Bikes and cockroaches
Away from the beaches there is a completely different Thailand waiting to be discovered. We decide to stop in Kenchanaburi with the famous bridge over the river Kwai. It’s a lovely town and we are soon taught we are not pronouncing it correctly, it should be more like ‘square’ (without the s obviously). The town has a small but impressive museum, which explains a lot of the history of the railway line, including the bridge.
In Ayutthaya we rent bikes because we can’t find any local shop that sells second hand bikes. They’re only one dollar to rent for the day, so we zoom around visiting old temples and an old elephant kraal. They say the Thai might have found their inspiration for this city and all its temples in Angkor Wat, and they certainly are impressive.
We really like the head of a Buddha statue, completely surrounded by roots of an old tree at the Wat Phra Mahathat and the impressive 3 stupas of Wat Phra Si Sanphet, especially at night when they are lit up for a few hours after sunset.
After talking to some locals we discover a town about 20km east of Ayutthaya is the best place to buy secondhand bikes from Japan, apparently they are much better quality than the Thai-made bikes…
This becomes our mission when we leave Ayutthaya – buying our bikes for the trip. With the language barrier it’s not easy, but there is always somebody around who speaks English. After a few of those detours and runarounds (hope you included our search for bikes in your calculation for the total kilometers :-)) we finally find what we are looking for. A car garage that seems to have expanded into second hand bikes. Two rows of bikes parked out the front and we can try anyone we like.
After test riding many bikes around the carpark, we decide to buy 2 very similar silver bikes, one with front basket and reflector, the other without. One with bits of rust spray-painted over, the other without, one has a rusty chain and one doesn’t. They both look fairly well-used and the saddle doesn’t really go up high enough for Jon, but they are now our bikes and we love ‘m.
We ride them around town to find a nice place to eat, we use them to drop off our clothes at the laundry or simply to explore a town or temples. We’ll see how long they last on the back of the car with the dust clogging up all the moving bits, but hopefully they will survive with a bit of TLC (liefde en verzorging voor de niet-engels sprekenden).
We drove past a festival when looking for a place to stay and decided to explore, we are still not sure what they were celebrating, but it was big and busy. Stallholders were giving us food to try, not sure what it all was but some of it tasted good. We were quite happy the owners of the insect snack stalls didn’t offer us any of their cockroaches, beetles, frogs and larvae… the local kids seem to love them though and apparently you squeeze the big ones to see if they are good. But if good means fat enough, crunchy enough, oily enough or something else we couldn’t work out.
The festival had it all, food stalls, snacks, freak shows, snake charmers, clothes, guns, knives and any other possible weapon you could think off, and lots and lots of drooping lights hanging from the trees. As it was late and dark as we left, we had to wake up some monks at a local wat to ask permission to camp. They are always happy to let you stay in a corner of the wat and apart from lots of barking dogs at first we had another good sleep.