Trip Start Mar 18, 2008
5Trip End Mar 27, 2008
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Flight out from T1 was scheduled for 8am. Under normal circustances, I would have timed myself to arrive at baggage check-in between 7.30-7.45am. (ok .. more like 7.45am). But, given the recent heightened security due to a certain escaped convict, the group decided to play it safe and hence 6am was the time set to meet at the airport baggage check-in counter. That meant Mike had to come by to pick me up from home at 5.30am. Well, given that he had to atone for his failure to keep his promise to pick me up when I came back from HK the last time (ditching me for some chick last minute), I somehow didn't feel that bad. :-) Turned out that our fears were unfounded as check-in went very smoothly. But well, better safe than sorry.
Touched down at Suvarnabhumi Airport at 9am, still sleepy from the early flight out and last minute packing, so not feeling very chummy. This was made worse when we were whisked out into the blazing heat of the airport driveway for our first taste of the weather that was to come. I've never thought I would say this, but I suddenly missed Singapore's weather (especially with La Nina over the last year) !!
Ok ... that was not bad ... for I've said before that I will not go on packaged tours if I could help it. This, in a sense, was a packaged tour, with a focus on photography. But it was a 'tour group' in every sense of the word nonetheless, and the horrors of being in a packaged tour reared its ugly head from the very first moment.
Our local photographer/guide, Boonmee, had arranged for 2 vehicles - a minibus to take all 9 of us from Singapore + baggage, and another car for his entourage. Me, being me, forgot that I was in a tour group and was supposed to act like a spoilt brat. When the helpers started to load up our baggage at the back on the minibus, I started to help out to load the baggage (naturally), while my 8 other fellow tourists loaded (themselves) up the minibus, and left no space for me when I finished helping load up THEIR baggage! *curse & swear* Bloody hell, there was actually space but they some were sitting on 2 seats and refused to move. Sign of things to come. *roll eyes*
I had to load up with Boonmee's entourage in the other car. It wasn't all that bad, as apart from a few bags, I pretty much had the back seat to myself. As we drove out of the airport towards Ayutthaya, I tried to carry out a conversation with guys in the car, only to realise they speak no word of English, and I of course spoke no Thai. So, I switched off, spread myself amply over the back seat, and slept, happily. Then about half an hour into the ride, the car stopped by the side of the road somewhere on the outskirts of Bangkok (I gathered) and Boonmee came over to grab me over to the minibus. My new found friends have decided to take pity on me, half an hour into the journey, and made some space for me to join them ... We made polite jokes and smiled but under my breathe I was definitely swearing ... was I supposed to be Thankful ?! f****** hell. Oh well, its only for 6 days ... *crossed my fingers very tightly*
Don't get me wrong. Most of these fellows are alright, nice chaps, whom I had no issues having a casual chat and a drink with. It's just that we're different. I don't stand there and watch people carry my stuff for me if I can help it ... period. Just feel so uncomfortable when the baggage is in front of you and you'd rather the helper carry it for you, standing there with the expression on your face looking as though it's your god damned right (even though we've paid for it). Just not me and I hope I never become that. This happened throughout the trip and I can't help but feel pissed off by such behaviour.
Ok ... anyway ... drive to Ayutthaya took more than an hour ... we arrived at our hotel and checked-in close to noon, and had a buffet lunch of supposedly Thai food that largely resembled and tasted like simple chinese food (very Singaporean actually), bar the Tong Yam soup. Not too impressed but presumed that hotel catered to tourists taste and preferences. That, though, would be the recurring theme of the trip with these fellows, as bearing in mind I'm travelling with people who will only eat chinese food. :-p While food at lunches and dinners throughout the trip is good and plentiful, they were what I would hardly call Thai food, but more like good 'Zhi Cha' back home. Oh well ... :-)
2pm. Headed off to our first site for photoshoots.
Had chance to take these pictures with the soft lighting offered by the setting sun, and got some decent silhouette shots ... nice, but had to get a really low angle for these shots so my knees really hurt ... By the time we were done and the sun had set, I already finished using both my CF cards (1 gig each). Boy was glad I brought my laptop with me ...
4.30am - Morning call - room phone rang. *curse & swear*
5.00 am - Assemble at lobby to set off for photo shoot. *Eyes barely open*
This would be a recurring theme over the next few days for we wake up very early to shoot (photos) sunrise. It felt like a bootcamp and I'm already starting to wander what I have signed up for ??!!
By the time we got to Ayutthaya Historical Park, where Boonmee and gang set up the strobe lights and us, our tripods and settings, it was almost first light, close to 6am.
Left the hotel again at 5ish in the morning. Same monks from yesterday posed for us in front of Wat Chai Wattaranam but with candles (and srtobe lights, of course). Didn't think the composition for this session was anything great so this was one of the least enjoyable sessions. It was back to hotel for breakfast and check-out after that ... and for the long drive to Sukhothai ...
To be cont'd ...
Where I stayed