Currently we are in the town of Mae Sot at Thailand's NW border with Burma/Myanmar having travelled here from Bangkok via Ayutthaya,a former capital of Thailand.
On alighting from the night train to Bangkok from Southern Thailand, we went straight to the Burmese Embassy and submitted our visa applications. It was a trouble-free process given the business acumen of some locals who had set up a mobile visa support service from a minivan right outside. We could even pick up the visa the same day (a recent change in the rules) which was convenient. Later that day we indulged in a bit of cinema ('Gone Girl') and Fran had a good session at an oesteopath to make amends for the less satisfactory chiropractic experience she had had when we first arrived in Bangkok.
The following day we took a public minibus 80kms north to Ayutthaya to spend three days viewing the temples and palace ruins dating from the 1400s when this was the capital of Siam for 400 years. It reminded us of the temples of Angkor in Cambodia, albeit not as old and spread over a much smaller area. We set out on rather cronky bikes each day and worked up a decent sweat by mid-afternoon! The humidity has dropped and we are enjoying rain-free days; so we shouldn't complain about the heart especially given the horrific snow pictures we're seeing in the US. Some of the ruins were spectacular and even those which weren't main sights were fascinating. We also seem to be increasing our chilli count which is good preparation for India post-Christmas.
From Ayutthaya we took the first night bus of the trip 450kms NW to Mae Sot. There were a couple of surprises en route. The first was being woken at 2.30am for a passport check which revealed that immigration made a mistake with our visa expiry date. After some discussion the policeman accepted that it wasn't our error so let's hope there is a similar enlightened attitude when we exit Thailand overland tomorrow. The second surprise was that we reached our destination,Mae Sot, at 4.30am not 7.30am. As it was still pitch black we whiled away a couple of hours pending dawn at the bus station being assailed by karaoke videos.
We finally got into town at 6am as the large market was setting up and the monks emerged in their bright saffron robes with their alms bowls to start their daily dawn perambulations around the streets. That this is a culturally diverse area can be seen in the faces and dress of the locals. Quite a few of the women and a few men daub something that ressembles yellow henna which has a 3 in 1 effect acting as sun screen, moisturiser and mosquito repellent. We were delighted to realise that some of the food here is influenced by indian cuisine. So for breakfast we had fresh roti which we dipped in condensed milk washed down with chai-type tea.
Our next stop is Myanmar, or as we still seem to call it in Europe, Burma.