As some of you may know, I was in Bangkok to get some more dental work done, check out Steemfest and of course visit my kid. Since I'd be there for 3 weeks, I had also planned to visit Ayutthaya and Sukhothai, at least a day at each place. I really wanted to go as I love historic sites and those two are UNESCO heritage sites. Anyways, I didn't get to go to either and in doing so I learned a lot about Thai people and everyday life in Thailand . . . Here's the story . . .
After doing some research, I found that flights were too expensive for me from Bangkok to either Ayutthaya or Sukhothai (upwards of $2000 Baht) where as bus tickets ranged from $300 to $700 Baht and train service started at $15 Baht up to $600 Baht. From what I could determine travel time was about the same for both train and bus services with Ayutthaya being just over an hour away and Sukhothai being 8 hours from Bangkok and 6 hours from Ayutthaya. The only tricky part is that there are no trains from Bangkok to Sukhothai and that bus fares are cheaper from Bangkok to Sukhothai than from Ayutthaya to Sukhothai (almost 1/2 price) but travel time is probably going to be the deal breaker if you're already in Ayutthaya. Something else to note are that the "buses" from Bangkok to Ayutthaya are more like vans ranging from 7 seaters to 14 seaters as opposed to those long distance buses with toilets on board. Also I read some reviews indicating that there is no room for baggage. Whatever you bring is gonna be on your lap. Not good for me carrying a backpack and a huge waist bag that holds my cameras.
Off I go to the bus station, which has moved from Victory Monument to Mo Chit bus station. To get there by public transport you need to alight at Mo Chit BTS Station and walk a little ways as if you're heading to Chatuchak (HERE'S my post regarding Chatutak if you're interested in doing some shopping while in Bangkok) but you'll need to stop at the pink Chatuchak sign because that's the bus stop, you'll see the sign when you stop and turn around. I can't tell you how much the bus is because I didn't take it. As I was coming down the stairs from the BTS station, I started to feel my lower back start to give way. As I get to the bus stop my back starts spasming so I double back a few steps to get into Chatuckak park because I saw park benches in there. Just as I get to a bench I feel a nerve pinch and I'm on my knees. I shake off my backpack and lie down on the bench. A security guard comes over and says something I couldn't understand. I just point to my back and try to smile. He smiles back and walks off occasionally looking back. After an hour or so I try to walk and succeeded for about 10 meters then my right calf cramps, bad! I haven't felt that kind of cramp since high school track and field. So I sat at the closest bench for another hour or so watching people, trees and clouds. There are some elderly vendors that approach park goes selling something, but none came near me, maybe they thought I was homeless sleeping on the bench. Anyways, I see the same security guard approach these ladies and have a conversation and even went to get his water jug to share some water. Gave me the warm fuzzy feeling. Anyways, here's some pics while I was sitting/lying on the bench:
I eventually made it back to the BTS station and security escorted me to the elevators both at Mo Chit and On Nut station. I thought I was in trouble at first but then realized that the elevators were reserved and doors to the elevator lobby was locked. I've also seen BTS security escort the elderly and handicapped on and off the train and out of the station. I've never seen that anywhere else, what caring treatment. These guys and gals are awesome! Oh instead of taking the bus to Mo Chit Bus Terminal, you could try to walk but most likely you'll have to go around Chatuchak Park instead of through it because the park is fenced in and I don't think there are any gates open on the other side close to the bus station. I saw a lot of foreigners looking for exits and looking relieved when they exited where I was seated on the bench so I'm guessing exits are few and far between. Here's the Google Maps image I was going to use:
A couple days later I tried to take the train to Ayutthaya because those vans just weren't appealing to me especially if my back starts to spasm. To take the train via public transport you'll need to get to Hua Lumphong on the MRT line (blue line) if you're on the light green Sukhumvit Line, you'll change trains at Asok and walk to Sukhumvit MRT station (it's like a 2 minute walk). I didn't even make it 1/2 way to On Nut BTS station before my back and calves started tweaking so I turned around and went home. So I can't really tell you how much the fare from Sukhumvit MRT station to Hua Lumphong but my guess would be between $30 and $40 Baht. I was so depressed because the notion of not being able to go to Ayutthaya and or Sukhothai was slowly becoming a reality, and the time I had left in Bangkok would mean if I went, it'll be a whirlwind type adventure which my body won't be able to handle.
So the next six days I just basically did nothing except walk a block to get lunch/dinner and a massage every other day. Being the creature of habit that I am, I ordered food from the same food stall, ordered the same drink from the drink stall and requested the same masseuse at the massage shop. Thai people are so friendly and welcoming! By the second day one the food stall owner would sit with me and chit chat, the bubble tea shop employees would smile when they see me and ask if I wanted the same and since the food court is right across the street from massage shop, I'd see the massage therapists eating there as well. One night they even invited me to drink with them, which I did and got to meet the owner and wife of the massage shop who subsequently was the landlord of the food court and the proprietor of the beer stall! BONUS! It was amazing to learn about their culture, their everyday lifestyle and experience chilling with all of them. There was always someone to translate the joke that made the group burst out laughing so I never felt left out or out of place. I would have so loved to hang out more with my new friends but all good things must come to an end. Oh, the massage shop closes at 11 pm and the food court at midnight.
When I had 3 days left in Bangkok, I felt good enough to risk a trip via train so I tried to book tickets but just my luck…tickets were all sold out for 2 days straight, and there were multiple trains too! So my advice is to book your tickets in advance even though some sites indicate that it's pretty easy to get tickets at the counter for same day service. Although I didn't get to visit the UNESCO sites I'm not terribly mad/sad/disappointed because I met so many cool people and learned so much. This whole trip turned out to be one big meet awesome people trip and by far one of my fav trips ever! Plus I plan to be back in Bangkok in December so I'll try to get to the UNESCO sites then 8-)
I really think my back and legs giving out was the universe's way of telling me to slow down and enjoy moments in life. "Be" in the moment don't just run around trying to capture the moment.
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