We headed south to a workaday Thai town called Phitsanulok by express coach. I unfortunately left our detailed guidebook on the bus so we didn't even have a map of town. We found a reasonable guest house however (having rejected the first). I went out for a walk on my own and was immediately struck by the town. There is virtually no provision for western tourists here. I could find hardly a word written in non-Thai script. The streets are fascinating and the market is magnificent and I've not seen such a selection of food stalls since Bangkok. The heat in Phitsanulok is especially stifling - there is something about the humidity that means that you get sticky and uncomfortable after just a few minutes outside. The eveings brought little relief and the number of insects swirling around the lights in the street was phenomenal. Also many birds come in to town to roost and put up an incredible racket. We struggled to find somewhere to eat but eventually found a restaurant down on the river near the night market where we could comprehend the menu sufficiently to get fed. We have only fan and no air-con so the overnight heat made sleep difficult.
Phitsanulok - we walked along the river in extreme heat to the local famous temple called Wat Yai which houses a much esteemed Buddha image which is regarded as one of the most beautiful. The temple was packed with Thai tourists on this Saturday morning who were paying their respects and earning merit at the image. The temple grounds are lined with lottery ticket sellers - presumably it is regarded as an auspicious place to purchase a ticket. We joined an amusing little town tour by tram (with Thai commentary). Bizarrely afterwards we ended up at the local department store whose basement houses a small Tesco/Lotus foodstore. We stocked up for a little picnic. The air conditioning in the store was an amazing relief after the intensity of the sun outside. We headed for a well known restaurant in the evening called the flying vegetable because of the way they toss the vegetables in preparation of one local dish. The riverside was lined with restaurants - nearly all with TV's showing the Villa v Chelsea football match to avid viewers.