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The dawn of happiness

Sukhothai, Thailand
11/22/07

Finally! We are checking out of Hotel California. We were leaving the current capital of Thailand to visit the 1st capital of Siam, Sukhothai. The name of our destination translates to the dawn of happiness. Indeed! This morning I was feeling pretty damn thankful to be moving on.

My feeling of gratitude reminded today was Thanksgiving in the USA. The tradition for families to get together, share what they are thankful for, glutton themselves in a massive feeding frenzy and go into a food coma. The next day everyone is tired of each other and finds a way to escape spending more time with the family. Women head out to the malls while men stay in to watch football. Alex & I have made a tradition of skipping Thanksgiving and escaping the country. This year was no different, we just started earlier. Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Thailand. Alex & I are grateful for that. So are the free-range turkeys we saw on Koh Phi Phi since they are spared…at least for today.

Although, I was a bit sad to visit my jackfruit and Thai coffee ladies for the last time. Of course by now I should be calling many of these “ladies” by their first name. Two problems: I am crap with names and even worse with names that have more than 3 syllables. Even in my former job, I just made up many fun nicknames for people. Lucky enough for me they were welcomed and preferred.

The train was a 2nd class AC. Upside: we would not be sweating the entire time. Downside: my window was too foggy to watch the scenery unfold along the journey. Before the fog fully took hold, I was able to catch a few glimpses. The scenery I was able to view was not as green as I had anticipated especially coming out of monsoon season. More sights: rice paddies, water buffalos, conical hats. This seemed like a trailer preview of Vietnam?

That is why it is always good to have a book. I was reading Around the World in 80 Days. The traveler in the book was currently traveling by water. I was currently traveling by rail. This took me back to my train ride in Malaysia. As I read about the dry barren lands of Australia as I passed through the gorgeous green Malaysian jungle. Periodically I had to pause for meals, in 2nd class we were fed like we were on a flight. It was not as colorful as vendors hopping off and on the trains with various treats.

The journey from the train station to Sukhothai not stressful at all. People were genuinely friendly and helpful without agenda. The songtheaw driver and passengers told us how to catch the bus to our final destination. Once we caught the bus, a passenger showed me what the correct fare should be. At the bus station, we directed to another songtheaw that would take us to our destination of choice. The guesthouse we wanted to stay at was full. So was its neighbor. Third time is the charm? No! It had one room left but the property was run down and the windows and door did not securely lock. We hailed a tuk-tuk to our last option 2 kilometers from the main road. The driver waited to make sure that we secured a room before leaving.

I was glad the guesthouses in town were full. Our 4th choice was aptly called the No.4 guesthouse. We scored a sweet bungalow with a fully intact deck, queen bed with mosquito net and bathroom inside. Although I love Tavee guesthouse, it was annoying having to put clothes on and trek downstairs for a middle of the night pee. From our front deck, we had a view of the garden during the day. By night, we heard the sound of crickets and toads.

Alex & I were happy to be out of the big city. My favorite part of the day was watching the red sun set below the nearby rice paddy which captured its reflection in the water. Sitting on the front porch drinking a Chang Beer was not too shabby either. I was thankful.

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