20/02/2016 - Our flight into Bangkok was quick and uneventful. We even got given a light breakfast of a ham and cheese sandwich, coconut cake and a fruit salad on board which was a nice surprise. Once in Bangkok we got a taxi to our hotel. We had a bit of a relax after our early start and then walked to collect our train tickets, passing a local market and the train station on the way. It was so hot and humid and the walk took longer than we thought (possibly got a little lost along the way). Luckily the ticket office was air conditioned and had free water which revived us a bit. We then had a quick lunch before heading to Siam Square where we went to the cinema.
It was a very cute old fashioned cinema where the ushers, who showed us to our seats, were dressed in yellow and black uniforms that included bow ties. We had decided to gamble and got tickets to see Joy, which we'd not yet heard about but we were pleasantly surprised. Jennifer Lawrence was as usual amazing. Before the film began, just after the trailers we were instructed onscreen to pay respects to the King. At this moment everyone stood up while a short photo montage of the King came up on the screen. It was a really surreal experience and emphasised how well loved and revered he is in Thailand.
After the film we wandered around some of the shops in the Siam Centre before heading upstairs to get some food. We had a little feast sharing roast duck noodle soup, schezuan fish and steamed pork buns all washed down with a fresh coconut. For dessert we went a little less authentic and had ice cream. Later that evening we pampered ourselves with facemaskes that we'd bought weeks ago and had an early night in anticipation of our visitors the next day.
21/02/2016 - We woke up early as we were expecting Mum and Hannah to arrive in the morning. We got ready and headed down to breakfast only to be surprised by Mum who was already waiting for us. Her taxi driver hadn't been able to find the hostel we were moving to later that morning and had dropped her off at ours instead. It was a really lovely surprise. The only thing more surprising was the bright blue water we were given at breakfast to drink. After breakfast we attempted to walk to our new hostel but mum's suitcase and the uneven streets were proving problematic so we ended up getting a tuk tuk. Once at the hostel we got to catch up properly, relax and eat the delicious lemon drizzle cake mum had made and smuggled into the country, while we waited for Hannah to arrive.
Once Hannah arrived and freshened up we went to Wat Traimit but there was something going on. Crowds had gathered and were waiting along the sides of the pavements while official looking people guarded the gates. Mum asked someone but all we could make out was that in half an hour it should be over. So we decided to head over to China town in the meanwhile.
It was busy and with the heat and humidity it made for an interesting experience. On many of the menus of the restaurant we saw birds nest soup and sadly shark fin soup being advertised. We had a bit of an explore and pcked up possibly the largest pack of dried mango available. Once we were done we decided to give Wat Traimit another go.
It was still busy but this time we tried another entrance. We managed to squeeze our way to the gates through hoards of people only to find the temple was shut. We then had to squeeze our way back through possibly the same hoards. Part of what was going on involved the temple giving out free food and despite the tourism and the development of parts of Thailand the country still has issues with poverty so there were plenty of people trying to take advantage of a free meal. We had managed to get ourselves mixed up with the people queuing.
Once we finally got out of the temple we headed back to Siam Square for some food. We also walked through the MBK centre, one of Bangkok's less glamorous shopping centres before heading back to our hostel to relax for a bit. Before we got the chance to relax we had to drag all our bags and mum's (who had conveniently fallen asleep by this point) up three flights of stairs, which was harder than it sounds. In the evening we got taken to the wrong night market by our taxi driver, we ended up in pat pong market. A typical touristy market. Before we tried to tackle it we went and got some pad thai from a street kitchen, me and mum also shared some fresh papaya for dessert. We then spent an hour wandering around the market before we all ran out of steam, mum and Hannah still recovering from the flight over, and had to go back and to bed.
22/02/2016 - We got up and out of our room early. We had breakfast at the hostel which had the nice addition of some fresh watermelon. After breakfast we began our journey to Sukhothai, it began with a taxi to the train station. Once at the train station we had a little bit of a wait. Which is when we discovered that monks have their own waiting area. Who knew?! Once we finally got on the train we were given lunch. We got a curry, a stir fry and rice which was surprisingly tasty. The train journey was around six hours long and later in the journey we were also given coffee and cookies.
We went through some really pretty scenery which was a lot flatter than we were used to. When the train finally arrived at Pitsanulok we changed over to a bus via a tuk tuk. The next leg of our journey took another hour. From there we got a tuk tuk van hybrid to our hostel. Feeling slightly tired and like we had utilised all the forms of transport available we managed to check in. We had a bit of a freshen up before going to a local night market to find some food. After dinner we went back to our hostel to be told about a festival in local temple that was on for only one night so we went back to check it out. There was lots of food stalls, some entertainment that looked to include a talent/ pagent show. a fair ground and even some outside dancing space.
23/02/2016 - In the morning we got a tuk tuk to the Sukhothai Historical Park to see the ruins. We spent into early afternoon looking around and taking pictures. It was a really stunning and peaceful place. It was a super hot day again and shade was minimal which made it a struggle at times though. Once we were done we got a tuk tuk bus hybrid back to the town. We stopped at a local bakery to pick up bits for lunch, none of which we were entirely sure what they were. We split the mystery baked goods between us back at the hotel in their cute shaded garden. Mum went back to the room to recover from the heat while Fleur, Hannah and I hung out with a couple of beers (and some cheese straws that Hannah had brought us) and did some trip research. Later in the evening we went to dinner at a restaurant that had rabbits running around its grounds outside. They were very cute but sadly were too fast and jumpy to pet. Dinner was good but the stand out dish for originality alone had to be the banana samosa. It was a starter and we were all expecting it to have a savoury element but it was just a sweet banana samosa...perfect as a dessert but more than a little odd as a starter.
24/2/16 - We left the hostel in the morning and made the journey to Chiang Mai. Again we utilised most of Thailand's transport options, we took a tuk tuk, bus another tuk tuk and then train. The journey was another long one and again we got lunch. This time it was much more of a fishy menu with two types of mackerel dishes served up with the rice. The coffee and cookies slightly later in the journey helped make up for the slight mackerel overdose a little. We also broke into a green tea kit kat that had melted and reset so looked particularly appealing. It tasted quite good though. About an hour and a half from the end of our journey a storm began, there was thunder, lightening and some heavy rain. At the same time the train tried to climb a hill...it became clear very soon that it was struggling but no one on board was expecting what was to come. We ended up reversing back quite a distance in order to try and gain some more momentum to ascend the slippery hill, this happened at least three times! The last time the train was reversed all the way back to the last station that we passed, what seemed like miles earlier. We ended up waiting in the station about an hour. We couldn't quite make out what was going on bit whatever was happening meant that thankfully the next attempt saw us climb the hill and finally carry on on our way to Chiang Mai, only a couple of hours behind schedule!