We are decidedly non-tourists, but we do like our 7-Elevens, takeout food at the Khaohom Resort, Lollygagging poolside, and the little “Big C” experience.
Its hard to compete with the sights and experiences at Ayutthaya, but as we left the area we both agreed we aren’t really the “touristy” type for very long. You’ve seen one ancient ruin you’ve seen em all! Now that we are halfway through our trip we can stop and notice smaller things.
Like 7-Elevens and our dependence on them. In a land where we know not a single Thai word, 7-Eleven feels like comfort food. We choose routes now that will ensure rest stops there. They have all the right things! Air conditioning, an ice machine, pineapple turnovers, cold lemonade, and beer for Randy. Unless of course it’s between the hours of 2 and 5pm, in which case they aren’t selling to him or anyone else. There’s regulations around that, and apparently it’s because they don’t want school aged children getting their paws on beer. Randy feels quite confident that no child, rabid dog or otherwise is getting hold of any beer he be in possession of after a 100k ride (not during a ride, mind you), but he’s not about the change the laws, so he wanders a few doors down and gets his beer from an independent seller who is a little flexible on the issue.
Night before last we checked into the Khaohom Resort and it turned out to be a cute little, super clean, roadside motel-style accommodation near Srimahapho. The operators there spoke no English but we managed to communicate anyways. Too exhausted after our 106k day to seek food so we looked at a takeout menu they had and with the help of google translate selected a dish and hoped for the best. A half hour later the friendly Thai guy on the motorcycle brought our food right to our door with steaming hot pots full of shrimps with glass noodles, along with real plates & cutlery. Such a nice experience. That wonderful young Thai man assured us (with the very little English he knew) that he was there ALL night and would watch our bicycles ALL night while we slept. He then did his rounds on his bicycle, diligently riding up and down the length of the row of rooms (there were only about 10), ensuring ours, and the other two guests’ security.
Yesterday we saw the most crazy busy 7-Eleven. It was at a busy intersection, almost no parking, a steep driveway to get into it, and street vendors were setup all around it, almost right up to the doorway. Pork balls, noodle dishes, BBQ bananas, chicken on sticks, fresh fruit of every origin, bags of strawberries (bought some of those!), clothing enough to dress an entire country, flip flops, brooms, veggies, dollar-store housewares, dried mangos, you name it. There were vendors lined right out to the street and almost a half kilometre down the road.
We had two fairly hard days of cycling. The heat compounds our efforts exponentially. The first day was 106km in 36c heat and the second day was about 63km in the same but the added dimension of strong headwinds. It’s like an open-air convection oven and we are roasting inside of it!
So, when our hotel in Prachinburi showed a pool, we just knew we needed to have a rest day, sitting in the shade staring at the pool, occasionally cooling off in it, and wondering how everyday citizens deal with the heat. Since we could not in good conscience just sit motionless ALL day, we ventured across many lanes of traffic on foot and checked out a Thai shopping mall & grocery store called The Big C. Randy read somewhere that it was a “little” one, but hey….we needed to see how Thai people experience grocery shopping.
The Big C is like an open-concept shopping mall/food court/Walmart-style department store/movie theatre/shoe store all combined. There was a KFC, a DQ, and a Mr. Donut among a whole bunch of Japanese & Thai foods. Parking outside was predominantly for scooters & motorcycles and cars were relegated to the outer perimeter of the parking facilities.
Walking through the aisles of the Big C was an experience. Mostly hunting down snack foods, we saw things that simply don’t appeal to us. Like Basil Seed Drink with Peach Flavor, or the Shredded Seasoned Cuttlefish, or the sheets of Roasted Seaweed. We left the Grilled Seaweed Giant Sheet Paprika Flavor behind in favour of Gummi Bears.
We noticed that ground meats and pork chops etc were sold in a scoop-it-yourself style, much like we do with our fruit and veggies, and then they are weighed. Not quite sure about how refrigerated these meats were, but they did appear fresh.
Prices of things are such that if it’s an internationally recognized brand, expect the prices to be similar to home. Domestic brands that we are unfamiliar with are super-bargains. Shoes were going for about 180 bhat which equates to about $7.50 and there was great selection. Clothes were equally bargain priced.
We typically spend evenings planning the next day. Looking at maps, doing Google Street views, checking out hotels on Agoda.com and looking at weather. Temperature and sunshine don’t vary much. Pure sunshine every day, 35 or 36c. Still not a drop of rain has fallen since we arrived.