I'm on my last week of volunteering/staying in Bangkok, and preparing to strike out on my own come Saturday. I can't believe how fast the last 3 weeks have flown by!
I've been much busier since the two other volunteers arrived, which has been nice. We have gone out exploring on a few nights, and spent our long weekend (last Friday was a holiday here...what the occason was is still a mystery) about an hours drive outside Bangkok (read: 2 hours for the whole trip, because it takes an hour to get anywhere in the city) at the historic UNESCO World Heritage sites of Ayutthaya. This was a good warm-up to starting the backpacking portion of my trip :)
|Checking out some ruins at sunset on my first night in Ayutthaya|
I stayed in the cheapest room I could find, which was about 200 Thai Baht ($7.45 CAD). It was a private room, with a shared bathroom. Creaky floorboards, opaque plastic windows, and a small fan sitting on a plastic chair serving as the A/C lent it a rustic charm. The bed was big, fairly comfortable, and clean, so I was satisfied. The bathroom was sketchy as heck, and I spent very limited time there! haha!
I ate the street food served piping hot from the little pushcarts on the corner- delicious! - and drank SO much water, iced drinks, and coke...anything cold. It was ridiculously hot outside. As soon as I took a drink out of the cooler, it began to sweat almost as much as I was, and in a matter of minutes it's lukewarm, and then just plain warm and gross. So I guzzle while its chilly.
And heaven knows I needed hydration. Most people rent bikes or hire tuk tuks to get around Ayutthaya, but one of our party was nervous about riding a bike and tuk tuks get expensive fast, so we decided to walk! And since I was detirmined to get to a certain temple at the far reaches of the town, I continued walking long after the other girls turned back. It was an adventure, as my free tourist map was fairly useless, and I had to stop to ask for directions several times. But it was good. And a nice Thai lady on a motorbike saw me tootling along sweating up a storm, and stopped to offer me a free ride to the temple! I took her up on it, and got my first motorbike ride- what a thrill! I loved it! Once I'm out of Bangkok I think this will become a more regular occurance :)
I visited 3 temples in total, and they were all very beautiful. Wat Phra Mahathat was of special interest to me because it is the location of the intriguing Buddha head that is tangled up in tree roots. Its an image I've seen a few times, and its always appealed to me, so I wanted to see it for myself.
I guess I had never seen a picture with it next to a real person, to get the scale of it. For some reason I imagined it was this massive boulder of a sculture, locked in roots the thickness of a giant's arm. I was slightly taken aback to discover that in fact, the Buddha head is about the same size as mine, if not smaller, and could easily be missed if not for the crowd of tourists snapping selfies with it.
I was a little disappointed, but then realized how ridiculous my expectations were, and snapped my photo. I like it.
Next we visited Wat Pha Si Sanphet, which was cool, but very crowded with tourists, and also caters to the Elephant-riding crowd, which made me sad and a little peeved. I get that its cool and exciting to ride an elephant, but that doesn't make it ok. Especially when you can clearly see that they are being mistreated, ie: scars and marks on their bodies from the hooks the handlers use to control them.
|Despite sunscreen usage, I burnt to a crisp.|
Thanks to frequent application of Burt's Bees After Sun lotion, it turned to a tan. Hooray!
I finished the day with a quick trip to the local floating market, which I'm sure lacked authenticity, but was fun nonetheless. Again, not what I expected, but it was interesting to look around.
On Sunday, back in Bangkok, I visited the Jim Thompson House (pretty, if not really as interesting as I'd hoped), and took a Thai cooking class! We learned about some of the key ingredients while shopping at a local market, prepared each dish separately, cooked, and ate! It was fantastic and we had a lovely chef to guide us. I walked out with a small recipe book I am very excited to use!
Now, I am back to work at the Fatima Center for the rest of the week, and then I carry on to Siem Reap, Cambodia on Saturday! Wish me luck at the hectic Poiphet border crossing!
As always, more photos & anecdotes can be found on my instagram, jllkc79, or #jillgoesbackpacking.