Learning how to ride a scooter in Issan!

Spent two nights in Ayutthaya, the former capital of Thailand, 2 hours by train (15 baht for 3rd class seat – $0.50!) away from Bangkok. Surprisingly not very heavily touristed, as I was expecting the backpacker street to be filled with guesthouses. A really nice place to chill out! Rode bicycles out to the ruins of temples. Tried to get in for the Thai price, since everyone on the street assumes I’m Thai. Didn’t work too well, as I was exposed as soon as they asked me something in Thai. Also, Ayutthaya is heavily touristed by big Japanese tour groups, so my Thai-ness wasn’t a given.

Our guesthouse in Ayutthaya

Temples in Ayutthaya

Eating in the markets around the temples was the highlight of Ayutthaya!

Taro ice cream

Elephants in Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya was our gateway to Issan – northeast Thailand – which is the least touristed part of Thailand. One full day of travel later, ended up in Nang Rong, where we spent two nights, as a jumping off point for Angkorian temples. Since the Cambodian border is closed to Preah Vihear, the place I had originally had my heart set on, I thought these other temples would be comparable. However, after visiting Angkor Wat, the temples, though nice, were a bit underwhelming.

Nice, but underwheleming once you’ve been to Angkor Wat

Per and I did have a really enjoyable stay there though, spending one afternoon learning to ride a semi-automatic scooter around the back roads, buying fruits and sticky rice from a local woman, eating in a hammock alongside a lake surrounded by palm trees. For some reason, our guesthouse had all French guests – we were the only non-Frenchies there. I couldn’t help but think that for everyone else who was in a rush to move on and see more sights, that they missed out on what I thought was the highlight of our stay, doing something that wasn’t listed as a “to-do” in the Lonely Planet.

Right now we’re in Chaiyaphum, where we’re hoping to taste more of Issan life. On July 25th, we’ll make our way to Bangkok and fly to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Plans are to spend a week diving in Malaysia, then making our way back overland to Bangkok.

Local market in silk village near Chaiyaphum

Great view of sunset from our hotel room in Chaiyaphum

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