Dodging a guesthouse with a monkey, meeting Marjorie on the way to Lampang, and Jim gets excited by his latest weird food.

Day 164: Sukhothai & Lampang, Thailand. This morning we packed up again, this time to head to Lampang for a couple of days on our way north to Chiang Mai.

By the time we reach Chiang Mai, the Yoy Krathong and Yi Peng festivals will be in full swing, so we thought we’d better take a look online before we left Sukhothai and book some accommodation, before it all gets snapped up.

Researching accommodation takes a decent chunk of time. On the surface, lots of guesthouse options seem pretty good; however once you read the reviews, they can tell a different story. We had a good giggle at one set of reviews for a guesthouse near the old town in Chiang Mai, where apparently the owner keeps a pack of 9 smelly dogs, a parrot and – get this – a marmoset monkey. Reviews tell tales of guests arriving to a heavy stench and having to leave again straight away, holding their noses while they check right back out again. Good to dodge that one.

After we’d finished our accommodation search, we left our current guesthouse (which was a good find and thankfully monkey-free) and walked down to the bus station, to perch for a bit on the rows of blue hard plastic seats.

The bus arrived late, as is often the case, and was two thirds full, having started its journey in Sukhothai new town. The luggage store underneath the bus was already jammed with backpacks and suitcases and prams. The driver did an impressive job of rearranging everyone’s bags, with a lit ciggie hanging out of his mouth the entire time.

With bags safely stashed, we clambered on to the bus and luckily found a couple of seats together. Despite being the same bus company that took us from Phitsanulok to Sukhothai a couple of days ago, this bus was a heap more comfortable – more leg room, better seats and the air con even worked. There was some great scenery along the way too.

We stopped for a quick coffee break at a small cute cafe about an hour outside Lampang. Excellent coffee and a lovely little garden with wooden benches. An English lady called Marjorie came over to chat to us for a bit. She told us she’s recently retired, and has been travelling on her own around Asia for nearly 7 months, and is loving it. She said this is her life now, but she’ll ‘pop back home to see people in England now and then, like at Christmas time’. She is also staying in Lampang for a couple of days, so we may well bump into her again.

We arrived in Lampang late afternoon and walked to our guesthouse, an easy 10 minute trot from the bus station. We settled in then wandered out to take a look around the town, stopping for a quick beer at a local cafe, then heading on to check out one of the three local night markets. The town has a population of around 56,000, so it’s not huge, but it appears to be a very lively place with lots going on.

The market was fabulous, with stalls stretched across a large indoor area, selling all sorts of fresh produce and spices, plus some clothes. We took the opportunity to buy lots of fresh fruit – jack fruit, bananas and papaya – plus some edamame (soy beans cooked in their pods), and a piece of cake that turned out to be a slightly odd tasting (but still delicious) custardy slice.

Jim was super excited to spot that one of the stalls had a large platter of bee larvae honeycomb (honeycomb with bee larvae inside). It’s one of the delicacies he missed out on in Luang Prabang in Laos. He gleefully bought a big piece of the stuff, with Lil wrinkling her nose beside him, and making loud ewww noises. Insects are a staple in many Asian diets, and apparently bee larvae packs a particularly strong punch of protein and flavor. Lil says she’ll stick with chicken thanks.

We had dinner at a small eatery close to the market – sensational pad thai wrapped in egg, that was freshly cooked in the open air kitchen next to us.

When we got back to our guesthouse, Jim unwrapped his bee larvae honeycomb, and was keen to start scoffing it before he headed to bed. Lil suggested he leave it until tomorrow, just in case any emergency services are needed (she’s still not convinced that eating bees is a good thing). Some close-up pics of larvae to follow in tomorrow’s blog post.

Tomorrow we’ll take a longer walk around the town, including a couple of wats and another night market. And doubtless Jim will find something else weird and wonderful to eat (after he’s scoffed his bee larvae, hopefully with no ill effects).

More then.

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