Brief update today — slow Internet in the heat of the midday while Catherine and Oliver are out at the playground. We are here in Phitsanulok, a small town halfway between Chiang Mai in the north and Bangkok in the south. We arrived yesterday by train, a pleasant journey save a minor freakout by Oliver at the crossover point from mountains to rice paddies.

We’re staying in a hotel of faded luxury — perhaps once the best hotel in town but now, alas, good mostly for its location, 1 block from the train station. But we have a TV, so I can keep up to date on my new addiction to the nightly soap opera that airs on Channel 7 just after supper.

This morning we visited the famous folk museum, which has an interesting collection of older Thai artifacts, and which bears a striking resemblance to the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit for its attempt to catalogue “everyday life” though record players, musical intstruments, household appliances and the like. Acrossthe road, run by the same retired army officer, is a bronze casting plant, also an interesting visit. Only once our visiting was done did we realize that we’d not provided for a ride back into town, about 2km up the road. We were saved by a pedal rickshaw driver who pedalled all 400-odd pounds of us back to the centre of town for 40 baht (about $1.50). Catherine is sure we took years off his life.

For lunch today we visited the restaurant of the competing faded luxury hotel in town, the Pailyn. Their operation is somewhat less faded, and the food was very good. Oliver, as per usual, was swept away from us and entertained by about 15 waitresses, cooks, barmen and concierges. He got a tour of the kitchen and of the entire back office, and cried and cried and cried when we had to leave.

This afternoon we’re off to the local temple, reputed to have the most significant images in all of Thailand. Tomorrow it’s back to Bangkok. More later.