorak Thai, and met Samsee, our old toothless hostess.
Day 6: Sat, May 22
We woke up at 6, had eggs and toast for breakfast with these delicious coconut jelly shots Samsee presented us, then rented some bikes to bike around Ayutthaya. We saw a few temples, then got lost but somehow ended back at Mondorak. Samsee called us a tuk tuk and we toured around to for Wats (temples) before we had to call it a day due to the extra 30+ degree Celsius heat. We got some delicious food from One Love Cafe before returning to our GH. Kiah read and napped and I got a traditional Thai massage from Samsee. For an old lady, she sure made me hurt. After a brief nap we joined them for drinks at 6 and met John, an English teacher from Philly whos been living in Thailand for 14 years. Our Hostesses and John brought us to a nice music bar called Street Lamp on Farang Road where we had some good food and drinks with fellow travellers Rob, John, and Tom from UK and Annelot and Carmen from Holland. After playing a couple songs on guitar (I forgot the words but pulled it off) Kiah experienced heat stroke for the first time so we went back early with the Hollish(?). The others, including 60-70somethingyearold Samsee, partied til 2am.
Thats all I can type now, time for bed! I will try to keep this updated more often so I don't have to go on...and on...and on...like this each post.