The evening of Day 3 concluded with the Siam Niramit dinner and show at the National Theater. The show is reportedly a $40 million extravaganza and it shows. The sets were elaborate, the costumes colorful and stunning, and the dance numbers included 2 live elephants, 5 goats, and at least 4 roosters. I am wary of the ways the elephants were treated and it was hard to enjoy those parts, but the rest of the show was very enjoyable. At one point a river showed up downstage, deep enough for a guy to jump in and swim, and it flowed, and there were water cannons in it, and it rained into it at one point as well. The story was many vignettes of Thailand’s culture and history and was very easy to follow even without speaking more Thai than hello and thank you.
We awoke early today to begin our travels northward. Tonight, we will stay in Phitsanulok but on the way we will have visited many stops, I will try to update this blog as we go.
First stop was Ayutthaya. The former capitol city of Thailand, now in ruins after the it fell to the Burmese army in 1767. It is hard to believe what it looked like in it’s prime, but the grounds were vast and the structures that stood, were a sight to see. The many Buddah statues I the city remain headless as the Burmese cut their heads off in a show of disrespect to the local people and religion.
As we were leaving the ruins, we walked through the flea market where Boeing (our guide) gave us a taste of the Thai version of cotton candy. It is a stringy, not as sweet, straw textured candy wrapped in a green rice pancake made by hand right in front of our eyes. We also tasted some coconut cakes, lotus seeds, and some water chestnuts. One variety which we have in the states, and one (shaped like a water buffalo) which we do not. They were all delicious though I’m a little nervous about how my body will react! So far so good on the food poisoning… but I am trying to be extra careful.
A little further up the road we stopped at the Monkey City, Lop Buri, where we went to the temple ruins now crawling with generations of macaque monkeys. We were warned not to stand too long in one place or they might untie your shoes, or try to take your jewelry. Alex and I walked through the temple grounds and one monkey, probably mistaking Alex for a tree, jumped on his leg and quickly off again. We continued to walk, I took a seat on one of the stoops in a not so crowded area and tried to lure monkeys nearby. Alas, none were having it. They noticed I didn’t have food. A couple very young ones came close, but they quickly noticed their mothers had moved on and hurriedly chased after.
After the Monkey Temple we stopped briefly at a tourist buffet for sub-par foods and a quick beer. Then we were on our way to Phitsanulok where we overnighted. There was a brief stop at another wat with a revered golden buddah near the hotel. At this temple Boeing showed us a practice where you shake a bamboo cup with sticks. Each stick has a number on it, and the one that falls to the ground is the number of your fortune, which can be found in a cubby by the entrance to the temple. I got #4, and I had Boeing read my fortune. He said “This means that you will be very lucky at night, if I am expecting it is to be a boy, and the wish that I make will come true when I give birth to a boy”. This is the second time that I’ve had a baby boy predicted to me (the first being in the medicine man’s teepee in Browning)! As I left the temple I see two high school aged girls talking to Alex who had already left the temple as it was very warm and stuffy. They were practicing their English with him and were very happy to have the time. We thanked them for chatting and went on our way quickly to check in at the hotel, and get some air-conditioning.
The hotels have been nice. Alex and I, having told SmarTours of our honeymoon and my previous use of SmarTours, were upgraded to VIP travelers meaning that if there were upgrades available we would get them. So far both hotels have put us in suites. It’s a welcome surprise to make the weeks a little more special.
As there wasn’t much to do in Phitsanulok, we briefly walked the attached mall to see many western style and sized clothing, I tried on a bra that was a size bigger than I would normally wear in the states and it was still too small! Haha. We also saw, on the sporting goods floor, groups of kids practicing martial arts, in-line skating, and playing ping pong. When our journey to the mall was complete we returned to the hotel to enjoy a couple cold beverages and turn in early.