Took another bus to Kanchanabury, in total I've been on the road for 29 hours. In Canada the furthest I've been to is Quebec which is 9 hours away, and even then I thought it was a world away. I wonder where I can get to in Canada in 29 hours? In Kanchanabury I went to a very nice guest house, cheap, in a great location, with a very big and beautiful green flowery garden full of hammocks and lazy chairs overlooking a river. The staff wasn't friendly though and the restaurant staff didn't speak a word of English. Usually in these countries the menu is both in English and local language, so you point to want you want in English, and they read it in their language, but that means that there are no questions and no adjustments to be made. Why would they hire non English speaking staff in the most popular guesthouse which serves 100s of guests? While reading on the hammock I asked a girl if she's been to a national park, she said that she hasn't but asked another girl who asked another guy who she met on the bus, and so the 4 of us spent the next 4 days together. We went to a cool night market where we bought green, purple staffed gooey/slimy thingies, then rice with pork, shrimp, veggies for $.50, fruits, juices, indescribable desserts, all very yummy. I was worried that $2 wouldn't be enough, but I still had money left over and my stomach was exploding :)
The next day we rented bicycles and rode around the country side stopping at a war cemetery where instead of mourning the victims, we run under the water sprinklers to cool down, and then visited a cave. I love riding in countryside, it's beautiful, peaceful, & filled with friendly locals, thought not always very friendly dogs :)
In the evening we went to a small, family run restaurant which has the best and cheapest food. I understood that in Thailand "very little spicy, very very little, my spicy, not your kind of spicy" is about medium/hot in Canada, and "not spicy at all", is about as spicy as I would like it to be :)
In the morning we went to a national park. The bus would stop anywhere on the road to pick you up, and would drop you off right in front of the headoffice/tourist info/restaurant area. We wanted to camp, so we filled a form with which tent we want, do we want pillow, mattress, blanket, lantern, sleeping bag, mat, etc ... all priced very reasonably, for ex, pillow $.60. tent between $3-$7. The tents are set on a green spacious lawn on the river with a very nice gazebo. Everything is so easy!
I think the national park was created to protect a waterfall which runs through it. It's a long waterfall, between the 1st and 7th level it's 1.5kms meanwhile it falls and falls. There is some mineral in the water which makes it very blue and covers the rocks in some yellowish plaque which is non slippery and is perfect for climbing :) All would be great if it wasn't for the 1000s of Russians who came here for the day trip. One guy had a label on him that said "Group 255"! As always they're yelling and very condescending towards each other. If my bf would've talked to me the way they did to each other, at the first try he wouldn't be my bf. Shouldn't relationships exist for love and support and not for yelling and putting each other down?
Woke up sick :( One of the reasons why we stayed overnight in the park is to be able to enjoy the waterfall in the morning before the arrival of the tour groups. It was hard enough for me to get to the restaurant and I just slept while waiting for their return. I ordered mixed veggies with extra garlic, had my natural medicine, did reiki a few times and the next morning woke up practically healthy :) I still could sneeze 10 times a minute, and go through the whole pack of cleanexes in a day, but energy was up and nothing hurt.
In the morning I took a bus back to Bangkok, but it was half an hour late, and took an hour longer, and I was late to pick up mom in the airport who came to visit me in Thailand for 3 weeks. I love Bangkok, there isn't much to do in terms of grand sight seeing, but it's a very live and bustling city that you have to feel more than see it, unfortunately mom didn't feel anything, didn't appreciate the local culture, cuisine, colorful markets ... too bad :( I planned to spend 3 days in Bangkok, but I think even 1 would be too much, so I need to alter the plans. 1st evening we walked around the malls, and next day we saw major sights, which again were the Royal Palace and the big Buddha. It was Sunday and there were way too many people and practically impossible to take any pictures. We then took a boat trip through canals where the locals live. Most of the houses are in bad condition rotting from the water and humidity, and some of them are so tilted that I was scared for its residences' safety.
When we got out of the boat to go to the palace I asked one local in which direction is it, he pointed me in the direction but said that it only opens at 12pm (it was only 8:30 at that time), I gave him a look so he'll understand what I'm thinking of him and walked off. I hate lairs, hate them, hate them, hate them! Thank god for Lonely Planet that lists prices, directions and times, otherwise I don't know how many times I would've fallen for these scams. That scam in particular would go something like that:
"oh, it opens at 12? what are we gonna do for these 3 hours?"
"no problem miss, you can take a tuk-tuk from me for cheap cheap! I'll show you around"
which would involve the famous gem scam of Bangkok, in which you go to a store, and they tell you very low prices for the gems and would persuade you to buy a lot of them and to sell them to their partner in your city of origin and make A LOT of money! They would show you pictures of happy clients, addresses in your country/city, prices for which these gems go for, and at the end you would end up with very shiny, worthless glass thingies, with non existent clients in Canada, and this store would close its location and would move to the next one in less than a week.
The rule of thumb is while travelling if you don't have lonely planet or other source of useful info is to not to trust anyone who tells you that it's closed, it moved, it's full, or someone who is dressed nice and speaks very good English! Always check for yourself!
It was too hot and we decided to spend the afternoon in our air con-ed room. We took 4 taxies in one day and it's always a problem to find someone who will turn the meter on, but some drivers answer in a manner as in "of course I'll put the meter on, is there any other way??!!". We went to a very famous Pad Thai place which supposed to have the best Pad Thai in all of Bangkok. LP says "The Pad Thai you have on Khao San road is not the real thing". I don't know. This place serves only Pad Thai, it's full to it's capacity, but I didn't notice any difference. The thing that was very good in there is the freshly squeezed orange juice in a bottle, on it there is a label "consume within 24 hours". Best orange juice ever, what Tropicana advertises 100% orange juice, I don't know where they found oranges like that to make such a shitty juice.
Too many places to see in such a short period of time, and I'm sleep deprived again. Mom doesn't like Bangkok, and so we went for a day trip to Pattaya. At the bus station there was a real estate office, mom was curious so we went in. The apartments are tiny, some start at 240 sqft. This one building which we saw won the best development in Thailand award, but I didn't like it much. The building felt soul-less, and had some unfinished touches. I wouldn't want to live there. It's for rent, not for living, but the agent said that there isn't much appreciation happening, so what's the point?
We went to the best and cleanest beach in Pattaya, it had so many Russian tourists, the beach wasn't clean, and the water didn't look inviting. We wanted to go to a nearby island, but we arrived a bit late. Pattaya is known for the Russians and for the sex tourism, I wonder how many percent both of these are combined? I wonder what all the tourists doing there? If I had a week vacation, I would not choose Pattaya, even though most restaurants and store owners know more Russian than English. We ate Russian food, cutlets with mashed potatoes and cold soup for lunch and dumplings with sour cream and borsh with rye bread for dinner. It's pretty good, but still not the same as in Russia, or even Toronto :)
Damn taxis want to charge too much (I guess used to the Russian money), and we walked 3 kms to the center. There are so many restaurants, souvenir shops, bars, everything is either Russian or Indian or red. We wanted to go to a transvestite show - very popular in Pattaya, and went to talk to the agent. While talking to her a group approached, so rude it's incredible, and the agent didn't seem too eager to sell anyway. Her answers were "I don't know, everyone has their own taste, I like it, you might not like it, how can I tell you?"
We bought tickets to the Alcazar show - very famous transvestite show in Thailand. Thank god the show only lasted 1 hour because I was so bored, I even started to look through pictures on my camera. Everything was same same same same. There was a song playing, someone was lip-singing it and the rest were "dancing". You cannot really call it dancing, just some unimaginative moves. They were all out of sync, they couldn't move, I guess the only criteria to be on stage is to be a transvestite. The costumes and decorations were amazing though, but that's about it. They finished with a cheerful and energetic Russian song, and everyone left happy. Some "girls" are so pretty, with a very good boob job, but still if you look close enough you could see that they're men. Especially how they're acting. They're over exaggerating women's moves, no woman in her right mind would walk or talk or dress like that.
In the morning the taxi driver took us in the circle till the train station. We went hell knows where to get on a highway (extra charge), only to finish where we started. I told him that he's taking us around in circles, he said no madam, I'm a taxi driver 10 years, I know the way. - Yeah, you know the longest way to take tourists on! When I gave him the money, I told him to be ashamed of himself. I hope he understood it!
Went to Ayuthaya again, had to show mom the ancient city. We have big cities, party cities, old cities, mountains and beaches on the itinerary, and 3 weeks to see it all. We rented a scooter and scootered around the town. First temple we went to, I didn't go to the first time around cause back then I rented a bicycle and it was too far to bike to, but for scooter it was a short ride away. The only temple that I didn't see last time was also my favourite with many sitting Buddhas around the perimeter :) Then we went to 2 more temples which I already seen and then we found somehow a big reclining Buddha. Like in Bangkok but from sand stone. The city is big, there is a highway running through it, there is a lot of traffic, I don't like driving like that and mom feels nervous. We didn't do much this day, but we're super tired. It's good that we left early for the train station, cause on foot it's a 5 minute walk, and a ferry across the river, but on the scooter it's a long way around across the bridge. I drove on the road next to the river, but the bridge started way before the river, to get on it I had to drive in the opposite direction, do a U-turn, cross the bridge, and do a U turn again, because the road to the station was under the bridge. As they say, so close, yet so far away, we run into the station 10 minutes before the departure.
The train was super cool. It had wide seats facing each other that at night convert into beds. The assistance assemble it, put mattresses, sheets, pillows, blankets, constantly walk back and forth looking if people need help. Everything was good, except that I kept waking up every hour for no reason at all.