Song of the day: Iggy Pop – The Passenger “I am the passenger, I see it under glass, I ride through the city backsides, I see the stars come out tonight, and all of it is yours and mine, and all of it is yours and mine, so let’s ride and ride and ride and ride…”
Last night was occupied with the both of us tutting at a bloke in a room somewhere near us who kept clearing his throat vey loudly and graphically. I mean, seriously, this must have gone on from about 8 at night until the same time the next morning. A lot of Thai men seem to suffer with dreadful sinuses and it’s not unusual to see and hear them blowing the content of their noses out into the gutter. I think it may have something to do with the dust that’s kicked up off the dry roads as so far it seems to be mainly drivers who we’ve observed suffering from this affliction. As Hollie packed up her stuff I walked to the 7/11 a few streets away to get us water and some kind of breakfast. For the third time in our trip, I bought us some microwavable cheese and ham toasties that the shop will warm for you. They’re a filthy snack but a convenient way to start the day as you don’t need to find your own microwave or toaster to cook them and the shops seem to heat them to solar temperatures, so there’s no chance of starting a long day of travelling with a dodgy stomach.
Before going to Ayutthaya we had chatted with a German lad in Kanchanaburi who had warned us against the dangers of vicious stray dogs, who hunted in packs and harassed tourists for food or sometimes just for the hell of it. We had encountered no such dogs until the morning of our departure when I was on my own, whistling my way back to the hostel in the gentle breeze. A mangey hound was lying prostrate on the pavement and I paid it no mind. As I grew level with it it leapt up off it’s back and started barking at me, whilst two of it’s mates came scuttling from behind a fence to back him up. I thought “They can do what they want, but they shall not take our toasties”. Mentally preparing myself to leg it incase plan A failed, I stood my ground and shouted something along the lines of “Back, you mangey canines!” They immediately stopped snarling and backed off, respecting the natural authority in my voice. At times I can be a soft touch, but woe betide the animal that comes between me and my food.
We were ferried to the bus stop by a gentle Chilean chap from a hostel round the corner with whom we’d arranged the bus tickets. I got chatting to him about how my favourite footballer was Alexis De Sanchez – footy is an international language for blokes. He suggested some really good places for us to stay on the Thai islands and for if we had to return to Bangkok. He dropped us at a main bus station saying “Your bus will arrive at 11:30, maybe later, never earlier.”
The bus arrived about five minutes late, which was really good considering we’d prepared ourselves for a long wait. This 1st class bus is a different kettle of fish to the public buses that ferry you about. There is an attendant who looks more like an air hostess in an orange uniform complete with hat, and the driver has pips on his shoulders and various badges on his shirt that make him look more like a Captain in the Thai navy than a coach driver. As I write this section we’ve been on the road a little over an hour. About half an hour ago we stopped for twenty minutes in a roadside services. This bus has already come all the way from Bangkok and I imagine some of the passengers who’ve been on since then needed a pitstop. Hollie waited on the bus whilst I went for a wander round in search of more sustenance. A rather feminine Thai chap with white foundation on his face grabbed me by the wrist and said “You hungry? I give you free noodle!” “I bet you will camp David.” I thought, and got ready to leg it for the sanctuary of the bus. “No, you no understand me – 1st class bus, free noodle!” And suddenly I understood, and felt bad for harbouring my previous suspicions at his intentions. I called Hollie down from the bus and we troughed some tasty noodle soup, courtesy of the bus company, before hopping back onboard.
We arrived in Sukothai about an hour ago after a six hour bus journey. Because we were already at the bus station we immediately booked a bus to Chiang Mai for Saturday morning, another six hour journey. The sun was already setting by the time we’d planned the next stage of our trip, so by the time we’d taken a songtheauw to the hostel it was dusk. We had just enough time to check in and observe tonight’s accomodation in the failing light – a wooden bungalow all to ourselves for twelve quid a night. It’s a very oriental-looking abode and pretty heavenly after a long journey. I had a Chang on the balcony whilst Hollie had a Hoegarden fruit beer all the way from Belgium! We’re about to head into town for a few more and some snap. Tomorrow we visit another ancient kingdom – I’m beginning to feel like Indiana Jones, but without the hat.
We ate at a restaurant called Chopper cafe tonight, where Hollie somewhat inevitably befriended a cat. It had a collar on, which is the international symbol for “I don’t have rabies”. The food was great, I think it was called “Holy Basil Pork” but it may have been a mis-translation. Photos will follow but the wi-fi signal is too poor to allow that at this stage!
Tom and Hollie