It was a question I found myself asking over and over again during my time in Phitsanulok. What was meant to be a few nights stay ended up being the most drawn out and boring part of my trip, all thanks to a stomach ache.
I arrived in Phitsanulok by bus from Sukhothai. If you ever get asked to stand in a bus for an hour or more, just say no and wait for the next one to leave. I was crammed into the isle of the bus with about 40 school aged girls and a smelly man dressed in denim from head to toe. Luckily most of the people on board got off within the first half hour of the trip so I was able to move about, but this was by far the most uncomfortably half hour of travel to date in Thailand. Once I arrived I found a mototaxi to take me to a hostel and booked a room for two nights. That’s about as exciting as day 1 got.
I spent the entire day sick laying in bed watching movies and catching up on a few television shows. Luckily I had booked an aircon room so I was fairly comfortable. The highlight of the day was when I went to the front desk and paid for another 2 nights in the hostel.
I was feeling a little better so I explored the surrounding neighborhood a little. I found a market selling everything from fresh fish and produce to clothing and shoes and spent a little time wandering around before once again feeling ill and heading back to my room until dinner. The neighborhood around my hostel ended up being rather boring and this would be the first of many days where I asked myself why I was still in Phitsanulok. For the first time in a few days I was actually hungry so I made my way to the night Bazaar and had something to eat by the river front. After dinner I wandered through the clothing shops that had sprung up along the street before calling it a night and heading back to my hostel. Along the way I stopped to have a beer at a cafe and found myself talking to a brave little gecko that kept crawling onto my table. Apparently I was really in need of some quality conversation after a few days alone in my room, and since I had yet to encounter another traveler I resorted to the kind of behavior one only exhibits when drunk… which sadly I wasn’t. Feeling shameful of my crazy behavior I went back to my hostel and locked myself in my room until morning.
Since I was feeling loads better this morning I made an effort to look like a human and went to the train station to book my ticket for Chiang Mai. Unfortunately I would be stuck in Phitsanulok for another day and had to go back to the hostel to book yet another night… I’ve really grown tired of Phitsanulok by this point, but since I’d be staying another day I decided to find my way to Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahathat which houses the stunning bronze Buddha. It was a decent walk from my hostel, but since I couldn’t seem to find a taxi to save my life, walking was the only option. Once there I pulled on my cardigan and headed inside. There was no entrance fee, which was a nice change of pace from everywhere else I had been previously, so I took off my shoes and kneeled down so I could take a photo. Despite the size and lack of entertainment in Phitsanulok, Wat Phra Si is fairly busy, and there were a lot of tourists taking photos of the revered Buddha image. After a few minutes I quietly left the temple and followed a small group of Thai people through a doorway to the inside of the complex. They made their way to another ore private temple and entered to give their respects to the Buddha image inside, and I followed because it was nice to have a moment of peace and quiet in such a beautiful and religious place. While I was there, two monks came in and bowed to the Buddha image about 6 or so times before getting up and leaving. It was the first time I had ever been in a temple with monks so close to me, and it made the experience of being there that much more memorable.
Once I had spent a respectful amount of time in the temple, and waited for the monks to leave, I made my way to the small market inside the temple walls. I spent an hour or so browsing through the stalls and found my way to the back of the temple where there is a set of ruins from another temple that crumbled centuries ago. It hadn’t been mentioned in my guidebook, and no one had told me anything about it, so I was surprised to see it, but it was almost as cool as the bronze Buddha inside and well worth seeing. After a few quick photos, I headed back to my hostel and relaxed before catching dinner down by the river.
I’m actually leaving!! I was beginning to think this day would never come. I headed out for a late breakfast and went straight back to my room to finish packing. My train was scheduled to leave around 1:30 so I checked out of my hostel a little early and made my way to the station. The train, of course, was running on Thai time so it didn’t arrive until well after two, but I did get to witness the most unholy of monks while I waited, so I didn’t mind the delay.
After 8 hours on the train I made it safely to Chiang Mai and found a place to stay. It’s been about a week since I arrived, so I’m a little behind on updating, and since its Songkran or the Thai New Year today, I’m going to be enjoying the 4 day long water festival and will do my best to update you all then.
Day 1 Total: 790 Baht or $27 for motorbike ride, bus, food, drinks, and accommodation
Day 2 Total: 475 Baht 0r $16.22 for food, drinks, and accommodation
Day 3 Total: 1348 Baht or $46 for food, drinks, a pair of shorts,and accommodation
Day 4 Total: 338 Baht or $11.54 for food, drinks and accommodation
Day 5 Total: 1224 Baht or $41.80 for food, drinks, train ticket, and accommodation