Greetings from Ayutthaya Thailand,
A 09:00 bus out of the northern bus terminal in Bangkok got me into the center of commercial activity in Ayutthaya. Uncertain which way to walk I began asking the tuk-tuk drivers orbiting around this new source of wealth. All wanted to help me with a ride in their three wheelers and showed visible disappointment when I made it clear my legs were made for walking! With several responses to my questions about the location of the Kungsri River Hotel generally pointing in the same direction, off I walked... heavy pack adding more unwelcome stress on my tender, blister prone feet. Added goodies this trip makes my pack weigh 26-28 pounds, up 6-8 pounds from previous trips.
The great hotel I remember from my last short visit to this place eleven years ago definitely would be on the bank of the river that wraps around the island-like loop in the river, but it is a long river. Not until I practically stumbled over the curb around the property did I recognize I'd again found the place. My previous visit to Ayutthaya Thailand in January 2003 is discussed in this postcard, but old memories have a way of playing tricks on the mind. Inside at the reception desk I attempted to build on those faulty memories as I started the negotiation process. The young staff, of course had no idea to what I referred as I stammered my request for another room high up with an excellent view of the river traffic. All the same, they managed to put me in a great room with another perfect view of the boat/barge filled flowing waters.
As I needed to be back in Bangkok in seven days to meet my friend from home who had persuaded me to let her join me for a portion of this adventure, I'd planned to do more of the things I'd not had time to do eleven years ago. So, I walked and I walked... to places missed in the earlier visit. Out to the floating markets to the east of the hotel (and nearby train station) to see more ruins and watch one of the elephant ride operations I went.
Then, for the next couple days I just wandered at random exploring some of the places which looked interesting on the map around the centrally located Rama Public Park where the principle archeological sites are located. On the fourth day I walked 24,000 steps (that's a lot!) before deciding it was time to stop for lunch and something cold to drink. I'd seen the KFC restaurant in the main commercial cluster on an earlier walk, but for some reason had a hard time finding it again.
After multiple queries of locals I finally found it and entered desperate for hydration. Two pieces of chicken and one extra large Pepsi later I again felt like a human being. On the way out I spotted the soft cone machine and paused to debate the advisability of one more treat after the perfect meal. Two girls ahead of me ordered the chocolate Sunday and I felt all my resistance fade away. Twice the amount of ice-cream as the cone plus all that gooey chocolate syrup, I thought, "What the heck; you only live once," and ordered one to top off my chicken meal. Over to a table by the window for some more people watching while scarfing down the creamy treat I went... taking my time devouring the big glob of frozen cream.
It tasted so good I just sat there after the final bite. Then, I thought: "I haven't enjoyed one of these so much for a very long time" ... and decided to get another! As I finished the last few bites of the rich smoothness, I felt what I presumed must be punishment indigestion for over eating, but figured the long walk back to the hotel should give it enough time work its way down my gut before I got there. Quite the contrary, the pain right in the middle of my belly continued to get worse! I have a very high pain threshold, but this discomfort threatened to breach that threshold.
Back at the hotel I remembered my last physical examination finding of gall stones and wondered if one of the little buggers had decided to start working its way down the one of the narrow ducts and had gotten caught in the middle. On to the Internet I went for some serious and urgent research. Yep, the symptoms definitely matched those for a gall bladder attack! Further, there was a warning that pains lasting more than nine hours suggested something serious, so I decided to cut my Ayutthaya adventure short and head back to Bangkok where I could be sure to get excellent treatment at the Bumrungrad Hospital.
By the time I finally reached the gastroenterology department in Bangkok the pain had been troubling me for forty hours! The doctor ordered an immediate ultrasonic scan of the upper abdomen and a series of blood tests. A couple hours later, he confirmed I had had a gall bladder attack and that the indicated standard treatment would be the complete removal of the gall bladder! ... but not before we treated the discovered infection. First, I would take a twelve day course of Ciprofloxacin to knock out the immediate cause of my distress... and then sometime after the passage of about four weeks the surgery should be performed.
Well, believe it or not, that was GOOD news as now I could continue with my complex plans to spend the next two weeks with my friend scheduled to arrive in a couple days, but with plans on hold awaiting news of my medical situation. Revealing my thinking to the doctor, he concurred, but cautioned me to be very careful of consuming fats in the interim. That has turned out to be a difficult caution to heed! Back at the Sukosol Hotel I typed an urgent message to my friend that the crises had been dealt with and she should resume her plans to join me... unless she had already made alternate arrangements because of my earlier message. She hadn't and shot back her response: "Good news! I'm on my way."
Sorry stories of intriguing Ayutthaya must be so thin, but our bodies have a way of making some decisions for us... especially during the twilight years.
Fred L Bellomy