Feb 6, 9:00pm
My most exciting news from today was that I got hit by a car. So if you only have time to read this one paragraph, you can safely carry on with your day without having to read anything else, knowing that you’re not missing anything important. The problem is that I’m used to looking in a certain direction for cars when I cross the street. Since they drive on the left hand side of the street here, my habit is potentially fatal. Anyway, that’s what happened here. I looked right when I should have looked left, and promptly ran into/got hit by a car, which then nearly ran over my foot. Fortunately, this was at the entrance to a parking lot, and the car was moving slowly, so nothing was damaged except my pride. The rule of thumb is to look in the direction that traffic comes from. Painfully obvious. But there’s a caveat in Thailand. Motorcycles and tuk tuks often drive on the wrong side of the road to save themselves some time. So, the second rule of thumb is to always look both ways.
As promised, I visited temples this afternoon. I went to Wat Rachaburana and the Wat Mahathat on foot. The tuk tuk drivers hassled me and assured me it was too far to walk, but after yesterday’s hike all over town with my suitcase and camera gear, I figured it would be a piece of cake. It took about 30 minutes to walk there, and really wasn’t that bad. The sun was incredibly intense, but I just took an easy pace. I was gambling that the temples would still be there when I got there.
My gamble paid off. The temples were still there when I arrived. After wandering the temple grounds for a couple of hours, I really don’t think I’m cut out for the temple thing. They were beautiful, and certainly impressive, simply because of their age and their history, but I didn’t get much out of the experience. The temples were basically built on top of the crumbled and burned remains of other temples. This was the result of warring tribes fighting for possession of the land hundreds of years ago. However, I do appreciate the irony of peaceful Buddhists burning other people’s shit down.
Tonight I had dinner at a little restaurant on the Pusak River. It was a 20 minute walk from the hotel, but I figured I would walk until I found something interesting, and there it was. It was an open air place, and the fluorescent light fixtures were surrounded by little clouds of bugs. I was entertained watching tiny yellow lizards walking on the ceiling and eating snapping up the bugs. I kind of hoped one of the lizards would drop down to my table and catch the ones that were threatening my food. The lizard show was at least as good as my dinner. I had a pretty ordinary fried noodle dish with vegetables and shrimp, and a glass of freshly squeezed lemon juice. I can’t seem to find the tamarind flavoured pad thai that we enjoy at home so much. Maybe they just invented that for export to the ferang? Who knows…
On the way back, I had to walk through several small packs of wild dogs. Dogs are everywhere in Ayutthaya. They lie on the pavement and sleep during the day. At night, they’re wandering everywhere, having sex in the middle of the road, making more little wild street dogs. People leave out small bowls of leftover food for them to eat. The dogs made me a bit nervous, because they tend to stand up and stare at you when you approach. However, they seem to be pretty tame. If you stare back at them, they will usually just trot out of your way and watch you from a distance.
After dinner I went to check out the little Internet cafÃ© in an alley around the corner. It’s owned by an American guy from Missouri. He’s only been in Thailand for a year, and has set up business there. We talked for a while, and then I asked if I could use one of his computers to install Capture One so I could process some photos. He had no problem with that. Unfortunately, his computers all run Windows ME, and it’s not compatible with my portable hard drive or Capture One. Boo. I wasn’t too disappointed though. I got some great advice from him about traveling within the country. It also felt great to talk to someone who speaks fluent English. As a result of my chat, instead of taking the train, I’ll find a minibus to Bangkok tomorrow.
I’m prepared for more adventure when I get to Bangkok. Turns out Tan doesn’t want to go to Phuket until Tuesday, which leaves me slightly screwed with no hotel. I tried to find one this afternoon, but every hotel I tried was booked up. The Atlanta Hotel advised me to try tomorrow afternoon. I guess this is when all hotels find out who is leaving early, and who has cancelled reservations. This is one of those little gems of knowledge that I think will come in very handy as a negotiation tool.