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    Tropical Storm Tour: Thailand Part 25

    Sunday, June 28, 2015
    Phitsanulok, Thailand

    The cafe at the Mountain Green Resort in Dan Sai, Thailand.
    The cafe at the Mountain Green Resort in Dan Sai, Thailand.

    My little blue tent under a cover at the Mountain Green Resort in Dan Sai, Thailand.
    My little blue tent under a cover at the Mountain Green Resort in Dan Sai, Thailand.

    On Sunday, June 28, the green hills of Dan Sai glowed under a beautiful blue sky dotted with white, fluffy clouds. Too bad the weather wasn’t like that for the Phi Ta Khon festival the day before! (On Saturday, we received mostly overcast skies and a few rain showers with only a few brief hints of sun.) As I sat in the cafe of the Mountain Green Resort eating breakfast, Mari from Norway took off for the airport in Loei, about an hour’s drive away, to fly to Bangkok then home.

    The bus stop in Dan Sai, Thailand.
    The bus stop in Dan Sai, Thailand.

    The bus station after a downpour in Phitsanulok, Thailand.
    The bus station after a downpour in Phitsanulok, Thailand.

    Later, the MGR owner San pulled up a stool and had a nice, long chat with me about life in the USA and in Thailand, as well as the festival. He also explained that the MGR has an occupancy rate of 80% during high season and 30% in low season, and that he may have to stop advertising on Trip Advisor, because he has to pay no matter what, because it’s an ad. On booking.com, however, San only pays a commission if a room or teepee actually gets booked. He said that seems much more fair.

    A junked-up truck in Phitsanulok, Thailand.
    A junked-up truck in Phitsanulok, Thailand.

    A makeshift skatepark in Phitsanulok, Thailand.
    A makeshift skatepark in Phitsanulok, Thailand.

    After I spent a couple of hours getting ready to leave, I asked a lady who works in the coffee shop if I could pay an employee to ride me into town a mile away on a motorcycle. (I didn’t want to strain my back with my heavy pack and get all sweaty before a long bus ride.) She said no, but called San instead, who drove up from town and took me back down to the bus stop at high noon. I tried to pay him, but he refused my money, San is such a good guy. He is by far the nicest person I’ve ever met in Thailand. The next time I come back to this country, I’m going to make it a point to travel all the way to Dan Sai just to visit him, even if it’s not during the time of the Phi Ta Khon festival.

    A makeshift skatepark in Phitsanulok, Thailand.
    A makeshift skatepark in Phitsanulok, Thailand.

    An evening prayer service at Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat in Phitsanulok, Thailand.
    An evening prayer service at Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat in Phitsanulok, Thailand.

    I told the ticket seller at the bus stop I was going to Phitsanulok, but she shook her head no. She didn’t speak English, so I’m not sure why. I asked a policeman next door, so he talked to her and ended up telling me that the bus may be full of people traveling home from the festival, but to wait until 1:30 pm anyway just in case. When the bus showed up, there were actually several open seats. Lucky me! So, I climbed aboard and enjoyed the two-hour ride through the lush green countryside back to Phitsanulok. The seat next to mine was even open for my backpack, which is always a comfortable treat.

    As we arrived in town, I hired a tuk-tuk to drop me off at the Lithai Guesthouse, where they set me up in the exact same room I stayed in a few nights before. Since I could only spend one night in the city, I went out for a walk straight away so I could see a little bit of it. I headed up the banks of the Nan river where there is a wide walkway on each side filled with people walking, running and bicycling, I even saw a few skateboarders who had built their own little skatepark with some flat rails and a quarterpipe accompanied by some natural ledges. (I sure didn’t expect to see that in such a small town in Thailand. I’ve rarely even seen skaters in Bangkok!)

    Some gnarly roots in Phitsanulok, Thailand.
    Some gnarly roots in Phitsanulok, Thailand.

    Wat Ratcha Burana glows at dusk in Phitsanulok, Thailand.
    Wat Ratcha Burana glows at dusk in Phitsanulok, Thailand.

    I journeyed as far as Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat, where the Khmer-style prang glowed in the setting sun. An evening Buddhist prayer service was going on, so I slipped off my boots and stepped inside to sit on the floor. A few minutes later, it was over, and I decided to head back south to eat dinner at the Lithai. Even though it was dark by then, a lot of people were still out exercising. One lady who was out running stopped me for a chat just to ask me where I was from, where I worked and what I was doing in Thailand. She was really nice. After a couple of minutes, she resumed her run.

    Thai writing and rust on a sign in Phitsanulok, Thailand.
    Thai writing and rust on a sign in Phitsanulok, Thailand.

    A lady I met on the walkway by the Nan river in Phitsanulok, Thailand.
    A lady I met on the walkway by the Nan river in Phitsanulok, Thailand.

    A bit later, she was sitting on a bench resting and we had a second talk. She took a photo of me with her phone and said she would surprise her friends with it on Facebook. So, I asked her if I could also take one of her, and ended up getting a good one with some bicycles in the background. After we shared some more tidbits about each others’ lives, we said goodbye for the final time, and I kept walking south for a look at the night bazaar along the river, which sold all of the usual clothing and food.

    An insect cart at a night market in Phitsanulok, Thailand.
    An insect cart at a night market in Phitsanulok, Thailand.

    An insect cart at a night market in Phitsanulok, Thailand.
    An insect cart at a night market in Phitsanulok, Thailand.

    I ended up the night by eating dinner at It’s a Cake, the cafe on the ground floor of the Lithai Guesthouse. The place looks cleaner than a hospital and the food is decent, but the waitresses never smile. I wonder why they are so glum-faced? You don’t have to speak a foreign language to smile. In fact, my server never cracked even the slightest hint of a grin at me, but I saw her smile widely and laugh at something on the TV as I was leaving. Oh, the humanity! That’s right, smile at a machine but not at a fellow human being. Before bedtime, I walked over a few blocks to a different night market, where I bought a really yummy salad for only 30 baht ($1.00)! There was also a cart there selling insects, but I decided to pass on that one.

    Words and photos ©2015 Arcane Candy.

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