NapPark Hostel and The Meeting of the TEN!
I have always loved staying in hostels and backpackers, you never know who you are going to meet or what you are going to see….
For example sitting behind the rather see through privacy screen on my lower bunk, a new traveler arrived and obviously or hopefully assumed he was alone. He stripped off to his boxers, then instead of facing the wall to be sure of privacy, he turned towards his bunk (leaving his lower half visible to me) and proceeded to reach in, pull out and give things a good jiggle… I wasn’t sure if I should cough, state “welcome to the mixed dorm” or just sit there silently… instead I tried to type louder but only when I zipped up my computer did I notice pants were replaced rather quickly… ahh yes you have got to love hostel life!
I stayed at NapPark hostel when I first arrived. The pics on the webpage are a little misleading, but the staff are friendly and always answer emails the same day. It is small but clean and comfortable and the lobby area is great to meet new people. On this time round I ended up meeting people from all over and on the first night we all went out to dinner, 11 of us in total.
I had been debating whether or not to fly to Laos or take the 2 day journey of train and bus. A turning point came when I asked the group if anyone would be interested in visiting Ayuthaya, the old capital of Siam, with me, I got a few yes’s so decided to fly (which turned out to be a brilliant decision).
All the information I had found, from the internet, to guide books, to the hostel staff was as follows: Take the train (it runs every 20min), 20baht for a normal ticket around 130baht for aircon, the trip takes about an hour, then you are there.
So at 8am in the morning I was surprised to see 9 others show up, we ended up grabbing breakfast at the hostel cafe, the single cafe lady received a round of applause when she finished the last dish as she was truly fantastic. Then we were off to find taxis to the train station. Our adventure unfolded thusly:
A lot of the taxis wanted to charge 200baht to go to the train station, but it is important to insist on meters, some even offered to take us for the whole day 1500baht for 4 people per taxi. But we decided to stick to our plan and go with the info given.
The ride to the train station cost 71baht, another reminder to always use meters in the taxis. Then we headed to the ticket counter. The station has information clerks who speak english to help you find the right option. As it turned out the train did not go every 20min, rather ever hour and a half, the trip did not take 1hour, but rather 2hours, and the price for the aircon was 300baht not 130baht…. Well that sucked! We would either have to take the standing only local train for 15baht in 20min, or wait almost 2hrs for the aircon train. Since some of us had night trains in the evenings this wasn’t an option. Also once you got there the temples weren’t all in the same place so you would either have to rent a bike or a taxi anyway…
Rethinking the Plan
We stared at each other for a few minutes, Gina and I went even asked at the counter to make sure these ladies were telling us the correct info, they were. Then we decided to do what we should have done in the beginning find a taxi or van. The info ladies saw our decision and took us upto a tour service. In the end we bargained down to 450baht per person for an air-conditioned minivan and guide. Once again a brilliant decision was made. By minivan it is only an hour and since the temples are not all in one place the guide would drive us round from temple to temple. Most of the temples are free but a few of the best ones are between 20baht and 50baht to enter.
Well Worth the Effort
It turned out the whole trip was well worth the effort and the temples were amazing and the aircon in the van was a godsend, as it was hot as hell.
The second Temple we went to had something I have seen in books and postcards all over the world, the Buddha head surrounded by the roots of the banyon tree, it was stunning.