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Rea View Searching for warmth and calm

SE Asia return

THAILAND | Tuesday, 14 February 2017 | Views [513]

Ayutthaya intact Buddha

Ayutthaya intact Buddha

Restless Bangkok beckons and threatens with its shopping warrens and thick soupy smog.

Three months of a cold, dry and dusty Albertan winter drove us to
make a last minute decision to once again escape to SE Asia. Within five days we left for Thailand, where we planned to await our visas for Vietnam. After four flights (btw ANA Nippon Airways rules!), three days later we arrived in Bangkok. Our familiarity with the sprawling hectic city's sights and sounds (and smells) made it simple to navigate to our favourite Sri Lankan restaurant and to inexpensive Thai clothing. An initial few nights in a discounted luxury room at The Berkeley Pratanum hotel eased our way as well - an oasis with a pool and extensive buffet breakfast.

Riding a 3rd class train car 80 km north of Bangkok for 50 cents, we visited the ancient Thai capital of Ayutthaya. Established in 1350, by 1685 it had a population twice that of London, but its era was ended by a Burmese invasion in 1767. Its Khmer (Cambodian) and Sukhothai architecture includes pointed bell-shaped stupas/chedis and prangs (cone-shaped obelisks), mostly devoted to Buddhism. We cycled to some of the ruins that are spread throughout the historic city, relishing in the fresher air and greenery. Encouraged to see the abundance of birds - egrets, herons, storks, hornbills, parakeets, and so many more. Their calls were varied and at times bizarre, even at night.

Bruce had noticed Air Asia's new and inexpensive flight to Mauritius from its hub in Kuala Lumpur... hmmm what an adventure that would be... We had been looking forward to relaxing at the beaches of Vietnam and hiking its hills, but the allure of the small island off Madagascar, once home to the Dodo and still harbouring unique birds and interesting wildlife, as well as beautiful beaches... Let's go!

 

Lao gon SE Asia, we're flying across the Indian Ocean....

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