Here I have been babbling about the trip to Phitsanulok and I haven’t even described where I was going. So here’s a little about this famous Thai city (borrowed from Wikipedia):
- An important, historic city in lower northern Thailand and the capital of Phitsanulok Province, which stretches all the way to the Laotian border.
- Phitsanulok is one of the oldest cities in Thailand, founded over 600 years ago.
- Best known as the birthplace of King Naresuan, who freed the country from Burmese domination in the late 16th century, and that of his brother and successor King Ekathosarot (Sanphet III).
- As the crossroad between the northern and central regions of the country, it has long been important both for political and strategic reasons, and was fought over many times in centuries past.
- Phitsanulok was the capital of Thailand for 25 years. On the banks of the Nan River, the city was originally a small Khmer outpost known as Song Kwae, before the Khwae Noi River changed its course in the 11th century CE.
- Phitsanulok is about 377 kilometers north of Bangkok by car, and covers some 10,816 square kilometers.
- Consists of a mountain region and a plain region. It has many waterfalls, forests and caves – Kaeng Sopha waterfall, Phu Hin Rong Kla and Phu Soi Dow. In the south plains along the Yom River and the Nan River is the most important agricultural district of Phitsanulok.
- Has a tropical savanna climate. Winters are dry and very warm. Temperatures rise until April, which is very hot, with the average daily maximum at 37.4 °C (99.3 °F). The monsoon season runs from May through October, with heavy rain and somewhat cooler temperatures during the day, although nights remain warm.
- Phitsanulok lies primarily on flatland with some hills, and is sometimes called Song Kwae, the city of two rivers, a name dating to a time centuries ago when the Nan and Khwae Noi Rivers met near the city. Today, only the Nan River flows through Phitsanulok.
- Phitsanulok’s main tourist attraction is Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat, known locally simply as Wat Yai (the big temple). This famous temple, built in 1357, is home to the Phra Buddha Chinnarat, which is one of the most revered Buddha figures in Thailand, and the official symbol of Phitsanulok Province.
- The city is home to the following 12 active temples where Theravada Buddhism is practiced by city residents: Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat, Wat Ratchaburana, Wat Aranyik, Wat Nang Phaya, Wat Chedi Yod Thong, Wat Tamajak, Wat Mai Opayaram, Wat Kuha Sawan, Wat Nong Bua, Wat Sri Wisut Tharam,Wat Sra Gaew Pratum Thong, Wat Tha Maprang
One other point about Phitsanulok – there is very little English signage anywhere, at least in the section of town where the hotel, the Amarin Lagoon, was located. It did appear there was more of a Western feel along the riverfront, as that is the area where most tourists visit and stay.
Always have a backup plan
I’ve mentioned this often on this blog that having contingency plans for when things go wrong, and they will, is extremely important. I like to say to have a Plan B, and a Plan C, and a Plan D (and then just wing it!).
Well, I didn’t do a good job of planning on this trip, as I’ve already explained. First there was the hotel confirmation paperwork not in hand, and then I trusted my camera battery to last longer than it was capable. Yes, I left the recharge station in Hua Hin.
So, of course, Sunday in Sukhothai the camera quit on me – right in the middle of some touring in the Sukhothai National Park – beautiful place. Backup plan was – cellphone. I hate taking pictures with a phone but I had no choice. Now I was just hoping there was enough memory on the phone to handle all the photos I take on these trips (Update: I did reach the phone’s limit.).
Dinner on the floor
Day 2 dinner was once again with Nan’s family, although a slightly different mix. Her daughter was replaced by her son’s girlfriend, and Mae’s husband (?) was there. He would be providing transportation both Saturday and Sunday in his double cab pickup.
Nan was the main cook behind this meal – two whole fish, chicken/mushrooms/onions, a couple of greens, and a spicy noodle. And, of course, rice.
As the night before, we all sat around in a circle on the floor, a bit of a challenge for me with my bum knee but hunger will persevere. I was served and looked after such as a special guest. Kind of nice.
What is really strange, however, was what happened after dinner. I was just sitting on the floor, up against a wall, when Nan decides now is a good time to massage my foot, and then leg. Then her 20-year-old neice starts in on my other leg. Then they both did my arms, after instructing me to lay down. Meanwhile, Mae was trying to help when she realized her boyfriend was watching. She rightly started giving him a massage.
After that, just some small talk that I had no involvement in, except once in awhile someone would direct a question to me, and we would scramble with the phone translations. Too hard to communicate that way.
But a delicious meal with good company – and a surprise massage to boot.