Trip Start Apr 01, 2010
13Trip End Apr 26, 2010
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Where I stayed
Anyways all packed and ready to go. The hotel staff write down the name of the train station in Thai for us to give to the taxi driver and many "khawp khun khrap's" (thank you's) later we are off to catch a taxi to the train station.
We find a taxi easily and after some prompting by Charmaine he agrees to turn the meter on. He then proceeds to drive through the main protest area of the Red Shirts and we see up close the elaborate staging area that has been keeping us awake of nights and waking us up of the mornings.
We were told by our hotel staff to allow for peak hour traffic and that we should look at leaving the hotel at around 7ish for our 8.30am train departure. We left the hotel at 7.00am and arrive at the train station at 7.10am and now have a long wait for our train. But it's all good because at least we know we're there and where we need to catch the train from and so we buy a coffee and some waffles and find ourselves a seat (i.e. a piece of concrete) on the platform to wait for the train.
A train pulls in at around 8.00am at our platform and we're not quite sure if it's ours. Their public announcements in Thai are not helpful but we manage to work out that it's not ours and so we wait it out for the next one. It' starting to get warm already and we are looking forward to our airconditioned carriage.
We take our assigned seats and wait for the attendant to check our tickets just to make sure we are on the right train, but no-one checks and we pull away from the platform. Hoping that we are on the right train, we leave Bangkok and the amount of rubbish dumped on the side of the tracks is amazing. We figure the Clean Up Australia campaign in Oz should come to Bangkok to do some work...
As we head out of Bangkok, it quickly goes to a rural backdrop and we start to see the first of many rice paddy fields that we will see during the course of the day.
We arrived at Lop Buri at 10.30am sharp and disembark. Lop Buri is renowned for its monkeys and there is a large monkey statute on the train platform to prove it. We were originally going to stay the night at Lop Buri but changed our plans and only have a few hours before leaving again at 1.00pm so we store our bags at the station and make our away into where our Lonely Planet guide tells us we will see monkeys.
We go to the Wat where we think the monkeys all hang out and as we near it we have to cross a train crossing. Charmaine looks and assures me we can cross the crossing despite the flashing lights telling us the contrary and narrowly (and I mean narrowly) misses getting knocked out by a fast descending crossing beam.
The Wat we visit has a guy cutting up fresh fruit for the monkeys but there are no monkeys to be seen. There are empty bottles of Yakult lying around everywhere and all this half eaten fruit and vegies strewn across the grounds. So we move on to another Wat which is ruins and there they all are. There are hundreds of them hanging out in the shade. We have to pay 50 baht ($1.50) to enter and a little extra for some bird seed to feed them.
We wander around and Charmaine starts to feed the monkeys and then one of the jumps at her and she drops the bag and he’s off opens the bag in 2 seconds and he’s stoked..
We wander back to the other Wat where there is some shade and then all of a sudden the monkeys must have had the same idea as they follow us and set up shop there.
We move on to the train station to collect our bags and get changed as by this stage we are drenched with sweat. Charmaine goes to the toilet for free, I have to pay 3 baht (discrimination!!) The train arrives and as quick as we put our bags on our shoulder and the train stops, it is moving again. Charmaine has to board as its moving so it was a bit of a tight call.
We get fed on the train and sit back for the supposed 3 hour journey to Phitsanulok. 3 hours turns into 4 ½ hours (Thai time) and at around the 3 hour mark Charmaine asks the attendant how many stops before Phitsanulok and we get told another hour. Another hour rolls by and we get told it’s another 25 minutes.
We eventually arrive at just after 5.00pm and get accosted as we leave the train station by about 5 taxi drivers. I should say at this point that the taxis in this part of Thailand are not your traditional taxis. They are utes / pick-ups with open air cabs on the back with seats. The driver is trying to get a group of us all wanting to go to Sukhothai (some hour to hour-and-a-half) for 200 baht per person
On our bus trip up again we see many rice paddy fields and fires. It looks like they burn off the fields once they have harvested it so the air is a little smoky.
On arrival in Sukhothai we have another 15 km’s or so to get to Old Sukhothai where we are staying. There was a German couple and their daughter also staying in Old Sukhothai so we share a taxi with them to the old city. He charges us 70 baht per person which was probably a bit steep but it was dark and late and at least the guy knew where our accommodation was. Now this guy did not muck around. He was fanging it while texting on his mobile and us hanging on in the back for dear life but we make in next to no time and are greeted by about 5 different staff members at the Tharaburi Resort with drinks and smiles all round. The interesting smell we experienced in Bangkok is gone and it is replaced with the faint smell of smoke but it is a pleasant change
Despite our protests, this 70 year old staff member takes it upon herself to carry one of our packs to our room and the pack is nearly as tall as her which was a funny sight. Our room is amazing. Very luxurious for $120 per night. A little expensive by Thai standards, but definitely worth it. We shower and freshen up and then go to the restaurant for some dinner. I have a whole red fish and Charmaine tries a red curry and we wash it down with a few drinks (yes that’s right a few Singha’s).
We venture to the pool and have a refreshing dip before retiring to our room for a spa and a good night’s sleep after a long day’s travel.