This is it…the last night in Thailand

Well, this is it. The time I’ve been dreading for months has finally come. This is my last night in Thailand. And what am I doing to commemorate it? I’m spending the entire night sitting in the airport! My very long flight back to the U.S. departs Bangkok at 6:40am tomorrow morning (the 4th). Given that I’d have to have left for the airport at like 3:30am, and the fact that I doubt I would have slept at all tonight anyways, I decided to come to the airport with my brother and his fiancee, who were going to Koh Samui tonight at 10:30pm, and just hang out at the airport.

Unfortunately, the United check-in desk doesn’t open till around 4am or so, which means that a large part of the airport is unavailable to me at the moment, as I can’t pass through immigration to access the bulk of the terminal till I’ve checked in! Well, I think I’ve found the “sleeping area” towards the end of the 3rd floor. It’s pretty quiet and there are bunches of people sleeping on the chairs and floor. Looks like I’m not alone in this boat. There’s even a plug for my computer! Ah, joyousness.

Anyways, the past two days have been rather action packed. My parents left for the U.S. on Tuesday, so I spent the past two days with my brother and his fiancee. We got up real early on Tuesday and set out to visit the famous Damnoen Saduk (spelling?) Floating Market, which is about 2 hours outside of Bangkok by bus. We made it onto a bus at 7:30am and made it there by 9:15am.

Damnoen Saduk is a town with a network of canals. We chartered a boat for 200 baht per person for one hour through the market. The boat trip itself was loads of fun and at times like a theme park ride! The floating market, though being mostly a tourist attraction, was very cool. The canal it ran along was packed with boats with vendors selling fruits and souvenirs. If you expressed interest in something, the vendors would pull your boat in with a hook! It was pretty crazy, with stuff to look at everywhere! In trying to get out we had a big traffic jam as well! It was great!

The bus ride back to Bangkok wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as it was from Bangkok. The bus was packed to the brim, rather hot, and took 2 and a half hours! When we finally made it back to Bangkok (1:30pm-ish) we settled on lunch at Khao San Rd, and then returned to the hotel to retrieve our bags (it was now around 3pm). Our day wasn’t over though…we were still planning on going to Ayutthaya. None of us felt terribly inclined to get on our third bus for the day, so we decided to take a taxi to the bus station and see if he offered to take us all the way to Ayutthaya for a decent price.

Low and behold, as we were nearly to the bus station, our taxi driver asked our destination and then offered to take us all the way there for 800 baht. Yes, it was 4 times the price that we’d pay on the bus, but my brother (who was paying) decided it was worth it. Our taxi driver was a lot of fun, despite the fact that he spoke very little English, and we actually made it in less than an hour, while the bus would have taken over two. No complaints on my part.

We checked into our hotel and then went to the train station to see if we could buy tickets to return to Bangkok the following day (today if you’re keeping track). As it turned out, we couldn’t buy advanced tickets, which was fine. We returned to the island that is the old city of Ayutthaya and walked around a bit, stopping for ice cream. We took Lonely Planet’s description and went to check out the ruins at the historic park, which were dramatically illuminated! It was very cool, though the venture caused dinner to wait till 10pm or so. It ended up being nearly midnight by the time we got to bed (remember, I was up at 5:45am!).

We were all so exhausted, that we decided to sleep in today. We all woke up at 9:30am, and after we all showered it was 10:30am. By the time we finished breakfast it was noon. We took a tuktuk (which look different in Ayutthaya) to the ruins. As soon as we started roaming around Wat Mahathat, which is most famous for its Buddha head intertwined in tree roots on a wall (which I’ve seen before), we realized just how unbearably hot it was! But we trudged on. Our next stop was a Wat next to Wat Mahathat, which had a wonderfully preserved Khmer-style stupa which you could actually go inside to see these beautiful paintings.

Ayutthaya, I should note, was the former capital of Siam. It fell to Burmese invaders in 1767 and many of the old sites now lie in ruin as the Burmese not only sacked but also burned the city. I’d been there before on a field trip with my Thai Ways class at the beginning of the semester, but we didn’t see much. Most of the ruined Wats are no longer active monasteries, though there are plenty of non-ruined Wats that still are.

We continued on, walking to the other side of the park to see one more ruined Wat, with these three large bell-shaped Stupas which was quite nice. We also went next door to an active Wat that contained one of the largest bronze Buddhas in Thailand. It was so big that it was literally looking down on you, which was sort of creepy. It was cool though.

At this point we were all really hot and really exhausted, so we decided to get our stuff and head for the train station. We made it onto a train that left at 3:45pm, which go us into Bangkok at like 4:30pm! It was quite nice, especially since we ended up with second class seats for 40 baht a piece. It was a nice trio.

In Bangkok, we had lunch/dinner near the hotel and then returned to retrieve the rest of our luggage. We hung out there for a while so we could re-pack, and then came here to the airport at 8:30pm. It’s now almost 1am and I’ve been here since 9pm. Only 5 more hours to go! My only concern about sleeping is missing my flight! Well, we’ll see. Brrr, so cold…glad I have a coat! Some of these folks were real smart and brought blankets.

Alright, well chances are this is my last post from within Thailand. But fear not, there will be more to come. Gosh…it’s gonna be real tough getting re-acquainted with the U.S.! Well, goodbye from Thailand for the last time…at least for this trip. There will be more though. I’ve just gotta keep satisfying this travel bug I’ve got! Right, well till later (and maybe a different continent).

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