Yesterday I rendered Ayutthaya mostly in pics because the words wouldn't have been so lovely. Truth told I wasn't feeling the town.
It started on arrival. I tumbled out of the minivan, big bag that'd been riding on my lap now following behind me, and was approached seconds after, still foggy a.f.
"Where you going?" The man asks through a multi-missing-tooth gap.
"Uhh... Tamarind Guesthouse."
"You need tuktuk?"
I'm fumbling through mind and phone for bearings. "How much?"
Brain clicks and grinds, a hard drive paging. "We can do that." Dammit, I should've negotiated!
But I'm rolling in the back of an Ayutthaya tuktuk with the funky front end I read about in Lonely Planet. There's a sweet little girl, 5 or 6 maybe, sitting across. I smile. She smiles.
The too short drive takes me to the Good Morning Tamarind. I flail out. I tell him I only have 1000 baht and need change.
Stride to the reception desk and stand, behind which a boy is video gaming. I wait and watch, cranky. Soon the driver comes.
"Money," he says.
"I'm working on it."
Driver yells up the balcony at woman cleaning. He looks at the booking on my phone. I glean from context there is no guest who booked on agoda staying there today--check the other Tamarind. Guess this is the Doubletree and I'm at the Hilton or something.
Clamber back in the tuktuk. The sweet girl helps with my bag, says "we'll take you." Her, I like.
Now at the original Tamarind Guesthouse. "Mo-ney." He says and now I'm getting annoyed. Is this all our relationship is? Besides, he's charged me at least double what the trip is worth so he can deal with farang bullshit. Consider it a service charge.
"I have to get you change," I say, holding up a thousand baht bill (30ish bucks, recall). "Unless you can break a thousand?" I then realize my idioms won't make sense but it doesn't matter anyway because no taxi or tuktuk driver in Bangkok has been able to change a thousand so I know this guy can't.
Then he pulls out a wad of bills to make Freeway Ricky Ross proud. Counts out a 500 and twenty twenties.
Fine. Fair enough. And the Tamarind room and staff are lovely. The ruins are breathtaking. The heat defies adjectives.
But every time I walk the streets I get harassed.
"You want tuktuk?"
"Where you going?"
C'mon guys, I don't want to knock the hustle, but if I need a ride I'll ask for it. I know how to walk and enjoy it. Although, one three separate occasions I do nearly take a header, my steps stopped by uneven sidewalk unmaintained since the capital fell it seems. Now I see why the guide book recommends renting a bike.
And some of the restaurants where I want to dine and privately owned sites (sorry to my friends and fam--I'd hoped to get pics from the Million Toy Museum) are closed on Mondays, I realize too late. My fault--days and times are in the LP but damn if I don't overlook some info in all the abbrvs.
A hot, semi-restless night (the AC sure tries but it's fighting a losing battle) gives way to morning. My legs are heavy as I venture into the warming day and my eyes overlook the broken balustrade walkway.
Now cranky and bleeding but wide awake I walk back. I'm pretty much done here. Take off my flip flops and turn my big toe up so I am respectful of the house's rules while not bleeding on it's floor I get back upstairs, shower, and pack. I'll hide there until it's departure time.
Soon, pack on my back, sweating soon as I hit the door, I plug earphones (Offspring's Americana, because I have Feelings), and make the 1.2 km walk in my own world.
A hopeful tuktuk driver, not understanding or caring to heed international body language yells "Where you going?"
"I've got it," I say and pound my chest. Temper tantrum, act of defiance, general rudeness in a country where I'm a guest, or just crazy from the heat I don't know.
I arrive at the minibus terminal (a bank parking lot). I see the sharks circling. Uncertain as always, I cross the street a few times.
"Where you going?"
He points. "It's over there. 20 minutes."
I stand in the sun and pace. In another kind act, a woman in a pink and purple screen printed cat shirt offers me a spot to cop on a concrete planter.
"Kawp kuhn khrap."
I sit and wipe prodigious sweat from my brow.
Then a driver leers out from behind cat shirt lady.
"Where you going?"
"Where you staying?"
"You need taxi?"
"No. Taking the minivan. Minibus. Whatever."
"You should take taxi. Is cheaper."
Bullshit. "I already paid."
Then another tuktuker. "Where you going?"
"Bus here 25 minutes. You see Ayutthaya? Want tour?"
Then I recognize the missing teeth. You got enough from me already.
"I did. I'm good. I'm leaving."