floating market and the trip to ayuthaya

i got checked out of the ever so useful rambuttri hotel, stored my bag for the day and waited outside for the lift tto the market to arrive. and i waited. and i waited some more. ‘thai time’ i reminded myself, could have stayed in bed a little longer. oh well. it finally showed up after picking up the other trip-makers; three german girls and a couple, rupert and verity.

the drive took us about 1.5 hours outside the city to a coconut farm of all places (and i thought i’d booked to go to the market…and early to see it at it’s best :s) it seemed as thought the tour guide, a very small thai woman who kept falling asleep in the bus, was more excited about the coconuts that any of us were ever going to be. not a great deal of time spend there thankfully. the 6 of us exchanged wottied looks thinking that we were now facing another hour or so back to the market. not so. 15 mins later we were parked by a bright yellow speedboat…thai style. think ‘man with the golden gun’. got it? this thing was fast. the speed made even more apparent by the fact that we were hurtling now narrow canals with 90 degree bends, bends that the driver seemed not to slow down for; he just dipped the boat to one side and gunned it in the direction he needed. awesome!

in no time at all we were at the market. i’ve experienced chaos before but not like this! people, boats, fruit, hats, color every direction you looked! the food was wonderful, rupert, hong-kong born, had been brought up on this food all his life and was invaluable as a guide to what to eat next. stuffed, overwhelmed and a little tired by this point we headed back to the minibus to continue eating the fruit and make our way back to the city. got some amazing photos, every direction i looked there was something worth snapping! great morning.

upon returning i collected my new shirts from voglee, bought a new wheeled bag to store the purchases thus far and swapped some clothing from my backpack and left it in storage. the tuk-tuk driver from the previous day’s trip to the temples was waiting for me as arranged and we headed off to the station. or so i thought until he pulled over to the side of the road, told me he was taking me to the tat (thai authorised tours office) to get my train ticket there. tuk-tuk- drivers get paid by certain shops or services to take tourists there on the way to their intended destintions…this place was his sponsor and he’d triedthe same trick the day before. i knew i couldn’t buy a ticket there without getting ccomodation or a sightseeing tour aswell. i objected; he told me to get out, no pay (too f*cking right!) and then drove off! here’s me, middle of nowhere, bags heavy and a train to catch! cue taxi driver 😀 150b, straight to the station and onto the train. 15b for a ticket north lasting about 2 hours..get that british rail!

ayuthaya is a pretty little place, surrounded by a moat made up of 3 conjoining rivers, the center of town is walkable from one side to the other in about an hour. i was saying in a beautiful 19th century traditional sytle place right on the river. traditional meaning no glass in the windows, a foot wide gap between the top of the wall and the ceiling and gaps inbetween the floorboards. don;t get me wrong, it looked incredible! my enjoyment wore off when i went to bed and the lack of enclosure meant that the deafening traffic noise kept me awake all night. no lie…i was starting to go crazy at 5 in the morning with dogs barking, taxis and tuk-tuks rocketing by and huge lorries going past every few minutes. do NOT stay at the bann khunpra guesthouse unless you’re deaf!

first thing in the morning, check out of there, wandered up the street to what lonely plantet calls ‘the backpacker ghetto’ and into a superb restaurant/guesthouse, tony’s place. get chatting to a canadian couple, have some food, book a river tour and my bus ride to chiang mai. i felt more relaxed instantly, felt even better after a beer 🙂

the river trip was great, got to take in 2 temples, some beautiful buddha images and the most impressiver ruin to date. a huge site with red brick structures. to see it just as the sun was getting low could not have been more perfect, check the photos!

got to meeting some really great people on the trip; enricq and karen from austria, kate from switzerland and karen (#2) from cornwall. we spend the evening swapping travelling stories and tips, we’re all going in a similar direction at different times and had some great food and a few drinks (ta to enricq for the pear schnapps, feelin’ it today buddy ;))

i’m doing nothing today. sitting on my ass reading a book waiting for the overnight train to chaing mai leaving at 20:30 can’t wait to see that place, everyone i’ve talked to who’s been raves about it.

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