After a four-night stay, we looked forward to departing noisy frenetic Bangkok – eastern city of angels and devilishly dirty canals. We were booked 2nd class express air con but were dismayed to see our train pull up. More like a worn out subway car, the seats cramped our long legs and the journey north was not the pleasant experience we had played ahead in our minds.
Eight long hours on – and 2 hours late- we arrived in Phitsanulok, yet had another couple hours of travel ahead of us. First, a TukTuk (or as we call them – souped up golf cart) to the bus station, then a mini van for the one-hour trip to new Sukothai city, and after protracted negotiations, a Songtheaw (pick-up truck taxi) to the Orchid Hibiscus, a charming small guest resort managed by our second congenial Italian proprietor Paolo (the first being Guido in Amman).
In his surprisingly strong Italian accent, Paolo informed us that our timing was impeccable as the old city would play host to the Festival of Lights the very next day in honour of King Ramkhamhaeng, noteworthy as the founder of the modern-day Thai alphabet and Theravada Buddhism; it was meant to be an auspicious occasion.