A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I decided to go to Petchaburi. Petchaburi probably isn't the brightest jewel in Thailand's crown, but there was enough to see to make it an enjoyable weekend. We checked out a couple of caves that have been decorated with statues of Buddha and thoughtfully illuminated with extensive fluorescent lighting. We then headed back into town to see a turn-of-the-century palace that was built on a hill overlooking Petchaburi. This was definitely the highlight of Petchaburi. The palace actually consists of a series of buildings, temples and gardens all nestled into a densely forested hillside. The views and the buildings were quite beautiful and there was a quiet peace to the place that we revelled in after a few months living in the hubbub of Bangkok. We spent several hours happily wandering around and taking photos.
Most importantly, it was in Petchaburi that I realised that monkeys are evil little deranged humans. Monkeys have laid claim to not only the forested hillside where the palace is, but also to half of the streets in Petchaburi. They wander the streets, clamber about on shopfronts and telephone wires, cross at the pedestrian crossings, and, when they're in need of a little more excitement, they lunge menacingly at tourists. Admittedly, tourists who were unthinkingly walking out of a 7-eleven with a whole toblerone in hand. The quick-thinking Belinda threw a packet of chips at the monkey and he was startled enough to let us make a run for it up the street. I have watched enough episodes of 'House' to know the sorts of trouble that a monkey bite could get me into, so I was grateful that I came away from this little introduction to monkeys unscathed. The hospitals in Bangkok are absolutely first-rate, but what's the point of a monkey bite if Hugh Laurie isn't going to be there to diagnose you?
Disregarding Julie Andrews' sage advice, I'm going to start somewhere between the beginning and the middle simply because that's where I am right now. I've been in Bangkok for three months, which, alarmingly enough, makes me about ¼ of the way through my time here. I can say that quite authoritatively, because I've just had to go through the trauma of extending my visa for another 90 days. Next time, I'm going to avoid the good folk at the immigration department and just use it as an excuse to pop over the border and visit another country.