07.05.2007 - 09.05.2007 32 °C
Welcome to my first entry in this blog. I am going to condense the first 25 hrs of travel into a few sentences - it was long and exhausting and we were glad to finally arrive in Bangkok - about 3 hours later than expected. This was because the Melbourne - Bangkok flight had been cancelled so we went Melbourne - Sydney - Bangkok instead. Anyway we arrived safe and sound and checked into Krung Kasem Sri Krung Hotel. It's positive virtues was that it was very close to the train station and had hot water. It's negative virtues were numerous. However, it was adequate for our purposes of stretching out and resting/sleeping for a few hours.
Early (5:30am) Tuesday morning we checked out and headed across the road to the train station and bought our tickets to Ayutthaya. This was on a rapid-express train that didn't seem too rapid. In fact, it was very pedestrian leaving Bangkok but once outside the city it did go faster. We bought some spicy, minced chicken and basil on rice for breakfast. Katherine ate the fried egg and some rice and I ate the rest. We also had a green mango snack. Several people were very kind and informed us that Ayutthaya was the next stop.
The tuk-tuk driver took us to the Baan Lotus guesthouse which is a lovely three story guesthouse with a huge garden. The garden is a bit overgrown but it is very peaceful and lovely to sit on the balcony and watch the squirrels jump through the trees.
Once settled in I hit the wat circuit while Katherine took a rest. I went to several wats by bicycle, all only a few kilometres from the guesthouse at most. Wat Ratchaburana has an impressive prang with very steep steps leading down to faded red, black and gold murals. Wat Mahathat has the most famous sight of a Buddha-head enclosed by the roots of a banyan tree. Most of these wats are several hundred years old but have been destroyed by time and the razing of Ayutthaya by the Burmese.
When I returned we had a brief foray into the main street just to see what there was. We followed that by refreshing watermelon and pineapple fruit shakes. Though Katherine has declared that she will keep away from watermelon after I reminded her that they can carry illnesses.
At 4:30pm we joined 4 Dutch people and 2 other Kiwis in a day-night tour by tuk-tuk. One tuk-tuk for the Dutch and one for the kiwis. We went to several wat again, but these were ones several kilometres from town so it was a great way to see them. The second stop on the tour was the Elephant Kraal to see the baby elephants - one just over a week old. This is the place we are coming to on Thursday. It was very muddy and there were hundreds of elephants (well more than I've ever seen in one place) going about their business, which mainly seemed to be eating. And yes, theh baby elephants were very cute. But also quite strong - look out for your feet.
The tour finished by dropping us at the night market. But it was already packing up so we had some vegetarian pad thai and walked back to the guesthouse. We might go again tonight.
Today (Wednesday) we have been having a quiet day. We started with a visit to eh Chana..[something]..kasem Museum. This consists of three buildings in a compound. They were once used as a royal residence but now they are old and museum pieces themselves. Katherine enjoyed the second building most which housed many different Buddhas. Some stone work was 1500 years old and there was nothing to stop us touching it if we wanted (which would have been naughty so we didn't).
We had a lovely lunch at foodside eatery opposite the guesthouse and now have come back to the main town shops to do some errands. I am now sporting a fancy Thai haircut.
OK, now to answer some of your questions. Katherine is hot and sweaty most of the time but she is not grumpy yet. She may have eaten some meat when the mushroom pastry we ordered tasted like chicken but otherwise has been sticking to her vegetarian diet.
Tomorrow we are off to the Elephant Kraal so might not have access to email there.