Boy, it’s the end of day three and I’m just now getting around to reporting on Day 2, plus the Day 2 dinner (what a hoot!).
Yesterday was temple (wat) day, and I was joined by five women (actually six at one point) – Nan, her mother, her daughter, her sister Mae, and Mae’s daughter. We all met up mid-morning, but I get ahead of myself.
On this trip, I have no idea what my itinerary is from hour to hour, much less for the day. It’s all been mapped out and I usually find out when it happens. So after that no-sleep-overnight-most-of-the -ay train trip, I wasn’t inclined to get up too early. But Nan gets up early.
At least she let me sleep to 9:30. I dressed for what I expected would be a day of temple touring. She had at least told me that much on the trip. But she knows I need coffee in the morning and the hotel room does not have any, so she said we would stop on the way to wherever we were going for coffee for me.
Well, the stop was almost for me. I did get my coffee. But the stop was a reminder to me that this trip was about her coming home to see her family and friends. I’m just a passenger. She had actually arranged for a manicure, pedicure and nail polish at a shop on a desolate road. The woman making the coffee, or other drinks you might want, who also worked at the salon, sold her beverages two doors down.
I sat around, drank my coffee, and decided it was time to walk the neighborhood. So without a word (it would have taken 10 minutes to do the translation) I walked outside and walked the street for awhile. Back at the salon, and after another coffee, we saddled up to head for what turned out to be her aunt’s home.
She and her uncle have a nice-looking place from the outside, with the usual eclectic furnishings. I gathered we were borrowing her uncle’s motorbike, but that was just a guess. Not sure what the uncle does for work but they had a nice big cab pickup in the front.
So I arrive, not knowing what’s going on. The uncle brings me out a chair and finds a fan in a back room, and sets it up to blow on just me. I must have looked hot.
After maybe 20 minutes, the rest of the clan showed up on motorbikes -mom, sis, daughter, niece. This is the first I’ve known that we were having a group exercise. What fun!
We skirted around town a bit before entering a very busy area, lots of sidewalk stalls and lots of cars and motorbikes. We were at the Phra Srimahathat.
Entry to this area of temples was free and it was very busy – no Westerners in sight (until the tour). I just followed the ladies around and took photos. We stopped for some cold drinks, and then some fresh strawberries. Once Nan’s mom saw me eat one of Nan’s strawberries mom started feeding me hers.
One of the things I’m struck by is the need to kneel and say parayers at almost any buddha in sight. My knees wouldn’t be able to handle that.
Back at our bikes, I thought we were about to go somewhere when Nan’s son showed up. They were waiting for him; I did not know, once again. He had been in the military and was working cooking pad Thai at the temple.
Now it was time for the “tour.” There was a 15-seat trolley sitting there, some discussion and we got on. And waited – for more customers. Thankfully, they arrived and filled up the vehicle. But I have to say, this tour did me almost no good because the tour guide gave her spiel in Thai, as she should. Sounded like she did a good job, too.
Apparently, the ladies had enough of the hot sun and everyone rode to the local mall for the air conditioning (I was told). We walked around for a little and then, realizing I was hungry, I said let’s eat, to the agreement of everyone. I was looking for something Western, as I was needing a break from Thai, when a pizza place showed up. Perfect!
I was about to learn a lesson about the differences in eating Thai and Western. We had one pizza, three fruit drinks, a beer, 6 chicken wings, 2 small bowls of spicy shrimp spaghetti, and cheese-filled bread rolls. $55 would have seemed way out of whack if I hadn’t spent two months in the U.S. a year ago, regaining a healthy understanding about the differences in cost of living.
By contrast, and I’m getting ahead of myself by a day here, a dinner at a waterfront restaurant for four – seafood hot pot, spicy salad, small clams in sauce, a whole fried fish, rice, large beer – $15 plus. And trust me, the dinner was better – but I knew the ladies would rather have Western food for a change, especially given how relatively expensive it is.
Our touring was not ended for the day, however. First we went to an old brick mound site and then we traveled down the river for a bit before seeing what really impressed me from across the river, and as we approached over the bridge. I don’t know it’s name, but it absolutely dominates the local countryside and is an imposing presence when you cross the bridge.
And it’s not even close to being completed!
Here, we sat around, had an ice cream, and went our separate ways, only to reunite that evening – the subject of my next post.