[I am posting this using a wifi access point that I had to pay. It seems that Thai hotels are like hotels in the U.S. The bit more upmarket, then wifi is no longer free. Well, at least it beats the free 56K wifi that is available in most guesthouses.]
I believe this is the last time that I venture out of the normal circuit of Thai tourist cities. Cities where most foreigners go, that is. So, here I am on my first day in Nakhon Si Thammarat and I have already decided to return to Phuket tomorrow. The whole town is not ready for English speaking tourists.
This should be something charming if you have a Thai speaking travel companion, right? Well, the issue is that there is not even an infrastructure for tourism. We ask the hotel for a tour guide and they did not have one. Finally, after a lot of discussion, they finally decided that one of their staff members can be our guide. I somehow felt like I was the first foreigner way back when China just started opening up to the outside world.
Anyway, the day started nicely. Although it was cloudy, there was no rain. Our driver/guide decided to take us out of the city to Talum Puk cape. It is a small peninsula populated by oysters and crab fishermen. Unlike what I got to believe from the Lonely Planet guide, the beaches around this area are not as spectacular as Andaman Sea. Here, the gulf of Thailand is rougher. The tour guide reported that the whole cape may be under water in ten years. Global warming, I believe.
One interesting comment about Thailand and maybe the whole Asia in general, is that the local people are quite resourceful. I found it interesting to see concrete condominiums built specially for swallows to nest inside. As some of you may know, bird nest saliva is considered a delicacy in some circles. So, here we now have mass production of bird nests. I guess both the birds and the humans get something out of this relationship.
Returning back to the city, we ended up touring the biggest Wat south of Bangkok – Wat Phra Mahathat. Although not as grand as Wat Po, it has its own charm, especially when picture taking is encouraged. Later, I think I encountered the highlight of the day trip; visiting the shadow puppet theatre of Suchart Subsin. The elderly gentleman was gracious enough to provide us with a performance. Also, his workshop creates wonderful carvings in leather, something that I could not find on the local shops. So, I gouged a bit buying some of them.
Well, we are back in the hotel room and the rain has started to pour down in earnest again. Time for Phuket. Need to nurse this cold that seems to have been stuck in my chest.