The journey would start at 6:45am a pick up at my quaint guest house in a car to be transported to a location to wait while others gathered, we were colour coded with stickers, yellow, blue, red and told to wait. Once everyone was ticked off their lists, we all piled in an air conditioned van and we would head off in the direction of Ayutthaya for the next few days of this excursion. We would stop in another location and everyone would pile out of the vans and I would be ushered, alone, to my hotel, the others would start their tours. I would arrive at Baan Eve Guest house and immediately greeted by an older gentleman who spoke decent English, he would sit down beside me with a tourist map and start explaining what there was to see in Ayuttaya and offered his services to be my private tour guide for 200 baht an hour. I would get settled in my room, average at best, a small room with an ensuite bathroom, it would do for a couple of nights. I went along with my new tour guide and we would visit an ancient temple Wat Maha That, ruins. I would wander around the grounds quickly and be ready to go but my driver no where to be seen. I would wait. We would head off on another excursion to the elephants, he drove to the place where people board and ride elephants, he would stop, I would get out and be disgusted with what I saw and get back in the car almost immediately and ask him if there was an elephant sanctuary where I could just watch the elephants, I don’t agree with riding them and it hurts me to see them treated this way. We would drive to the place that houses the riding elephants, each one with chains wrapped around their ankles allowing them no freedom, enough space to step back and forth, standing in filth, all chained together in small areas to posts, it made me sad. I would notice a mama and her baby off to the side in an enclosure without chains, the baby still fuzzy headed nursing on his mama every few minutes trying desperately to get his trunk out of the way to wrap his mouth around her large nipple. It was adorable. I blocked out what I could see all around me and focused on this gorgeous twosome. The baby would be curious and come over to me and sniff me with the tip of his trunk, I would touch his scaly skin and relish in the moment. The mama was gentle and tame allowing me to pet her trunk although always keeping a close eye on me in protection of her young son.
We would venture next to the floating market, I would board a boat with 10 Chinese tourists snapping pictures wildly at everything and speaking to one another loudly, constantly. The short boat ride would take less then 10 minutes and we were back at the dock to walk around the market on foot. My driver, Nikki, would meet me and we would walk around the market together. I was ready to go back to the guesthouse, exhausted from being a tourist.
I would settle in and return to the common area to write and work. Nikki would come and sit with me for over an hour conversing about various topics then he would make me a delicious yellow & red prawn curry dish that was absolutely amazing. Full and satisfied I sat working away only to have another older gentleman from Northern Ireland come and sit with me telling stories of his past and his present. Now living at the guesthouse with his much younger Thai wife. He would tell me about a furry friend that had come to visit his room in the last couple of days, of course I had to ask what the furry friends was, only to hear those dreaded words once again, a RAT! It would pour with rain while he talked to me about his days on the police force and corruption around the world. I would retreat back to my room with the worries and visions of the rat, check all through the room and tentatively slid into bed and switched off the light.
The second morning I knew I just had to walk, my favourite way of exploring is to walk and get to know the area for which I am staying, I headed out early and walked until I couldn’t walk anymore, it didn’t matter where I was going, I just needed to walk. I would stumble upon yet another temple of ruins. Each temple has stations where you can donate to the monks, purchase flowers, candles, incense, and buy small pieces of white paper to rub on the many buddha statues with flaked gold hanging on them; I would find such a place and simply sit and watch the rituals take place, each person paying their respect to buddha, bowing three times, insert the burning incense into sand, setting their lit candle in the holder and placing their flower into the platter then they would sit and pray. I would witness three monks come to pay their respects while I sat and observed many people repeat this ritual. After everyone had gone, the ladies sitting at the ticket booths would take all of the flowers and put them back in the bucket of water for repurchase, they would return the candles to be used again and dispose of the incense sticks. They would charge 20 baht per person for the reused flowers & candles.
As I walked I was diligent in ensuring that I would remember the way back, when I am on my own I am on high alert of my surroundings and make note of landmarks to steer me in the right direction. As I ventured on my way back I came upon a section of the road that I did not remember and my intuitive warning system alerted me that something was off, not right. I thought to myself I must have been lost in though and continued on my way for a few more seconds, something snapped in my mind and I remembered I should have taken a left at the round about but instead I went straight, I was off track and my warning system alerted me! I would walk for two hours in the hot sun melting but enjoying the exercise the workings of my mind that play out when I am in motion, ideas, so many ideas.
I would take one more adventure, tour before my departure, a river boat cruise around the moat that surrounds Ayutthaya with the promise of a beautiful sunset. We would stop at three more Temples along the way, ruins of what used to be. Each temple was starting resemble the next, I had seen enough. The river boat ride was uneventful except for the HUGE lizard I saw on the bank just ducking into the water.
The older gentleman from Northern Ireland would come to sit with me at a table outside in the common area again for the second night in a row, my computer open and clearly enthralled in what I was doing, he would sit across from me at first and started in on his stories of being a police constable in Northern Ireland, story after story. He clearly had some medical conditions as he spoke his face contorted and strained, he would sweat profusely and barely take a breath in between going on to the next story. He would always come back to the same thing, corruption and the backward way the Thai people did things, he continued to tell me all the things that were wrong with the political system and why everything was going to shit! If you know me, you know that politics and negativity are two of my least favourite topics, I would sit and listen as long as I could then pack up my stuff and retreat to my room. The second night after listening to too many stories I started packing up my things and this time he got the message and excused himself and turned in for the night but not before he asks me if I would like to have a big, wet sloppy kiss filled with garlic, I declined but thanked him for the offer.
It would be a restless night, happy to have had to endure the conditions of the guest house for only two nights, the bed was hard as a rock, the blanket stained and not comforting in any way, a bathroom with a shower that sprayed all over the bathroom and seeped under the door to spread across the rooms marble like flooring each time I showered, an air conditioner set right in front of the bed so the cool air blew on me all night long, it became a series of shutting it off and turning it back on all through the night, I would wake hot and sweating, the room would reek of urine all I could think of was rat urine and I would turn it back on and go back to sleep until I was freezing cold again, turn it off, sweat, turn it on, all night long. The room was not clean to my standards, wifi did not work in the room so any work I did was in the common area with music blaring on the speakers, although nice mellow music. I would endure and write my piece for the night and feel gratitude as I closed the door to my room as I prepared to climb into bed and turn off the light once again.
I would wake to have my new friend, the retired cop from Northern Ireland meet me and enjoy breakfast together, him talking the entire time even while he had mouthfuls of food, never stopped. Nikki would drop me at the bus station hand me my ticket, bid me farewell, get into his car and drive away.