Ok… So I’ve missed a few days worth of blogging but I’ll cram four and a half days into one post.
On Tuesday morning we visited the Art in Paradise museum in Chiang Mai, which sounds pretty boring but the art creates optical illusions and gives you (and any budding photographer) the opportunity to become part of the art work. It’s really quite clever and rather different to anything I’ve been to before. As we had time to kill before our flight back to Bangkok in the afternoon it was an entertaining way to end our stay in Chiang Mai.
As we’d already had a busy nine days in Thailand, we decided that Wednesday should be a ‘chill’ day. We ventured up to the infinity pool, sunbathed and read for a few hours in the morning and then it started to drizzle so we re-thought our plans and chose to go to the cinema. BTS took us to Terminal 21 which is, as suggested by the name, an airport themed shopping centre. Every floor (except the 6th floor which is the entertainment centre) is a homage to different cities from all over the globe, plus it is set out like a department store so that each floor houses shops which sell similar items e.g. beauty is all on one floor, womenswear on one, menswear on one, accessories on one, and so on. To add to the airport theme, you walk through a fake security screen to enter the centre and the security/information staff are all wearing airport security attire. After some deliberation we chose to watch the new Ghostbusters film. It was £2 each; surprisingly a bargain as everything is so modern and extravagant in Thai shopping centres.
That’s one thing about Bangkok – it has astounded us with its amalgamation of the old with the new; the crisp and clean with the smelly and dirty; the over-the-top decoration with the run-down, barely standing huts; the pure over-indulgence of some places combined with the desperate lack of sanitation in others. This city is just a mixture of all walks of life, all types of demographic and Bangkok caters for them all in one way or another.
As we were watching the trailers for new and up-coming films, a yellow screen interrupted and we were kindly asked to stand and pay tribute to the King of Thailand. The King’s anthem played whilst a myriad of photographs of the royal family played on the screen. After a couple of minutes the tribute ended and we sat back in our centrally placed spacious, reclining seats. I daren’t say too much about the King of Thailand as I don’t know anything about him at all really, except that he is adored throughout the country and it is a criminal offence to slander him in any way. Huge billboards with a variety of images of him on his own, with the Queen and with the Princess are placed all around. It might just be my observation, but the country is united by the love they have for their King. It’s a shame England isn’t the same about their Queen.
Aside from the unbelievable price, the comfortable seats and the fitting tribute to the King, a cinema experience in Thailand is pretty much the same as in England. We picked a good film too. After the cinema we headed to an Alice in Wonderland themed restaurant called ‘The Hatter’. If you like themed restaurants, Thailand has them all and this one didn’t disappoint; it was like walking into the film set at the mad hatters tea party.
We were sat at the ‘caterpillar’ themed booth, with cushions for chairs and tea trays for tables. The food was very nice but it was expensive (for Thailand) and very rich tasting. Upstairs was a secret shisha bar so after our meal we asked to go upstairs and enjoyed a bubblegum shish in the semi-open courtyard. BTS faithfully took us back to the apartment and that was the day over.
Thursday isn’t worth talking about as throughout the night I spent most of it in the bathroom, wrentching my guts out and after the little sleep I did get I woke up feeling like I’d done a full body work out at the gym. Stomach flu. Thankfully it was only a 24 hour thing but it meant that we lost a day as we both spent it in the apartment. Although I insisted Tom should go out and do something, he stayed and kept me company.
As I woke up feeling pretty well on Friday morning, most likely due to the gallons of water, two sachets of electrolytes and three slices of pizza (an ordeal Tom doesn’t ever want to speak of) which I painfully managed to force down my neck the night before, we decided to go to Ayutthaya to see the Buddha in the tree. The plan was to travel up to Ayutthaya by mini-van, visit the places we wanted to visit, stay the night in Ayutthaya and then travel further north-east to one of Thailand’s most visited nature parks – Khao Yai. After walking around Bangkok for half an hour we eventually found the place where the mini-van departs for Ayutthaya. We arrived in Ayutthaya earlier than we were allowed to check-in at our hostel, so we headed straight to Wat Phra Mahathat by Tuk-Tuk. Wat Phra Mahathat is an ancient temple ruin which houses the Buddha head in the tree – something of a phenomenon to Buddhist’s, and tourists alike. This temple was different to all the others we’ve visited so far; aside from the obvious, that it was a ruin, there was a serene atmosphere and it left a lot more to the imagination. The deep, red-bricked walls were stripped of all their former glory; weeds and grass sprouted from the mortar in between; delapidated Buddha’s with hands, heads, half their bodies missing were faithfully lined up against the walls. I enjoyed this temple more than any of the others.
It’s a shame we didn’t feel the same way about the rest of Ayutthaya. After a few hours wandering around in the scorching heat and being ferried by our Tuk-Tuk driver who insisted we take him up on his three hour tour of Ayutthaya for 300 Baht (£6 and too good to be true) we found our hostel, checked in, paid our 250 Baht and then quickly decided that we were going to head back to Bangkok before visiting Khao Yai national park. Mainly because Tom didn’t pack the right attire, secondly because Ayutthaya wasn’t a place we felt we wanted to stay the night. For fifteen pence we travelled by rickety-train the twenty-five or so miles from Ayutthaya to Bangkok in an hour and a half.
After a very good nights sleep, followed by a long shower in the morning we set off back to the train station near our apartment to travel to Pak Chong. The train arrived late, causing our journey to take us longer than expected – a total of four and a half hours rather than three. But it wasn’t so bad. I read quite a bit. Added some to this blog post. There were some nice views. There were local Thai people wandering up and down the aisle offering drinks and strange snacks such as fried chickens feet, crickets, pineapple, Panang curry with rice and other random snacks but even though I was hungry I daren’t risk it, not after the day I had on Thursday.
Finally, after lots of jerking and stopping along the old track we arrived in Pak Chong searching for our hostel. Unfortunately, we found it. I think that’s all I’m going to say on the matter. Unhesitatingly we rushed out to find somewhere clean to eat and just be, preferably with wifi so I could FaceTime the love of my life (gag) and we came across a pastry and bakery place which looked like the only modern, hygienic building in Pak Chong.
And here I am. I genuinely feel like we might not make it through tonight. American horror story screams at me. I just hope that Khao Yai is worth it.