It seems that ella has no problems with the accommodation (being a seasoned traveller she is used to much worse), but nevertheless, I can’t really unpack because there is nowhere to put anything.
We both wake late and wander off to find some breakfast. After this we stroll the streets which are a hive of activity. There are vendor stalls everywhere, lots of food stalls and the smell of it all makes me feel a bit queasy.
We wander for a while and then are accosted by a young Thai guy who persuades us to take a tuktuk to see various sights. He assures us that the driver is very safe and asks us to go to a commercial outlet so that the driver can receive a voucher for free fuel.
So, we climb in and sit on the bench seat and I experience my first hair-raising ride on a tuktuk. It feels a bit like a cross between two fairground rides – sitting in the Noddy car on the baby’s roundabout crossed with the dodgems driven by maniacs – we didn’t actually get barged by any other vehicles, but the imminent possibility kept us very alert and giggling like nervous schoolgirls.
We visit several temples with various buddhas. The temples are beautiful structures, very ornate and colourful with lots of gold and red with twinkly mirror glass.
In the event we are persuaded to visit four commercial enterprises, two tailors and two jewellery stores, and although we receive hard sell pressure from the shop assistants, we find it quite easy to resist any purchases.
Apparently the government have a scheme whereby the tuktuk drivers can charge only 20Tbhart (about 40p) for the trip, which can take hours, and in return customers are persuaded to visit retail outlets, which will be good for the economy, and by concession the drivers will get free petrol vouchers.
We do quite enjoy our trip which lasts several hours and we are finally dropped off at the royal palace, just as it is closing. At this point we are persuaded to take a river boat trip, which is very interesting, particularly seeing all the properties along the riverbank, built on stilts (mostly wooden shacks lilting very ominously towards the water).
The river is seething with big fish that come to the surface with their huge mouths open whenever they think there is a chance of being fed. It was like a frenzy of thrashing bodies in the water.
We have the boat to ourselves, although there is room for at least 20 people and we stop by a small floating market where vendors on boats selling souvenirs pull up alongside and are very pushy about selling us something. I buy a small toy for Mikey. The trip lasts about an hour, and as the bench seats are very uncomfortable, I am pleased to disembark.
We wander around for a while and then negotiate a price for a tuktuk to the hotel – without a commercial stop!
We arrive back at the hotel at around 18:30 and buy some street food – pad Thai again (this stuff is seriously good, and so cheap), which we eat in our room and then we both zonk out for a couple of hours.
We venture out again around 23:00 to find a snack and again eat in the room, whilst I introduced Ella to joys of Gavin & Stacey.