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March 15, 2007

The Old City

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Frame of Wat

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Frame of Wat

 

Me again, I’ve been in a town called Auytthaya for the last couple of days.  It’s the town that Michelle and I were supposed to visit, but had to skip because of my illness.  The city was the capital of Siam (now Thailand) from around 1350-1750 AD.  Which means that there a lots of interesting old temples around to look at.  I rented a bike (pedal one this time) yesterday and spent the day going around and visiting quite a few of them.  In the evening I took a boat tour to three more.

Wat and Lily Pond

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Wat and Lily Pond

 

Going around I could really feel how this was when the Thai’s were at their best.  It felt like I imagine going to see the pyramids would.  The temples were built by the kings for storing their bones or to commemorate an important victory.  The change between the newer temples I’ve been seeing couldn’t have more drastic as all of them here are built from brick or stone and are definitely showing their age.  Most of temples elsewhere all have the same style, colors, and decorations and really start to look the same quite often.  Not the case here.

I’ve had some computer issues lately so this update is a little late coming and some of the pictures I tried uploading didn’t work out, hopefully they aren’t ruined for good.  I had a little Thai boy, about 7, nearly sitting on my lap looking at the pictures with me giving me a thumbs up for the ones that he liked.  Lucky for you I didn’t upload all of them he liked otherwise you’d be here a while looking through them.

Wat at Sunset

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Wat at Sunset

 
Buddah Head in Tree

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Buddah Head in Tree

 

My plans were to continue north to the Chiang Mai area and spend a couple of weeks near there.  It is their mountainous region where they still have people living in their original tribal villages that you can trek out to in addition to the waterfalls and nature nearby.  Also, I had to be out of the country by Saturday because I only had a 30 day visa and that is easy to do from there as it is near both Burma and Laos.

However the air quality there is absolutely horrible right now due to smoke from fires set by farmers burning off last years crops.  They do this every year, but it has been especially dry for a while and has gotten much bigger than they anticipated.  Because of this I decided to go to Cambodia instead primarily to see Angkor Wat and figure out what else to do from there.

I don’t think I will be spending much, if any, more time in Thailand as I’ll probably be moving on around the end of the month.  I enjoyed it there and it was a good place to spend my first significant time on my own overseas.  It is a very well traveled circuit for people doing similar trips as mine so even if I had some travel difficulties I was never too concerned about if I would get somewhere, just when.

Polite Ronald McDonald

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Polite Ronald McDonald

 

Life here isn’t unrecognizable from other places I’ve been.  Most of the people seem to be well enough off.  If there isn’t a 7-11 on every block then there is usually two or three.  Cell phones are everywhere although its still just the adults and not all of the kids too.  The last town even had some pimped out tuk-tuk with nice wheels or airbrushing on the side, even one or two with some booming speakers going by.  All influenced by the westerners so things are changing.

One funny story from the day I left.  Since I wasn’t planning on leaving Thailand so soon I had a fair number of Baht left that I need to exchange to US dollars since that is what they want in Cambodia.  I wondered into a bank and told them how much I had.  The guy works on his calculator for a moment, goes over to a desk behind him, immediately has exactly how much he wants, comes back, and shows me a slip of paper saying $146.

The minimum I was going to accept was $200 for what I was exchanging and couldn’t believe that I was going to have to haggle over the exchange rate.  I began asking the exchange rate, to which he said 35 and change which is right.  He banged away on his calculator for about three more minutes and I couldn’t figure out what he was doing.  All he had to do was divide 7000 by 35 and it would be right.  Finally he shows me his paper pointing at the bottom which was 4,450 or thereabouts.

I’m looking trying to figure it out when he starts talking about Baht.  Finally I realized that the bank only had 146  US dollars (they showed me, a one hundred, two 20s, a 5, and a 1).  Thats how many bahts he was going to take and give it all to me.  I smiled, understanding now, and told him I would just do all of it together at the airport.  After I walked out I couldn’t help laughing about it, just seemed so odd to me.  The exchange rate at the airport wasn’t too bad and they had lots of 20’s they could give me which will be easier to deal with in Cambodia anyways.  Thanks for reading.

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