Posted by: The Travelling Mallorys | October 22, 2010

Phitsanulok, Sukkhothai (almost), Ayutthaya and Bangkok

Hellokarp.

What are you doing?

I’m doing as the locals do and saying karp at the end of sentences to be politekarp.

Please don’t.

OKkarp.

With very heavy hearts we left hot and sunny Chiang Mai and got on the train to Phitsanulok. That’s a seven-hour trip to a place that’s close to Sukkothai, the old city with lots of old buildings and relics.

Like the fools that we are, we took the advice in the Lonely Planet and stayed in Phitsanulok because “there’s more going on”.

We arrived in amazing rain – the first we’d seen in ages. It was a great oportunity for me to get my cagoule out, but I dropped a boob by wearing flip flops.

Erin cagouled up

Erin cagouled up

We’d e-mailed a couple of places…

Ahem!

Sorry, Erin had e-mailed a couple of places but we hadn’t heard back from them so we didn’t have a reservation anywhere, just a good idea where the good places were. We…I mean Erin had found a place bang opposite the station that was only £4 a night. I took the rain as a sign we should try it out so we swam across the road and into the building.

Fortunately it’s totally normal over here to have a look at the room before you agree to stay and hand over any cash, so the receptionist lady asked a man with few teeth and a strange limp to walk us down the dark corridor to our room.

Now, I haven’t been in that many crack dens, but this is what I imagine one to look like. Dark, dingy, smelly, peeling paint etc.

Definitely buglife and probably bed bugs too and it was really damp. We made a hasty exit and got a tuk tuk out the front to take us to our first choice – a place called Lithai Guesthouse.

Although it was easily walking distance from the station, we were glad to get the tuk tuk becuase a) it was raining and b) it’s down a little side street that we wouldn’t have seen easily. So we checked in and as soon as the rain stopped I went off in search of the “more going on” that the Lonely Planet had promised us.

What did you find?

Not a lot at all, though I did find a little lady who thought it was a hoot to sell me 4 beers. I asked for Chang Beer, but in Thai it’s Beer Chang. Not that funny you would think, but she laughed for such a long time saying “Beer Chang. Chang Beer. HAHAHAHA” I honestly thought she was going to lose control of her bladder function. But she didn’t and I went back to the wife and we had some beer.

Then we wandered around some more and there was clearly nothing in the whole town apart from a market so we ended up in the eaterie attached to the hostel where I had  noodles which were alright, but not exactly delicious.

and I had fish and chips which was lush, but not exactly a full-sized portion. If this had turned up as a kids meal in Beefeater I’d have called it stingy, so to give me it as a main course was a bit of a lark really. Tasted gooooooood though.

[Edit – I forgot to mention the noisy birds. Check out this video:

]

The next day we woke up ready to head off to Sukkothai, and it was raining.

and I was pretty hungover to be honest.

Indeed you were.

Last night's wreckage

Last night's wreckage

We had breakfast in our hostel, and although nowhere looks good in the rain we started to realise what a depressing place we were in. Really grey and miserable and it didn’t inspire us to explore much.

Especially as it was raining and we were going to be on muddy ground. But anyway, we hadn’t given up yet, so we went to the tourist information place and got some tourist information and then we gave up! It was the mixture of rain, hangover and local crapness that did it.

So we went for a coffee and found a really nice place with cool chairs

and a sliding door I pushed and pulled until it nearly came off in my hands. Whoops.

and had a coffee and some toast. The toast came with chocolate sauce which was a welcome surprise.

Anyway, we didn’t waste the day. Pumped up by the chocotoast we went to this really cool place called the Sergeant Major Thawee Folk Museum. It was a bit like Worthing Museum, so obviously really good (if you haven’t been to Worthing Museum, I truly recommend it).

Save it for Worthing versus the World husband! Anyway, yes that was nice and then we went and changed our train tickets so we could get out of Phitsanulok as soon as possible the next morning! then the rain came again, so we hid in a coffee shop eating weird omlettes until it got light enough for us to dash home.

The next day we got the train again, this time to Ayutthaya which is meant to be a bit like Sukkothai. It rained the whole way there, and the train leaked so I got wet. Luckily there was a mop lady on the train and the guard had some blankets he let us use as towels to stop us getting too soaked. It was all good fun really.

Yes, you love that sort of thing. Weirdo. In Ayutthaya it was still raining, so out came the cagoule and we hopped in a tuk tuk and headed to what turned out to be one of the best places we have stayed – Prom Tong Mansion.

Yeah it was lush and had awesome breakfasts. The first day we let the rain come down and…erm…drank some beer. It sounds like we have been doing that a lot lately eh?

The next day was lovely and sunny so we had a big explore all over the town. We saw temples, old palaces and a mob of protesting red shirts which was rather exciting.

Red shirts

Red shirts

Buddha's face in a tree at Wat Maha That

Buddha's face in a tree at Wat Maha That

In the evening we took a boat trip to some more cool temples, but the water level was really high – not a problem for us in the boat, but a definite issue for the locals. Check out this riverside house.

https://i2.wp.com/farm5.static.flickr.com/4026/5088952555_8efc6dcb08_d.jpg

House flooded

We were sad to leave the next day, but that’s the life of a Travelling Mallory! We went to the station to get our train to Bangkok but it was delayed by 10 minutes, then by 30 minutes, then an hour and eventually it showed up 90 minutes late.

That sounds bad, but we were lucky to get a train at all. The whole area north of where we were was flooded and trains were all cancelled the previous day, with none running north at all now. We met loads of people at the station who were hurriedly changing all their travel plans and freaking out, which made an hour and half waiting for a train not to bad on reflection.

I got way too excited about being on the train.

Yes, yes you did.

It was a third class wooden seat rickety old thing with massive windows that were open onto the world. Much more fun that the sealed tubes I travel to work in every day back home.

Gavin on the train

Gavin on the train

We eventually found two seats together and made it back to Bangkok. The next day we were off again, this time to Kanchanaburi where the Bridge over the River Kwai is. The bridge was built as part of the Burma – Siam railway by the Japanese in WWII using POWs, and then when the Allies bombed it it was a key moment in the war.

We got to walk across the bridge and went to some museums and the cemetery. It was all very interesting, and amazingly sad to learn about its construction.

Over 100,000 people, POW’s and Asian labourers, died completing it. The conditions were horrendous, with little food, water and then having to work for hours and hours in the beating sun of the Thai jungle. However, Kanchanaburi offers a fitting memorial to those who died and we would really recommend a visit.

We stayed at a really nice place called Apple’s Retreat as well and wished we could have stayed longer.

The next day we went back to the station and guess what – train delayed! Still, at least it was running and we managed to make it back to Bangkok before our hostel locked the doors rendering us homeless!

So now we’re having an admin day before flying to Kuala Lumpur tomorrow to meet up with the in-laws for the Murrin Tour of Malaysia and Singapore. Can’t waitkarp!

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Responses

  1. this is a brilliant update – you do make us laugh. top marks for mrs m and the kindly shared cagoule photo, mr m looks like he’s not eating enough, we are Concerned. take carekarp! xxx


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