Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tourista!

I met an English man yesterday while waiting for a bus that never came. As we watched every bus in Bangkok, except for the 25, roll by, we talked. One of the things that stands out from the conversation is this: he said he'd much rather see a waterfall than look at a temple. I nodded and smiled. But really, my first reaction was: who gives a sh*t about the waterfall? He also assured me he was in Thailand for detox on Ko Samui, and that he wasn't into prostitutes. Fair enough. 

As far as traveler types go, I'm more of the urban adventure sort, less the nature lover (other types might include: rabid partier, annoying package tourist, luxury resort lover) . I also hate crowds and always dread seeing top sights, even if they are, of course, amazing. If it wasn't for C, I wouldn't have gone to the Taj Mahal. I would much rather explore neighbourhoods on foot, stare at people (subtly, from behind sunglasses), take photographs, walk until I'm exhausted, get lost, and find good coffee shops. 

This trip, though, has been about stepping outside of my comfort zone (traveling alone in itself kind of qualifies), so I decided that I would sign up for - egad - activities. 

Last Sunday I went to Ang Thong Marine Park. While there, I snorkeled, swam, climbed many steps to see a blue lagoon, kayaked, and scrambled up an actual mountain type peak.

Fish. That's where I snorkeled. 

Fellow snorkelers.



Walking up to see the blue lagoon.


Said lagoon.

Last stop. 




Monkeys at the bottom of the "mountain"
View of beach, 150 metres up. 
I made it! 500 metres. Also, I'm not not wearing pants. Bikini bottoms are on!






Going back down was harder than coming up because of my FEAR OF HEIGHTS.

The monkey laughs at me.

These two were slower than me!

The monkeys laugh at them.
I made it back to the bottom, back to Koh Phangan, and then I took off the next day for Bangkok. Flights around here are kind of pricey - 170 one way. So I decided to take the train for a fraction of the cost! 24 hours later after a taxi truck, ferry boat, tightly packed bus (5 seats to a row instead of 4! Also, my window didn't open. And, one more thing, they said it was an hour. It was 2!), and a five hour delayed train (I finally changed my ticket when the clerk admitted, three hours later, he didn't know when the train would actually make it. The train I took was air conditioned. Water dripped on my head all night and a cockroach climbed up my leg. Okay, I'm done complaining), I made it to Bangkok. 



Nature scene at Surrathani's train station.

The king.

If it ever came!
I spent the first afternoon wandering. I walked around my neighborhood, found Khao San Road, where a lot of tourists stay, and planned out my next day's itinerary. 
around the hood. 

Little market. 

Early morning fish. 



The next day I decided to do a walking tour of the old city. I probably shouldn't have walked the three or four kilometres to the start of the walking tour, but so it goes. 

Grand Palace! This is actually a wat (temple).







The pink shirt of shame. Visitors have to cover shoulders at the Grand Palace. I thought  I could get away with a well-placed shawl. No such luck. 


Continuing my walking tour after the palace.  



Amulets!

Panda card in book store!

Memorial. 

Big swing. 

Bike lane! Kind of. 



Only one of these is real. 

This man gave me some oreos. They later saved my life.


At Wat Pho. My camera battery is dying!




So, these photos represent about 4 hours of steady walking in 40 degree heat. At my last stop, Wat Pho, I got pretty sick (bad lunch?) and had to sit down for about half an hour. Drank a couple litres of water, ate my oreos, and took a tuk tuk home (I had planned to walk back!). Moral of the story: Bangkok is bloody hot. I thought I was fully acclimatized to the heat, but, um, no. 

My second day in Bangkok, I headed to Chinatown. The day after, I went to Ayutthaya. Yesterday, I went shopping! Today I'm in Petchaburi. I had planned to go north to Chiang Mai, but I think it's even hotter there than in Bangkok. My plan is to stay here for two nights and then head down to a seaside town. I need a breeze!

So, lots of activities! I will continue my tourist chronicles soon. But now I have to hop on a mountain bike and go see some bears. 




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