I spent a lovely sunny weekend in the old capital Ayutthaya with Masha (not a typo, there's no 'r' in her name), a lovely bubbly girl from my orientation. Went into BKK to meet her there as I had to sort out buses down to Koh Chang, which I accepted is impossible to do over the phone. Rushed around like a crazy lady trying to make it to the train station for the 11.40 train to Ayutthaya, got there at about 11.35 and found out she'd booked us onto the 1pm one. Ah well, good exercise darting through the skyline and subway to get there at least. Gave us a chance to start catching up. It was a long old journey, about 2 hours or so on sticky plasticy benches (comfort not really an option when you're paying 30p a ticket!) Was interesting watching the scenery change as we left BKK, and quite a contrast seeing towering skyscrapers over corregated iron shacks.
Arrived at our guesthouse around 3ish and were told there was a boat tour around the island (the old central part of the city's surrounded by water, it's not literally an island) leaving at 4pm, which just about gave us enough time to get to our room and have a refreshing homemade fresh mango slushy thick juice concoction. About 12 of us were piled onto the back or a truck, no seats so just perching on the side, and then crammed into a little long boat. Being squished is all part of the Thai experience. Met a nice Dutch girl called Sarah, seeing a pattern forming... went to Ayutthaya with a Dutchie last time too. It was nice boating around and very peaceful. We went to three temple-ruins, although I thought it was a bit cheeky that the guesthouse failed to inform us about the entry fee to each ruin after we'd already paid them 200b. Luckily I whipped out the old Ajarn ID again and got in free, whoop! We sat among some truly stunning old ruins on the river to watch the sunset, it was very serene. They dropped us back at a market which was apparently near the guesthouse, but we got distracted by the amazing food stalls and hunger setting in having only snacked on the train, so didn't ask which direction we had to walk in. Getting lost is also all part of the Thai experience.
It was the World Heritage Fair in Ayutthaya that weekend and using my trusty map-reading skills, laser lights illuminating the sky, and sporadic fireworks, we found our way to where it was all taking place. There was a light and sound show which was full so we didn't make it in, but enjoyed wandering around the little huts and stalls all with different elements of Thai culture on display... fruit carving, elephants, and the like. Didn't head back too late as were planning an early start of biking. Enjoyed toast and omlette for brekkie Sunday morning although it paled in comparison to Greenleaf's at Khao Yai. It was posing as a cheese omelette but I was disappointed to discover there was just a dairylea slice half-melted in the middle.
Me, Masha and Sarah hired bikes from the guesthouse for 50b for the day (a quid), then she took us to collect them at the end of the road where there was a big sign saying they were 30b. Took a bit of time to get the hang of it having not cycled for about a decade, felt a bit wobbly at first and was a bit scared by the crazy Thai traffic but didn't take long too get the hang of it again. But I think the phrase 'it's like riding a bike' didn't quite fit with poor Masha too well and it took her a while to get the hang of it, actually I'm not sure she even did bless her. For a 32 year old who's lived in New York I assumed she's be used to traffic and busy streets, which is why the bikes was my suggestion... but she has a slightly amusing distinct inability to cross roads, on bike or on foot. In Thailand with four lanes of traffic there's no chance in hell of waiting three foot from the edge of the curb until all the lanes are clear to cross. I think she's had a bad experience crossing roads or riding before, understandable in New York I guess. I didn't mind and found it quite funny, though bordering on the ridiculous when she'd get off the bike to cross over a junction or go around an obstacle. Don't think she was overly keen on the whole biking experience, but she was a good sport about it all.
Bike is a great and obscenely cheap mode of transport to get around though, and we were out and about for a good 7 hours or so, deffo got our money's worth. Saw lots of amazing old ruins, and managed to get in free to a fair few of them, and stopped by a stinky river and had superb Pad Thai, though I'm pretty sure they made it with spaghetti and not noodles, so a bit of an alternative version. The least touristy ruins were my fave, especially where we ended up at sunset which was very peaceful. Won't bore you with all the names of the places we went, but you'll be able to see them along with the photos from the weekend. Obviously I didn't remember them all by heart, I had to refer back to my much-crumpled map.
Got back to the train station shortly after 7pm, booked my 9b ticket home, and the train arrived within the minute and once back in Saraburi got some grub at the night market, then enjoyed soaking in the cold shower and rested my achey weary cycled-out limbs. Was a lovely weekend, and one thing I've noticed on my travels that but Americans tend to need lots of toilet/soda/coffee/ice-cream breaks when out and about.
Ended up back in Ayutthaya on the Monday to sort out visas. When we arrived we were told to go back in an hour, so found a nice restaruant along the river to eat lunch. It was relaxing soaking up the surroundings and watching the locals out fishing. Got back to the Visa office and had the most laid-back/slowest man in the world sorting out our working visa extensions, he did actually go and make a coffee and sit eating doughnuts mid-meeting. At least I had no lessons that day, bonus.