Sunday, January 11, 2009

Trains, buses, tuk-tuks and motorbikes with cages on front.

After sleeping well my second night, I woke up feeling much better. And just in time for another day of travel. The 3rd class train from Ayuthaya to Phitsanokop took 7 hours. It stopped in every town and was an hour late. The first hour was fun, the next 6 were rough on the sitting bones. I eventually made conversation with the guy next to me. He was on his way home from work in Bangkok. We spoke a lot with our hands. We passed many rice fields and he explained that it takes 3 months to grow rice and that they can replant the land three times a year. My new friend Wasan, disembarked the train about half way and I was left to twiddle my thumbs since I can’t read on moving vehicles for fear of getting sick.

I finally arrived in Phitsanokop after dark and caught a tuk-tuk to the bus station. Tuk-tuks are three-wheeled “cars” with bench seating behind the cab. He took me right to the Sukhothai bus just in time to take the one-hour trip west. My butt was relieved to find a cushioned seat, but I was just about done with transportation. I did get to meet Christabell from Singapore though. We compared travel notes, said we might meet again and then headed to our different hostels in Sukhothai. Not before discovering a new mode of transportation however. The tuk-tuk from the bus station was a motorbike with a cage-like passenger area on front. That’s the best way I can describe it. You literally sit in front of the driver. The ride was also freezing. I guess the weather at night is unusually cold right now and it was quite cold in the wind. Transportation is odd here. The one hour air-conditioned greyhound style bus cost 30 Baht ($1) and the 10 min tuk-tuk ride in the cold cost 50. I arrived to my very nice French owned hotel around 8pm starving. My two options were to eat at the nice looking restaurant full of farangs (foreigners) or wander down to the night market and take my chances. I decided on the later. Most of the street carts had unappetizing balls of meet, whole chickens or dried fish. On the main drag I found a sidewalk “restaurant” consisting of a kart kitchen, little tables and a TV playing a Thai soap opera. The menu was in both Thai and English and the tables were packed so I gave it a shot. I ordered fried glass noodles with vegetables, egg and shrimp. It was delicious! I was so hungry and it totally hit the spot. It was great to sit on the sidewalk, watch the people go by, listen to the TV and the Thai families. On my way back I bought some cut papaya at a fruit stand for dessert. It was the perfect ending to a long day and I fell asleep to the sound of crickets, frogs, birds and dogs.

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