ooooo – A day when I actually did some photography.

Day 146, Tuesday 29 May 2012, Phuket

I had another average sleep and spent half the day feeling tired. I will really aim for a whole day of lying down when I get to the Perhentians tomorrow, I have a few days there. With only a week remaining in SE Asia I feel like I should be fully active every day – but then I get stuck between wanting to do things and being so completely de-motivated I cannot even log on to the computer and just lie there staring at the ceiling. Today was a mix of those days – I blame the weather.

There was a fair chunk of rain last night and again this morning when I headed out to find some breakfast. Unlike most other places I have been Nai Yang had no ‘street’ options for breakfast, I wandered the strip just after 8:00 AM and nothing was open, this left me no choice from the hotel and it was sooooooooooooooooooooooo expensive, even by NZ standards ! Luckily I had Thai baht I was ‘happy’ to get rid of.

Five minutes, is all it took – I have turned into Meliesha ! +


After breakfast and when the rain stopped I took a walk through town. Not a lot happening, me and the dog, but I loved the signs on the bars. Even in the evening it was fairly deserted.




And then up the north side of the beach for an hour or so. The beach at Nai Yang is supposedly 13kms long and apart from some young local guys net fishing I saw no-one on the beach, fantastic!





I also found this deserted and desolate old resort, I was walking up the driveway with the intent of getting some photos when the inevitable dog came out and started barking at me – I made a disappointed retreat, the place looked very cool.



The Bus Bar – maybe a good idea last year…


Not something that is strictly enforced I suspect, I mean this is still Thailand.


The resort has some tortoises in a fenced off area, normally I would mightily disapprove of this, but did enjoy a couple of photo ops they presented me. His/her back feet were a couple of inches off the ground and wiggling away…


Run for it, no one will find us !


After lunch I spent an hour round the pool, soaking up some of the brief sunshine in the day, plus of course a wee dip. Thats my room behind the steps – oh and the sun had come out by now…


I then went wandering around looking for some life and lunch. I ended up at a beach side pizza joint, the only place with customers and had a reasonable pizza and mango shake. Amusingly – a small group, I think they were French, but could have been Italian – they were speaking English, ordered a vegetarian pizza, and then asked the Thai waiter to bring a bottle of red he would recommend went with the pizza – not a decision I personally would make !

I didn’t do a lot after lunch, dozed, read, blog posted yesterday, a bit of email, dozed etc etc.

At 5:00 i went walking again, down to the south side of the beach, I wanted to get to the southern point of the beach but tide and a small river got in the way. I think the big hotel at the south end is also deserted and I was keen to go have a look but gave up in the end. I did get some good photos in the small national park on the way down.


The sky was looking amazing, brooding and heavy on the horizon – so I walked back towards the village and took a LOT of photos of the clouds and sea until the storm arrived and then I had to run for shelter – and just made it before the heavens opened again.





I stopped for dinner and a drink in the same place as last night and then headed back to my room for photo viewing, editing and blog posting over a scotch and coke and some good music (HDU).

Ah, “run fat boy run” has just come on TV, one of my favourite movies, and i can sympathise with Simon Pegg right now.


+ for those readers who do not know me, Meliesha is my daughter, she is A) living in Bristol, England and I am going to stay with her for a few days soon, which I am very excited about, and B) she is the messiest person I know – I am pretty sure not much has changed. Hurricane Mel 🙂

Two ferries, a van and a bus – Koh Tao to Phuket

Day 145, Monday 28 May 2012, Koh Tao – Phuket

I had a much better sleep last night, best one in Koh Tao, maybe it was because I removed my pack from the side of the bed ! I am not sure when this habit started or even why, probably from laziness, definitely not for security and I don’t snuggle up to it – honest. The bed is big and comfortable and sprawling in it maybe allowed for a good sleep. When I get go Phuket tonight I will do the same.

I was packed and ready for breakie at 7.00 and had my last meal with the miserable bastards over the road, I am pretty sure not one of them smiled once. For the first time since Alex’s place in Kuching, way back in week one, I had muesli and fruit for breakfast- yum!

After breakie I checked out of Ananda Villa and on to the ferry that was the start of my journey to Phuket. Since I have been on Koh Tao I have seen a number of people, mainly girls, with injuries – slings, bandages and plastered legs (due to getting plastered ?) and this morning in the boat queue it was no different. Mae Haad main drag, people get up late here.


I ended up on two fast catamaran ferries, the first took us to Koh Pha Ngan, where we waited for an hour for the second boat to Donsak on the mainland, via Koh Samui. The first leg was the longest and by far the roughest with lots of vomit bags being handed out, not to me of course! On Koh Pha Ngan I bought a roll from one of the street vendors, the lettuce was a bit sad looking and no gloves were used like in the west. Ferry 1 at Koh Tao.


I spent the hour waiting for the ferry wondering if this was a wise decision or not ! Ferry two.


The ferry/bus company have this awesome (and yet so simple) system of using coloured stickers on both passenger and large bags to identify where you are going. For Donsak we had yellow stickers with the final destination written on in pen. This means the boat crew can easily point you in the right direction without having any language issues and all the bags can get stacked accordingly. It was pretty cool and I have not seen anywhere else. Well done !





From the ferry all the passengers were loaded onto vans or busses depending on final destinations, it appears there was myself and a German couple going to Phuket, though we were in a full van that headed into Surat Thani, the main local town.


After a half hour wait the three of us got onto a bus heading for Phuket, with an estimated travel time of six hours – oh joy. The bus at least was pretty empty, though we spent the first hour driving around the back streets of Surat Thani picking up passengers which was a wee bit frustrating, but it utterly the norm for all of SE Asia.

My Sony MP3 player that I have had for three years started to play up today, it looks like it has been badly impacted by humidity, which has not happened before, as the screen has a lot of moisture inside. All the controls are working really randomly so it is unusable, hopefully it will dry out and work OK, if not I guess KL is a better place than many to replace it. Thankfully I had loaded a couple of gig of music on my phone or I would have gone insane on the bus ride.

We passed through the town of Phang Nga on the way, the karsts are amazing around here, sadly it was quite late in the day so photography was not really that good. If I had more time I would come back here as the scenery is stunning – a Ha Long Bay on land.


The three of us were dropped off at the highway junction with the airport road, I had booked a cheap room at the Nai Yang Beach Resort (37 NZD a night) and the Germans decided to check it out as well, it is close to the airport which was why I chose it over Phuket town which is 30km away. We were ripped off with the taxi ride, but had no choice as there was only one – and apparently that is the price – things are expensive on Phuket!

I had a very nice masman chicken curry at a beach restaurant, Nai Yang is a bit like Koh Tao except more deserted, lots of restaurants and bars on a beach strip. I was finishing my beer after dinner when the rain came. You can easily tell those who have only just arrived in Asia from those who have been here for at least a few days. As the first one or two drops of rain hit, I grabbed my beer and stuff and moved quickly under the shelter, the experienced people around me did likewise as the staff started rushing out. There was a group of four Spanish guys who were bemusedly wondering why everyone was rushing in side over a couple of drops of rain – when the heavens just opened and dumped a few hundred litres of water on them in a matter of seconds, they were soaked – I was laughing…

After dinner I spent the rest of the night in my room, trying to choose between the eighty five TV channels – most of course in Thai. The internet doesn’t work in my room unfortunately.

There was quite a bit of rain in the night.

A stroll in the hills

Day 144, Sunday 27 May 2012, Koh Tao.

Bloody neighbours, what is it with people and playing loud music at 2.00 am – jeez I am getting old, but I always hated Dark side of the moon.

But…… I had the weirdest dream last night, after I finally managed to get to sleep and Dark side of the moon featured in it. When the dreams weirdness woke and all was silent I wasn’t sure if the whole thing had been a dream. Pretty sure it was both though – a weird dream and bloody neighbours.

As with every other morning, the ferry blasted its horn at 5.00 am, normally I doze for an hour or so, but this morning, even though I was incredibly tired I could not get back to sleep – one of those nights.

I booked my accommodation in Phuket this morning, as i have no desire to party or shop or doing anything Phuket like I am staying way the hell out of town at a beach near the airport. I only have two nights there – I arrive by bus late tomorrow and leave by plane early two days later, so am not planning on a lot of sight seeing anyway. Hopefully it will be quieter there than here. I am counting down the days now, damnit.

With no diving planned for the day I didn’t do much until late morning when I decided to do a mega walk and go to the two main view points on the island. It was quite sunny and warm when I left and I walked for about an hour, up and down numerous hills, passed a few photo worthy things.






Warning – it gets steep


And even steeper : )



Tanote Rock viewpoint was my first destination and I stopped for a lovely watermelon shake and a bottle of water. It was still hot and sunny.


The view – look how damn high I walked !


My next objective was twin view viewpoint, which was even higher, I made it up to the reservoir and was walking down the dirt track towards the next climb when a dog appeared from one of the few huts by the road side and started going nuts in the middle of the track. No one came out to calm it down soI decided on caution as the best option, which basically meant scrapping Twin View and walking back the way I came. This didn’t really bother me too much as I was primarily doing this for the exercise as well as the view and to kill some time.

And then the rain came down – I saw it coming but there was nothing I could do about it, I was a good forty minute walk to town, so I just walked on until I got back to the top of the main climb where I took my shirt off and jogged all the way back to town. At times the rain was incredibly hard, it stung my chest as it hit, I got absolutely soaked and somehow managed to lose my shirt when it fell out of my bag. It was my last remaining NZ shirt, my Asics shirt I seem to be wearing in all photos of me ! I did get my second run in which was good, a faster pace than the other day and no pain at anywhere either – alright !

Once back in town, I had a shower, lunch and about five litres of water.

I didn’t really achieve much else in the day and the evening was beyond uneventful.

My nephews band “Heroes for sale” passed through round one of the Smokefree Rock Quest (a music competition for school bands) last night, very pleased as they are pretty cool.

Five months !!

Day 143, Saturday 26 May 2012 – Koh Tao

Wow – five months on the road !

I really cannot believe I have lasted this long, though I am definitely losing enthusiasm for the solo travelling thing. There are many good things about travelling on your own but there are downsides as well . For me the biggest has been the periods of loneliness I have experienced pretty much from the start and as this leg of the trip winds down those periods are becoming more prolonged. Though actually the day today was pretty good.

It was a much quieter night last night and I woke too late to run before the day got too warm Instead I opted for plan B and stayed in bed until 8.00 when I got up for breakie.

The day was a little windier than yesterday and the forecast for the next week is not overly flash either – not inspiring when I have flying (which I hate) and diving (which I love) as the key activities for the next ten days, so I was a little concerned we may not go out today. I was down at Easy Divers for 10:00 and found I was the only fun diver going out, luckily there was a dive class as well or the boat would have been cancelled, along with my dive.

I love being the only fun diver as it means I get the dive master to myself and the dive can be focused around my abilities rather than those of the most inexperienced – which sometimes is me of course !

A mass of dive boats, Koh Tao is a dive school factory !


Loading up


The original plan was to dive a site imaginatively named Southwest, but with strong north westerlies blowing in the boat captain changed the plan and we went to Shark Island – not that there are any sharks, but you can guess why it is named that way. It was a bouncy wee ride down to the south side of Koh Tao to Shark Island.


Dive master Stitch and I. He was a good guy, English – so easy to talk crap with.


It was a pretty good dive, we followed a pair of decent size grouper for a while, then hit a patch of quite strong current so had to leave the pair and head back towards the boat, visibility at the shallower depths was great, and diving in clear deep blue water with nothing around or below was quite exhilarating ! it was the best dive of the two days.

The second dive was supposed to be at White Rock, but again due to the swell this was changed and we dived at one of the shallow reefs at Hing Gnam.


It being a shallow dive we managed almost an hour under water and I still had a ton of air left, I really had my buoyancy dialled on this dive, so enjoyed it immensely. Great visibility again and I got to play in a nice school of small barracuda.

The ride back to shore was a bumpy one….


The afternoon was spent pretty much doing sod all, I had planned to walk back up to Sairee beach for the evening, have a drink or two at one of the bars. However, bad weather set in just before sunset and we had quite a period of heavy rain with some thunder, so I didn’t stray beyond the local cafe, with its bad service – again.





Once I got sick of that, I picked up an expensive bottle of cheap Aussie shiraz and went to my room to watch TV, type a blog post and celebrate five months of SE Asian solo travel.

A toast to Five Months – cheers !

Koh Tao – first run in 2012 and more diving

Day 142, Friday 25 May 2012 – Koh Tao

One noisy neighbour kept me awake for half the night, I think it was the people from the room below playing the Sex Pistols “great rock and roll swindle” over and over. Normally I would not disapprove of people playing the Sex Pistol, but come on – R n R swindle was an awful album and not to be played loudly – ever.

I had semi-planned on getting up early and getting out for a run this morning and as I was awake at 6.00 I did! I have been talking about going running for a while but have just been able to motivate myself, and to be honest – I was never going to run in Bangkok anyway.

Koh Tao is not that big and there are not too many roads to run, it is also “undulating” as my friend Vicki would say. I ran along the main road to the nth end of Sairee beach and back, probably about 5km at a slow 6 minute km pace. I passed a few stumbling young people walking back from the various all night parties that go on here – not a pretty sight and the stink of alcohol was overpowering in some places. Apart from a sore hip, I felt pretty good, I was sucking a lot of air on the ups, but once I got the hang of it I was running reasonably smoothly. I will plan on a new route tomorrow and try to get a run in each morning before diving.

Even at 6.00 it was still warm enough to make running a sweaty affair so everything was washed as soon as I got back to my room.

After a leisurely breakfast I headed down to the dive shop for the 10.00 Am boat and my first experience of Thailand diving. There was a small group diving today so we were on the boat and out on the water pretty quickly. The ride out to the first dive site Chumpon Pinnacle took about forty minutes in probably the biggest swell I have been in on the way to a site, getting the gear ready was challenging at times – not that it was a huge swell !

The dive was pretty good, shortish as we had a couple of fairly new divers in the group who used a lot quicker than the more experienced of us. The visibility was good and there was no current below the surface. Saw a couple of quite reasonable size groupers, but no whale sharks – they very occasionally frequent the area.

Dive two was at Twins Pinnacle, a slightly shallower (and therefore longer) dive. When we arrived at the site there was a small swell but the weather was pretty good.


The second dive was about fifty minutes, again- great vis. but didn’t see anything spectacular – lots of life, some nice schools of small fish though. As we were ascending I could see the weather had turned, the swell had increased and as I approached the surface I could see the rain drops hitting the sea. Though the current wasn’t strong staying near the boat was interesting.



I enjoyed the dives and have booked in for two more tomorrow – weather dependant !

I did bugger all for the rest of the day, mooched and watched TV in my room, dinner at the local cafe, with the most ‘relaxed’ service I have seen since I left Sepilok in Malaysian Borneo in Februrary.

I rang both Dom and Aiden this afternoon (my sons), but neither answered so will give em another go tomorrow !

Koh Tao…

Days, 140/141 Wednesday/Thursday, 23/24 May 2012, Bangkok

Happy Birthday Meliesha ! 🙂

Weird Japanese guy and the snorer really screwed up my sleep,  so tired yet again and with another overnight train ride tonight it will be another loooooong day coming. I hung around the hostel until I got tossed out at 11.30, half an hour after check out – OK not really tossed out, but I left then. I did watch the final episode in season two of Sherlock. Awesome – has it been fully shown in NZ – I almost gave away a spoiler !

Scott, is an Aussie guy, my age, staying in the hostel, he wanted to know how to get to the main station so we went together.


As my train wasn’t leaving till 7.30 PM we decided to hang out for the day and went and checked out Wat Traimit as it was near the station.



The Buddha figure is 3 metres high, weighs 5.5 tonnes and is solid gold ! Awesome.


Me wishing for world peace (well not really, but I am not going to say what I wished for : ) )



A coffin maker, doing a final polish on the footpath.


It was another stinking hot day, it had been raining on the way to the station was quite humid and in this is part of town the sewers were stinking. Scott and i decided to catch the train to the malls as he wanted to grab a few things I had time to kill and wanted to kill it in relative coolness.

I made it back to the station for 5.00 PM and hung around in the station until it was time to get onto the train. At 6.00 PM the national anthem was played and everyone in the station- westerners and all stood up for the minute, i haven’t experienced that since I was a kid in England. I also got a message from Danny, the girl who had boiling water burns in Pakse, saying she was recovering well and been allowed to go to Myanmar to continue her travels – great news indeed.




I was fortunate enough to not have to share my seat again and had a nice couple from Melbourne, Kay and Colin over the aisle from me, great to have people to chat to over a beer or two until the beds were pulled down around 9.30.

I didn’t sleep much until the train arrived in Chumphon over an hour late at 5.30 am (we were due at 4.15). this was actually a good thing as the bus from the station to the ferry to the islands doesn’t leave until 6.00, so time for a quick Nescafe before boarding the bus.


The ferry ride was just under two hours, the ferry was pretty full and most people dozed the trip away, I plugged myself into some music and closed my eyes, but didn’t really nod off.

I am staying at the Ananda Inn on Mae Haad beach, which is pretty much where the ferry docks, the beach isn’t stunning and the village reminds me a bit of El Nido in the Philippines, but not as quaint. After breakfast and a lie down I went for a walk around the town and over to the main tourist are of Sai ree beach. I am pretty glad I chose not to stay there as it is a busy spot with a lot of late night bucket bars+ and I would imagine noisy as heck.





I also booked my diving for tomorrow – 2 dives from 10.00 AM – will see how good it is. At this stage I am not overly enthused with Koh Tao, so hoping for some awesome diving or it could be a long four days.

+ Buckets are really common, especially in Thailand, they are a (I guess) a litre plastic bucket that serves as a glass for cheap cocktails or more commonly spirit mixes, like whisky and coke. The alcohol content is high, the quality low and they are cheap and aimed at getting the young uns drunk as skunks.

a nothing day

Day 90, Tuesday 03 April 2012, Bangkok

A bit jaded this morning after one or two vodkas too many last night. I had breakfast with John and have his contact details for when I eventually arrive in Sweden, which I am looking forward to. I lurked – pretty much entirely in bed, for the morning, in the guesthouse and finally left at chucking out time at 11.00

Tuk tuk to the mini-van depot – and discovered I was not ripped off the by tuk tuk on the day I arrived, the price is the price ! The mini-van driver was a loony, lane changing every 10 or 15 seconds, didn’t seem to make any progress through the traffic, but it didn’t bother him, we did make it unscathed back to downtown Bangkok though, so a bonus really.

I did very little after that, my nose had been streaming for the past 24 hours and I was dead tired so just spagged the afternoon in the good old HI-Sukhumvit hostel as tomorrow I am up at 4.30 to get to the airport to fly to Da Nang.

What wat is what 3

Day 89, Monday 02 April 2012, Ayutthaya

A quick post as I am going to get too far behind again, it is lateish in the evening and I have no wifi in my room in Da Nang and the next few days will get busy I suspect.

Last full day in Ayutthaya and I got the bike again and rode out to the eastern wats, definitely not as good as the ones in the centre of town, but here are a few photos from them.













I also rode to the remains of the Portugese settlement – a few bricks on the ground… and then to the floating market…. where I took a photo of a buffalo as the market was neither floating nor a proper market.P1110443

After a wee lie down I went on a late afternoon boat tour of the rivers around the island. The tour was Ok, no real guidance from the boat guy, but saw the town from the other side which was interesting anyway. P1110461



Saw these people feeding the river catfish – earning credits for the next incarnation.P1110468

Ayutthaya was hit badly in the floods last year and you can see on the house how high the water went.P1110517


And again the water line on this temple site is a good four metres above the normal tide mark.P1110515

On the boat trip there was two other people from my guest house, John and his daughter Jesse, I joined them for a couple of drinks and then dinner at one of the restaurants in town. we then went back to the hostel and had a couple more drinks, where the Swiss guest house owner joined us as well.

It was a pretty good day, nice to hang with some people for dinner.

What Wat is What – 2

Day 88, Sunday 01 April 2012, Ayutthaya.

Pinch and punch for the first of the month, no returns.

Not a bad sleep was had in my luxury pad in Ayutthaya, I have been going through one of those sleeping badly phases again and once I am in one I just have to ride it out. Breakfast here was great, eggs on toast, fruit, yoghurt, fruit juice and coffee (instant was free, which suits me fine). I also woke up to some nice wordy emails this morning, so yay thanks family and friends ! I do love them.

Today was bike day and I was going to ride and see the western sites today with a plan to do the east tomorrow. My butt is still a bit raw from the riding around in Inle so no point in doing a long and uncomfortable day when I can do it slowly. I also want to avoid being out in the worst of the days heat as I am still a bit dehydrated and well there is no point in heat stroke either. My wheels were Ok, seat a bit low and the chain rattled like mad, so at least people knew I was coming !

The first stop was Wat Suwan Awas, it was not particularly exciting with the exception of this stunning Buddha, I just love this image.

Wat Cherng Tha. I liked this site as I was the only person here !

I particularly liked this pile of old broken plastic Buddhas, old photos and things that people had left on the various ruins.

I then cycles a couple of KM’s out of town to Wat Phu Khao Thong, though there was only this massive pagoda there it was well worth a visit. The building, like a lot around here is not exactly straight…. there was a group of photogs here, reminded me of some of the great Flickr meet-ups we had in Auckland – and the fact I just missed one at wonderful Muriwai beach : (

I rode back around the road on the outside of the river and found this bizarre park/temple thing, not sure what it was, it was like a small theme park, lots of statues, games amid the small temples. Weird… I had an awesome lunch there and later discovered I had again knocked the camera on to manual focus so most of the pictures here had to be deleted.

Wat Chaiwattanaram is one of the big guns at Ayutthaya but sadly was closed due to damage from the floods late last year. I took a photo tomorrow (which was yesterday as I type) that shows the water line on the temples.

St Jospehs Church – not often I get to take photos of churches ! The Portugese had a settlement here in the 1800’s

Wat Phutthaisawan. All around Thailand, and in every Thai restaurant in NZ are photos of the King, this one is on top of piles of sand bags used to keep water out of the temples during the floods. I am not sure how successful that was sorry!

There is always one who refuses to conform.

A ride on ride off ferry across the river.

Wat Worachetha Ram. The Thai used to put valuables, gold, rubies, jewels etc into the heads of the buddhas, when the Burmese sacked Ayutthaya they cut all the heads of the buddhas looking for the valuables.

My last Wat for the day – Wat Lokaya Suttha, i was not the only one. Loads of buses filled with Chinese tourists came here to see the reclining Buddha.

I was the only one walked around… the wats are all very clean, there are hoards of people sweeping leaves and rubbish off the ruins and if you poke around, like I do, you are sure to find a broom or two.

I then rode back to a cafe near the guest house and watched the sunset over the ruins while eating dinner. Dinner was had at the same place I had lunch, spring rolls and Thai basil rice with vege and tofu – they had run out of chicken !. It was damn good and very hot !. I am a wee bit skinnier than normal and in a semi-state of hunger all the time so have vowed to eat more and more often.

Well after nineteen days I finally took some concrete pills, some deep breaths and marched into the bathroom with the trusty Gillette in hand and had a shave. It was a real mission I can tell you, and my face is hardly smooth as a babies bum now, but good to get it done.

This was followed by a repeat of last night, music, RTD’s and blogging.

What wat is what ?

Day 87, Saturday 31 March 31 2012, Ayutthaya.

I didn’t really sleep that much last night, though it was unfair to call the place a flea pit as I woke this morning with no bites on me anywhere ! I got up and had the first cold shower in weeks. One of the benefits of travelling with Mike was we generally stayed in slightly more up market guest houses (yet still cheap) than I normally did on my own and most had at least lukewarm showers.

After packing up my gear Giovanni and I went and met R and B for another  final breakfast together. After saying goodbye to the three of them for the second time I headed off to the river for the boat down to the train. I enjoyed the few days I spent with G and R n B and hope to maybe see them in their home towns one day.

I had originally planned to go to Kanchanaburi, the home of the Bridge over the River Kwai, but was told there was not a lot to do there for the four days I have to kill before heading back to Bangkok for my early flight to Da Nang in Vietnam on the 4th. So I ended up deciding on Ayutthaya instead. Both towns are within a couple of hours of central Bangkok so no drama getting to either. I chose Ayutthaya as it was once the capital of Thailand and has a number of old temples to check out, and yes I still love old temples. Plus I have hardly used my camera in days and you must all be sick of blog posts that are not full of pictures. I may have to do some tests and see how many people actually read the words!

I caught a couple of trains to Victory Monument and then walked around in the brutal heat of 9.30 am looking for a mini-van that went to Ayutthaya, the vans are supposed to be only slightly more expensive than the bus, but get you there a whole lot quicker. As it turned out the mini-van was less than the guide book said at only 60baht for the ride, and it was new, air conned and we all had our own seats, it also only took 1 half hours to get there too – bonus start to the day. From the bus station I got seriously ripped off by a tuk-tuk driver in getting a lift to the hostel I chose off the internet – Prom Tong mansion. The tuk-tuks here are totally different to anyway else – still three wheels but that is about the only thing they have in common with others, this is a typical design, but an extravagant paint job.

I am going to have to say it lives up to its mansion name ! about $4 a more than the good hostel I use in Bangkok, but wow a world of difference, big room, the most comfortable bed I have slept on in weeks (if not months) , great breakie etc etc. My only complaint is the channels on the TV are rubbish – and no football ! I got used to nights in watching the beautiful game. The other thing I liked about it was the manageress took time to explain to me all the key sites in town, gave me a map and a guide book and recommendations on the best way to see them – without any suggestions of tours. I really appreciate it when hostels do this, and it was only the second time in three months.

It was mid-day, roasting hot – but not as humid as BKK, when i set off for a walk to the wats close to the guest house.

Ayutthaya is an island town built where three rivers – Mae Nam Lomburi, Chao Phraya (the main river in BKK) and Pa Sak, meet. Building of the capital city commenced in 1350 by King U-Thong and it was the centre of Thailand until being sacked and burnt by the Burmese in 1767. The current town has  been built around the ruins. There are numerous sites all around and I have decided to break things up into 3-4 hour days and see the place over a few days, I like the hostel so no need to rush and it is damn hot outside !

At the first wat I had my first banana pancake of my travels, I have not consciously avoided them but banana pancake is also the name given to a type of traveller who follow a reasonably fixed route of party towns around SE Asia, anyway it was nice…

First stop was Wat Maha That – which features the wonderful Buddha head in a tree.

The wats here are not in the same condition as either Angkor or Bagan, and sadly due to the flooding last year close access to a number of the sites is not allowed. There is also minimal carvings or murals to be seen. Part of me agrees that these sites are ‘as found’ and not overly renovated, but I do really miss the carvings.

What I did love with all the things I have seen here is the unrepaired Buddha figures, though many parts have been put together to form vaguely recognisable figures, i found them exquisite and have many photos.

Wat Ratchaburana

Inside the central pagoda in this temple was a stairway leading down to a small grotto with some lovely mural work. This apparently has also been recently discovered.

Wat Tummickurat

Like a number of the temples in town this temple had a working monastery attached. These monks were doing laps of the old monastery.

Wat Phra Si Sanphet

And the final Wat for the day

Wat Phra Ram

Tourists can take an elephant tour around the outside of the grand palace area, I didn’t do one as I do not agree with them in principle but I guess the elephants are probably better looked after than some working elephants in SE Asia.

I was pretty wrecked after almost four hours of walking, I foolishly decided to walk in jandals (flip flops to you readers not from NZ), instead of  my usual sandals – my feet really did not appreciate the lack of padding and were quite sore by the time I got to lie down later in the day.  After a shower I wandered down to the local market and had a meal and a beer and then stopped to buy an ice cream and some Smirnoff Ice RTD’s to take back to the room – a huge Saturday night in…

you will be pleased to know that there will be more temples tomorrow : )

My nephew Fraser is a great young musician and is the drummer in a two piece band, Heroes for Sale. He has an awesome record collection (mine) and a very good taste in music (just stay away from the dance music Frase, OK). His band played one of their first gigs a few days ago as part of the Titirangi Festival of Music and I so wished I could have been there to see them. Awesome stuff Fraser.

Not sure if the linky will work…