HOT INFO On The Road

Margaret and Keel's Asian Adventure
Riding Tigers: REPORT #4
October 7, 1999, Phimai, Thailand

$1 = 40.8 bahts

So much has occurred since my last update, it is hard to know where to begin. I am so amazed that I just paid .50 u. for the Samlor or bicycle rickshaw to take me two miles to surf on the net. The old world and the new world coexist nicely in this country.

Local Transport in BKK
We were in Bangkok for about 9 days...we were ready to go when we left. One final piece of advice about Bangkok and it has to do with the metered taxis. During our time in Bangkok we had the occasion to take numerous metered taxis. If they would not use the meter we would take a different taxi. the problem is that some of the taxi drivers are very good and others are not so good, ie. poor driving or slow to return the change etc...the problem is how to know before you get in if this one is good or bad. Although this is a huge generalization, we found that those drivers who decorated the dash boards with Buddhist memorabilia were usually better than those who showed no types of religious icons in the vehicle. We discovered this the hard way when we took the taxi to the northern bus terminal to take the bus to Ayutthaya. In retrospect our taxi driver was probably spiked on amphetamine, a common problem around Bangkok. We worried for our lives as we traveled in excess of 100 mph careening between lanes, our protest in poor Thai only caused the accelerator to push farther into the floor...we were pretty pissed at the end but glad to be alive...lesson learned,,, if the dash board is not decorated with good Buddhist memorabilia, keep looking for one that is...

We took the bus to Ayutthaya which cost 34 baht and takes about 1.5 hours. For those who are after great ruins, this place is a must see...although the town itself is not so special, the ruins certainly are. We rented a driver and guide for 600 bhat for the day who took us all over. The better sites are located out of town. Some may want to rent a bicycle but the heat is always an issue for folks from Maine. The best value for the money for accommodations is the Weing Fa Hotel where a room with AC and private bath go for 400 baht. very nice place, a good restaurant is located 500 meters west down the street.

From there we were back to Bangkok to meet Thai friends who took us in a private car to Korat.. also known as Nakhon Ratchasima. Our friends had some silk business to attend . We were treated as special guest of this business and toured silk farms and the accompanying silk factory where some of the best silk in the world is produced. We were not allowed to spend a dime on food and accommodation for three days as our host took care of all of our needs. The generosity of the Thais is not to be matched. It was with our Thai friends that we were able to break through the tourist scene and see some real Thai people, eat with the locals and just see the real Thailand. A travelers dream come true. We went to some great restaurants where we ate fabulous Thai food... My favorite and most unique dish, fried chicken knuckles...yum We ate shrimp in perhaps six different ways, it was a Forrest Gump shrimp dream come true. We have had no stomach issues to date. For the budget traveler it's difficult to give alot of useful advice here...we stayed in motels that would be too expensive and ate in restaurants that only thais know about. My advice, do what ever you can to get to know the locals and see what happens...

From Korat we took the bus to Phimai as there is a big festival this weekend at the Khmer temples here in town...these temples are amazing...built in the 10 th century they are linked to the Angkor complex that exist in Cambodia and appears in the same style. The King who had Angkor built also had these built. We also plan to go and see the largest Banyan tree in all of thailand, which is located very near here. Phimai is very real Thailand...we see no tourist.. virtually no one speaks english and our Thai is improving daily. We are staying at the Phimai Inn which has an olympic swimming pool, full air-con, hot shower for 350 bhat. This motlel is certatinly better than any motel 6 and we appear to be the only guest in the motel. This inn is located about 2 kilometers out of town, which means it is quiet. For the money, it is the best value. the guesthouses in town are adequate but they are right on the street and appear to be noisy. It cost 20 baht for a bicycle rickshaw or "samlor" to take us from the motel to town, There is a slight hill and it becomes a struggle for the samlor driver, I haven't the heart to try and barter it down from twenty, (getting soft in my old age) although i have turned down a couple of rides who wanted to charge me 50 baht. for the same journey.I have met a norwegian man who has married a local and lives in a small village near here. He has invited me to come see his house which he built for about 15,000 US. He is the only "farang' living in the village. He has a thai wife and new baby, so we hope to visit and get a glimpse of Thai
village life.

Beer: as luck would have it my favorite beer so far is the cheapest beer. Called "Chang" a 22 oz. bottle cost about 30 bhat. its got some good hop finish and is not so sweet and malty like the Singha or Kloster. It reminds me of a pale ale but it is a lager...very good and served ice cold is a treat in this heat.

Birds: I have done some local birding around town but haven't gotten out to some of the good places yet...but saw this morning on the way to town a Chinese Pond Heron and Indian roller...great birds...

well enough for now...see ya again soon...keel

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