We have a 3:45pm flight booked from Bangkok to Phuket so decide to spend the morning exploring some of the streets near our hostel in the downtown area. It’s easy to leave our bags at the hostel because checkout isn’t until midday. This means we are unencumbered by our backpacks (light though they are). We are both fast falling in love with Bangkok. I’ve never enjoyed any city this much. There’s so many smells, sights and sounds. There’s places of hustle and places of calm all mingled into one. The local Thai food served at street restaurants is flavoursome and cheap but you can also find modern cuisine from all over the world in restaurants and cafes. Late model SUVs and sedans slip easily along the roads alongside brightly painted tuk tuks. It’s East meets West in a beautiful dance.
I had spied a wat from a window at the hostel. It turned out to be a huge complex with multiple buildings, may pet cats and some huge pink (albino?) cattle. I loved the sign at the entrance to the temple that said “No pets” but inside were two big relaxed temple cats with collars on and all. Perhaps the cats didn’t read the sign. This wat was very much alive and ringing with prayer. It seemed like another place where monks were trained. Local people were in the temple praying and some went to talk one-on-one with a young orange-robed monk sitting in another building.
Nearby a Chinese Buddhist temple was being renovated while the faithful prayed on roadside shrines. I love how the two forms of Buddhism coexist so closely in the same place.
Late in the afternoon, a short (and of course delayed) flight brought us from Bangkok to Phuket. We had booked a hostel in Phuket Old Town. It was a good choice. The hostel is immaculate and our room seemed more like a luxury boutique hotel suite than a double room at a backpacker hostel. Phuket Old Town is relatively nice. It’s set up for tourism so there are more Western food options than Thai (and the Thai options that do exist are very Western-styled Thai too). I was still struggling to eat after a few bouts of food poisoning so settled for some fresh squeezed juice but did try a few bites of Paul’s tasty pancake stack with ice cream and maple syrup. We walked a good 5km around Phuket Old Town getting our bearings. It is definitely dirtier than the places we walked in Bangkok but still a pleasant enough place.