Day 4 and it’s fair to say I’m struggling a bit. Today we had a particularly stupid day in which we spent 4 hours trying to deal with replacing my broken iPhone… to only partial success. A few weeks ago, tragically, I cried so much into my phone, I water damaged it. It came back to life but it turns out an already partially soggy phone is no match for the humidity here in Thailand and it’s now fully unresponsive. Because this took us so long to sort, we missed the opening for Wat Pho, the temple we were going to visit, so came home via a local Hindu Temple instead. The whole incident has caused me a fair amount of anxiety, although as I said to Steph, why would I expect my anxiety to just disappear because I’m in another country? It’s stupid that the thing that set it off was trying to deal with my broken phone and not anything to do with travelling! Once the incident was over, Steph turned round to me and said ‘I’ve decided I don’t like you so much when you’re stressed.’ Thanks for that buddy!
Everything just takes so long to do here. Between not always knowing where we’re going, poor access and language barriers, journeys that should take 20 minutes take an hour and a half and jobs that should take 10 minutes take two hours. It’s come as a surprise to me just how bad the access is here in Bangkok… I fully expected to encounter bad access but after my recent trip to Shanghai, and knowing that this is probably one of the most modern cities we’ll visit, I was expecting slightly more provision. This is probably the first place I’ve visited that I would say I would give serious consideration to recommending to a wheelchair user that didn’t have the ability to walk up a few stairs, at least. It’s frustrating because I feel like I’ve been here for four days and seen very little. The whole idea was to take the pace quite slowly so as not to exhaust ourselves, but somehow we seem to be going at a glacial pace and still exhausting ourselves! I’m in so much pain and I’m sure Steph can’t be faring much better. I’m trying to just keep it in my mind that I have three months in this part of the world and this isn’t like going on a four day city break – this is the first four days of a completely different way of living.
On the flip side, the Thai people are extremely friendly and accommodating and the sights that we have managed to visit have been incredible. Yesterday we spent a day touring round Ayutthaya in a Tuktuk. Ayutthaya was Thailand’s second capital and the world’s largest city in 1700. All that remains now are the temples and other buildings that were made in stone, but what does still stand is absolutely incredible… Truly mind-blowing. Getting on and off the local minibus (which was a challenge to find) and the Tuktuk did prove to be quite challenging but was doable. Because my chair doesn’t fold, finding places to store it can be difficult and the only option on the minibus was to buy another seat.
The day before involved a visit to the National Museum, Khao San Road and a massage parlour. We arrived at the museum with only an hour to spare because neither of us are particularly morning people and the journey we anticipated would take us half an hour took us well over two. The skytrain involves walking up five stairs and using several escalators (which they did stop for us to allow us to get in position once we’d made it up the first one) and then quite a long taxi ride with a driver who didn’t seem best pleased and having my chair on his front seat. The sculptures we saw in the museum were still very interesting though and actually several of the galleries were closed, so there wasn’t so much to see anyway. After we had dinner in Khao San Road, we both decided we were exhausted and would walk up the road then head home. Surprisingly to both of us, even this area that has a reputation as being a bustling, crazy backpacker street, had the familiar laid back vibe that seems to emanate throughout the city. The plan got slightly sidelined when we walked past a sign offering foot massages for about £3. One look at my swollen sausage feet and we knew this was a brilliant idea. We enjoyed it so much we then splashed out a whopping £6 for a full body oil massage. I was slightly concerned this might be a Thai style massage, where someone yanked on a limb until it flew across the room, but this was just a (not quite jabby enough in the knots) relaxing one. It’s safe to say I felt completely rejuvenated after the experience, if a little uncomfortable with the inner thigh and earlobe rubbing!