After having spent seven hours in a dust storm known as third class on Thai Railways we arrived in the northern city of Phitsanalouk. My body felt as if I’d done ‘Cats’ without a warm up. The show, not the animal, and believe me I know what it’s like to do that show without a warm up.
Andrew was also struggling – which is a euphemism for he could hardly put one foot in front of the other. But it had been an incredibly amiable journey. I often find one meets a better class of person on lower class travel.
I had several conversations with the tiny man sat across from me, although neither of us could understand what the other was saying. But there is a universal language one can adopt when amongst foreigners, and there was lots of it spoken in carriage ten. A little openness can go a long way. If only President Trump would learn the technique the world might be a friendlier place. But let’s take a lesson out of his book and not get too political.
We fell out of the train with our rucksacks, (which have doubled in weight since we stupidly filled them with fake Ralph Lauren in Bangkok), into a coal-black night. As scorching as that fossil fuel too.
On first impressions the place seemed fairly uninspiring.
On second – quite the same.
Although the inhabitants are friendly enough and apparently there’s an important Buddha somewhere. We nearly made it to the temple today to visit the old boy, however, after having imbibed a tad too much Thai ‘rum’ in coach ten to ameliorate the journey, these old boys didn’t quite reach the Buddhahood! Plus I was on a slight come down having chewed remorselessly on one of Andrew’s powerful nicotine chewing gums for an hour, thinking it was a stale breath freshener. I did wonder when I got into the shower why I felt so energetic and ready to party. I’m not usually a morning person so I should have been suspicious of my new found vitality, instead I masticated even harder to try and get some flavour. It was only when my throat felt like old sandpaper and I was doing ‘The Hustle’ that I twigged.
I only have myself to blame, after all, I do realise one should never masticate in the shower.
I don’t know how Andrew manages to do it, no wonder he’s always searched at airport security. He always looks like an edgy coke dealer. Now I know why.
Along with the heady dose of nicotine I was also recovering from our supper of chicken feet the previous evening. Clucking ‘orrible! And there was a rather mean orange dog blocking our path so it was an easy decision. We knew The Buddha would understand – and there is always tomorrow, when I should feel a little karma.
Instead we opted for another dodgy bowl of something to do with pig and a soda water, then retired to our room for some more mastication, only minus the gum!
We are currently staying on the ninth floor of a hotel which is straight out of ‘The Shining’.
To make things even spookier we are in room 911.
As my husband said, Thank God we’re not flying tomorrow! And I shan’t go into detail about the carpet, oh, and the ceiling! But at under a tenner a night one really can’t complain.
And we do have a refrigerator in which to store our Chang lager. Highly useful, as I’m still struggling with the residual taste of the poultry’s ‘plates of meat’ plus the fag replacement is also lingering stubbornly on the palate.
When night-time arrived all at once, as it often does here in the tropics, we headed to the other side of the tracks. Literally.
Crossing a precarious railway bridge, ducking to avoid power lines, we came to the somewhat less salubrious part of town. A Street that wouldn’t even feature on the Monopoly board, even though some optimistic entrepreneur had stuck a couple of hotels on it.
We ate a mediocre, yet this time, recognisable meal and then made our way to a bar I’d read of in ‘The Lonely Planet’. A publication I am slowly losing faith in. Too often we have headed for somewhere the travel tome described as gay only to find a Klu Klux Klan rally in progress. I do exaggerate – but really! Tonight we ended up in a place that was meant to be full of ‘hipsters’ but was actually an alcoholic kindergarten. A bevy of underage smokers with their bevvies making us feel quite superannuated.
Not good for the confidence.
Luckily as we made our way back to room 911 a plump prostitute on the street corner beckoned me to join her.
‘Here, here’ she called out.
‘Here,here’ I thought.
Ego restored I smiled and politely declined. She wasn’t my type.
I’d rather have another bowl of chicken ankles.
Or masticate in the shower!