Ayutthaya The Ancient Siam Capital 26/03/2012 - 29/03/2012
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Thailand
We were up pretty early to catch the train to Ayutthaya. Originally we planned to catch the 11:20am train and we thought it would be best to allow at least an hour to get to the station (traffic is manic) and sort tickets etc. 10:20 came and we were still fannying about not sure why as bags were packed the night before and we were up at a decent hour. The lady downstairs told us the Kodak shop did visa photos which we desperately needed as we both forgot about bringing any when packing. This was a perfect opportunity to get these done now as knowing our luck no where else will do them. We could catch a later train of 12:55 so less chance of stressing. Fair play I hated my photo (Zara). I looked absolutely awful which put me in a really bad mood! I decided at that point I had been drinking far too many Changs and Tiger beers...talk about bloater! Note to self stop drinking beer! That's the problem in this country, just because the food an beer are cheap does not mean I have to eat and drink more of it.If I carry on I'll be needing a double seat on our next forms of transport! Dai on the other hand was ok and will carry on drinking cheap beer :) However it's quite likely I may find an alternative drink!
We headed for the train station and managed to pay for our tickets to head north from Lop Buri (our next destination) to Chang Mai we were catching the sleeping train which we have heard is a great way to travel north. We just managed to book the train we wanted, well not the exact train we wanted but the one 2 hours later costing us around £10 each because all the tickets were booked up. The train ticket from Bangkok to Ayutthaya cost us about 30p each which is absolutely crazy if you think of the cost of trains back home. We waited at the platform, the train which was a little late but arrived and we boarded a third class coach which was ok until about 3 stops in and the bloody thing was rammed. Leaving bangkok put a lot of things into perspective for us. As we travelled through the shantly hut towns where the locals live you realise just how poor the poor are in Bangkok and it's no wonder why they try to rip of as many tourist as they can, well the ones with tuk tuk and taxis do anyways. It was so sad seeing how they live, don't get us wrong they looked happy enough but it was a definite eye opener as to how lucky we are to have what we have. We didn't take any photos, we felt it a bit rude especially as we were surrounded by the people who may live in or know someone who lives in these areas. The train ride was ok it did get slightly annoying with the poeple walking up the narrowest of aisles with buckets of water bottles and food shouting out in Thai asking if you wanted any. This was especially tedious when we were trying to get off with our backpacks and they still kept on trying to come past you, it's as if they own the aisles anyone in their way is dead well not exactly but you know what we mean. We got off the train and got to our hotel which was just amazing by far the best place weve stayed in. There seemed to be a fair few mozzies about so we tested out our net and went out for a quick bite to eat and sorted out this blogg for all the other places weve been.
Bike riding around piles of stones... that's what our plan was. We got up early and rented 2 bikes for a pound each, not your usual mountain bikes we are used to back at home. These where chinese style bikes with the thin wheels and hardly any brakes which were a bit wobbly. Zara crashed into the back of me a fair few times and should couldn't reach the floor either when she stopped which was pretty entertaining. We did a bit of exploring the night before looking for somewhere to eat so we kinda knew where we were going and headed straight for the ruins. If you don't already know, which to be honest most won't because why would you. Ayutthaya is the ancient Siamese capital and was so for around 200 years until the Burmese sacked the city in 1767 so the place is pretty old and has a lot of history. We headed for the main attraction which was the ruins of the old palace and Wat Phra Mongkhon Bophit which house a huge sitting buddha the biggest bronze one in Thailand. We slipped into the old palace via the side gate not realising that you had to pay to get in until we asked 2 girls where they got there audio commentary from. The ruins were pretty amazing I bet this place would have been absolutely buzzing back in the day in the 1700s. About 15 minutes in we realised that we forgot to charge the camera (doh) so had to go back to the guest house all of 10 mins on the bike to re charge. We headed back to the same place but couldnt go back in the side gate as a guard told us to go and pay, we'd already made it round the whole ruins earlier so we went to see the sitting buddha expecting to pay for that and the palace but the sitting buddha was free... result we'd saved ourselves £2 lol. We then rode round a few more sets of ruins before deciding we needed a break as we were templed out which is pretty easy in Thailand. We found a nice spot in the sun and chilled (ah this is the life) it was about 38 degrees so it was bloody hot. We had 2 more temples left, one with a buddhas head at ground level that was left from a ruin and a tree grew round it that was a sight to see. The other was probably the best reserved one which you could climb inside and go to a tomb at the bottom. Zara didnt make it down as it looked pretty dodgy and steep so I headed down on my own at the bottom I thought it was just a concrete block but you had to climb into a little room which was pretty weird being on ur own, I'm guessing the paintings were there from the 1700 so it was pretty cool it was still there. After that we headed home for a recharge and then went back at night to take some pics. Being there at night on our own was pretty spooky but we managed to get some good pics. As the sun set the Thai people go into the local park to do zumba or what looked like it, that was pretty cool... we'll have to join in with them next time. All in all we appreciate Ayutthaya to everywhere else we've been so far as it's much more chilled out from the hustle and bussel of Bangkok and the people are much more friendly.
We started off the day with a good breakfast and once again took to our bikes. We had seen a boat trip to sail down the river and around the City stopping at temples on the way advertised for only 150b the pervious evening, so we went to see what the deal was. The boat was leaving at 4pm so we both booked ourselves on it. This was the cheapest one we had seen. We wanted to visit the national museum so after some map reading we worked out the direction we needed to go around the city. It didn't look far, we thought about a 10minute ride! After 20minutes we were still riding in the 40 degree heat! We thought our best option was to ask a tuk tuk driver he's bound to know the way! Oh yes he did know the way but he gave us the long route round. By the time we reached the museum we were both absolutely dripping with sweat and losing the will to live! 100b each we thought this better be bloody worth it. Overall the museum was ok, quite informative of the previous Kings and the history of Ayutthaya. We spent a good hour and a half strolling around the grounds and the different buildings. We was NOT looking forward to the bike home (half tempted to get a tuk tuk and put the bikes on the back) we trooped on and mounted our bikes ready for the gruelling ride home. Whilst looking from a tower building in the museum we were trying to figure out a quicker route. We thought we found one so we gave it a shot. We went down this side lane and ended up on the main road. It took us 10 minutes in total to reach our guest house Dai said this was Karma coming back to bite him in the arse for all the times he'd shown foreigners back home the wrong way to go.
Later in the evening we met two solo travelllers both from Germany who were on our boat trip and both absolutely lovely. Mike and Maggie had a few stories to tell and were great company. We went to the night market with them afterwards and then for a few drinks. We tried some lush market stall food although we haven't made it on the bugs yet...it will happen! All in all we had a great evening.