9/11 – Day 144 of Year 29; Wat Ratchaburana
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Slept hard. No bug problems to speak of. Fan room was actually quite nice temp wise. Sometimes the AC around Thailand can get pretty damn cold.
Showered, Packed, and made it downstairs for eggs and toast and coffee for breakfast (included with room).
Talked with the staff about all the best places to visit. They offer bike rentals, but I didn’t want to worry about having a bike.
Walked from hotel to Wat Ratchaburana where I was accosted by a TukTuk driving trying to take me on a tour. He was a little seedy, so I politely declined slash walked away while he was still talking because they don’t take no for an answer.
After I got my ticket (20 Baht) I met a nice guy who spoke good english. He told me about all the best temples and showed me by pointing at some post cards. Turned out he was also a TukTuk driver looking to take me on a tour. I said I would think about it and if he was still there when I got back we’d talk more.
Inside was pretty fucking epic. Super old ruins. Not an active temple. No railing. No guards. You could go anywhere and just be, and look around. I loved how they would put the Buddha pieces back together since they’d been destroyed.
Climbed to the top and found a staircase that led down inside…. CREEPY dark cave deep inside the temple. Don’t go in if you are claustrophobic ! It was very interesting though. There were frescos on the walls in the TINY room at the base of the STEEP stairs.
As I left I met up with the TukTuk guy again, and we agreed on a tour and route. We were off. I paid 300 Baht an hour, which is higher than average, but I read some good advice somewhere in my travel research: Bargaining is about paying the right price for you, not the cheapest, or "local" price.
First up was Wat Kudidao which was free, and super cool. Parts were flooded, and there was elephant poo everywhere because part of one of the elephant ride tours goes though this temple.
Then my driver convinced me to see the elephants. I wasn’t super keen on it, but he said it was close and just walk in a take a photo and leave, you don’t have to pay, or ride. So I agreed. It was both awesome and depressing. Saw elephants, and a tiger. But they didn’t have the best conditions so I was very uncomfortable. Snapped a photo and left.
Next to Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon. A big temple with a huge reclining Buddha. An active working temple – so there were a TON more people. I wasn’t as trilled by the temple, the highlight was a group of Thai students learning English.
They had an interview sheet, and as part of some assignment had to introduce themselves to foreigners and conduct a conversation in English. It was hilarious to see some of their instructs and questions were written with horrid grammar.
It was super fun, and they were all nice. Afterwards they asked for a photo with me, and then gave me a souvenir (little elephant and tuktuk magnet) as a thank you.
Next was Wat Phanan Choeng with a 19m giant Gold Buddha. Then to Wat na Phra Men which has the only original Buddha statue that wasn’t destroyed. Then Wat Phu Khao Thong which is a HUGE while monolith, and lastly my TukTuk driver dropped me at Wat Lokayasutharam which is a large reclining Buddha in ruin.
I overpaid for some nice little trinkets from a very sweet crazy Thai lady selling them from her pockets.
Afterwards I was to walk to the final Wats… but I was a little disoriented.
I cut though a Wat (name unknown) to get over to a main road. It had rained and rained the last few days, so there was lots of mud. Thankfully my day was pretty rain free.
I had to meander to avoid the mud, and there were lots of packs of dogs. Not nice dogs. Abused, neglected, street dogs. I’m pretty confident around dogs, so they didn’t frighten me. I had noticed someone was also cutting though the same area as me – it was pretty abandoned otherwise. After I passed a nasty looking dog pack I heard barking from behind me.
The dogs were zeroing in and surrounding the guy that was behind me. He was freaking out, and going deeper into a wet area. I whipped my bandana at them and yelled "No!" (which I later realized they would have no idea what that meant) and scared them off. But not before one of the dogs made a lunge at the guy and he slipped, fell ass first, and skidded across the mud. Splat.
I helped him up, and helped to clean some of the mud off. His name was Ko, a Japanese student on vacation alone, backpacking across Thailand for 2 weeks.
We became buddies. He had walked the entire island (it’s not really an island, they just call it that) and needed to get back to the train station. He only had one other pair of clothes, poor guy.
I was trying to help him find a TukTuk, but none in sight. Asked a guy and he pointed us towards a market. Ko and I had Pad Thai and talked over lunch. I asked a British girl where we were — she wasn’t sure. lol. More Thai girls practicing their English, another interview, photo, and souvenir. This time Ko got to participate, even if his English wasn’t that good – I thought it was, but he was self conscious.
I found a TukTuk and Ko and I shared it. I got dropped off at another Wat, and he went on to the Train station.
Wandered Wat Maha That, took more photos, and then started walking toward the train station. Got turned around and had to ask some Thais from direction. Yay for sign language 😉
Bought a coke. Wandered streets. Scared half to death by a Creepy Teddy Bear alone in a Phone Booth. Tuk Tuk drove by – hopped in! He said a Bus was better… and why not.
Got to the Bus Station… I hadn’t completely zipped up my backpack when I swung it over my shoulder as I climbed out of a Tuk Tuk. Out flew my DSLR camera and landed (50mm f/1.8) lens down in the street. Thankfully the camera body seems to be in working order – just need to find some way to tape the memory card door closed. A spring broke and it won’t stay connected. Apparently the door needs to be closed in order for the camera to be turned on.
After my camera went flying and some kind people helped me to pick up the pieces, all I could do was smile and shrug. There isn’t anything to be done. Live and learn and be happy. Thankfully I have my kit lens for my DSLR and my point and shoot (which I prefer anyway because it’s smaller). All is well.(the final photo)
The bus was 60 Baht… and an adventure. The driver was CRAZY! Fucking mad-man. Weaving and speeding and cutting off and driving on the median and the shoulder and crossing though the wrong way on connectors. At one point he got pulled over. Slipped the cop some cash, and then speed off again weaving and speeding and cutting off. Crazy.
Made it to Victory Monument BTS station (Bus station in Bangkok) and got on the BTS Skytrain… going the wrong direction. Transferred to MRT and took Subway to Silom. I could have gone back to hotel, but thought that if I did, I wouldn’t leave again tonight. Got a 2 hours massage, and then dinner, and a slice of cheesecake.
Took motorbike back to hotel and crashed.