Thursday, 18 December 2008

Cycling around Sukhothai

Sukhothai is the ancient capital of Thailand, dating back almost 700 years. The site contains over 70 ruins and its an enjoyable day cycling between them. It was a surprisingly gruelling workout, thanks to our bikes with no gears and poor brakes. The bikes were probably as old as the ruins themselves.

SukhothaiPond at Sukhothai

Modern temple at SukhothaiMore Sukhothai ruins

Buddha at Sukhothai

Back at the night market in Phitsanulok, we came across this man making some coffee in a rather unusual way. He reminded us of Tom Cruise in the film 'Cocktail'. There were also grown men drinking half pints of milk and eating toast. Weird.

And if anyone was wondering what had happened to those tins of Carnation evaporated milk that may have been in your Gran's cupboard, well they're alive and well here in Thailand. It's everywhere. We've become addicted to the stuff in our iced coffees. It does have a habit of sticking to your ribs on the way down though. It's coffee and dessert in every mouthful!

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Night Festival in Phitsanulok

After a five hour train journey with arctic air conditioning, what could be more refreshing than a night festival. The beers were the cheapest we found since leaving the UK. The bottles even came with straws!

Singha time with straws

The selection of food was very diverse, from chicken and seafood to fried worms, maggots and crickets. We had a great time sampling lots of things but weren't brave enough to eat the insects.


Out of the frying pan Fried insects

The riverside was beautifully lit with all kinds of things - lotus flowers, Hello Kitties, stars, polar bears, penguins, dinosaurs, elephants and lions to name but a few.

Riverside illuminations 1Riverside illuminations 2

Riverside illuminations 3

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Iced coffee in a bag

A day organising ourselves for the next leg. We walked to the train station to get our tickets to Phitsanulok. On the way there, we found this cool shop, which is no doubt the place to get all your home altar supplies. There were also lots of colourful taxis on the way. Plain black just doesn't work here.

Home altarsI can sing a rainbow taxi

After buying our tickets - we were surprised that there were no touts to steer us away from the station - we had a street food lunch, accompanied by Mirinda drinks. 'Red or green?' we were asked. They're great for children, and we're assured 100% natural. Feeling still thirsty, iced coffee in a bag followed - made with condensed milk and sugar syrup. Very tasty and healthy. We know it looks like a bag of tadpoles, but it really is coffee with ice.

Natural drinks Coffee in a bag

On the way back we caught the SkyTrain. Jen spent the afternoon getting a haircut, pedicure and foot massage (getting her toes wrenched from their sockets). Another day living the high life.

BTS Skytrain

Monday, 15 December 2008

Monumental fatigue in Bangkok

We arrived in Bangkok a couple of days ago. We're staying in a funky hostel (Lub d) in Silom, a nice part of town. Yesterday we tried to catch up with some sleep and plan the next stage of our trip. We've decided to head north towards Chiang Mai with the intention of crossing the border to Laos, then Vietnam and Cambodia. In January, we'll head back to Thailand to visit the beaches in the south of the country.

Today we did a bit of sightseeing in Bangkok. We caught the river taxi to Wat Pho, Thailand's oldest Buddhist temple. It's home to the country's largest reclining image of Buddha (46m long). The rest of the temple complex was very impressive too.

Next stop was the Grand Palace complex which was a visual onslaught of gold covered statues and buildings. Never did the phrase 'too much to do, too little time' fit a place so aptly – too many monuments, short opening hours. Andy felt that some pruning of the monuments was needed. Putting in some nice green lawns would have broken up the buildings and made it easier to enjoy them.

For a bit of relaxation at the end of the day, we went for a sunset stroll in Lumpini Park. Lots of runners were doing laps around the outside of the park. However, at 6pm the national anthem began playing. All of the runners suddenly stopped and stood rigidly to attention whilst it was playing. Once the music had stopped, the running continued. (Thais absolutely revere their King and there are pictures of him everywhere). The park also had about 1,000 men and women doing outdoor aerobics, all moving in time together to some catchy Thai pop music.

Around the corner from the hostel, we've found some great street food. Very fresh, and seasoned with chillies, lemon grass, lime and coriander.

We've noticed one thing so far. A disproportionate number of very young, beautiful Thai women have a real thing for overweight, middle-aged and unattractive Westerners. We wonder what they find so attractive about them...