Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bangkok - Chatuchak Market, Departure to Ayutthaya

Today has been one of those intensely satisfying days. We started the day by fiddling in the morning with a batch script to resize images from the Nokia, the first step of maybe eventually being able to upload them over wifi. Mary got the GraphicsMagick command line resize working and Josh wanted to make a batch that was a little smarter and would check each file in a directory to see if a small version of it existed and only copy/resize it if it didn't. Before completing that project, we came to the conclusion that it was better saved for the bus, packed up our hotel room, checked out, and walked to the post office. We mailed 10 kilos of backpacks, towel, and souvenirs home for approximately $60. Not to bad, and we are now officially down to two bags again, which is great. Rick Steves is absolutely right about the importance of keeping yourself to one bag. Not only is an extra bag annoying, you get treated differently too.

Next we grabbed an interesting pink noodle dish from a street vendor for a light breakfast, stopped at the watch shop where Josh purchased a new band for his watch a few days ago to have it shortened, then took a city bus to the north side intercity bus station. We checked our large bag and proceeded to the weekend Chatuchak Market. We'd intended to walk, but when we saw the appropriate air-con bus we hopped on. Sometimes it's worth 33 cents to get in the AC for a bit and we knew we wouldn't have another opportunity for hours. We probably could have spent a lot of money at the market, but having just posted souvenirs home, we mostly restrained ourselves, sticking primarily to lunch, blended Thai iced tea (yay for phase transitions going on in my stomach), and ice cream. The market was impressive, selling an array of goods including but not limited to antiques, house wares, typical tourist crap, jewelry, beads, cute little ceramic vegetables, silk flowers, clothes, modern art, and pets (including baby squirrels--sorry Nick, we didn't get one for you).

From Drop Box

I especially liked these elephant carvings. Too bad he didn't have any small pieces.

From Drop Box

When we were done with the market, we hopped the same bus back to the bus station where we caught our 2-hour bus to Ayutthaya, the old capital of Siam. The buses run every 20 minutes, so there wasn't even any concern about getting there at the right time, or much of a wait for the bus to leave. It was a very comfortable bus, with AC, comfortable seats, good shocks, and plenty of space. Entirely unlike any of the buses we took in India. It wasn't even all that expensive, $1.50 each.

When we arrived, we wandered around in the heat for a bit trying to get our bearings. Just when we were pretty sure we knew where we were, Josh spotted a sign for a hotel he'd been reading about that sounded especially nice, aside from it's lack of AC. We went in and were charmed by the grounds, in addition to the glowing recommendation from Lonely Planet. They appear to have added a new building or installed AC since Lonely Planet was last here, and at the AC price of 600 Bhat ($18) this is tied for our most expensive room of the trip so far, but it is also the nicest. There is a beautiful deck out over a lily pond, and the AC unit has a thermostat that it seems to respect. The attached bathroom is not air conditioned, which seemed a little funky when she was telling not to run the AC with the bathroom door open, but after a shower I can attest that it is actually kind of awesome. We spent what little was left of the afternoon sitting out on the deck over the lily pond: Mary blogging and Josh finishing the resize script. As we discovered after dinner, you can even get a cold beer for a dollar to drink out on the deck. Too bad we don’t like beer. The only thing this place is lacking is wifi (or Internet in general) but on the way to dinner I did find a little unsecured wifi. Let's hear it for Linksys, a name you can trust in unsecured Internet access. Dinner was at an outdoor restaurant, and basically your typical excellent Thai dinner.

From Drop Box

And now, for possibly the first time since arriving in Delhi, I am caught up to the present moment in blogging. It's been a good day. Low key, but good.

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