Hurrah! We made it! Turns out we could buy a ticket for Ayutthaya at the station, so after filling up at a 7 11 store (beautifully air conditioned, these supermarkets have been our saviour in Thailand) we settled in to rather plush, fully recline-able seats and relaxed knowing that the unplanned detour should work out fine. That was until after five hours the conductor told us we'd reached our stop, so we clambered out with our bags, only realising just as the doors closed behind us that we'd actually been thrown off the bus on the side of a motorway... After a few moments wondering what the hell we were supposed to do as our guide book claimed we would be dropped off at a large bus station, we heaved our backpacks in the sweltering heat across the footbridge to a giant Tesco (yep, they have them here in Thailand!) keeping our fingers crossed that there may be a taxi hanging around there. Indeed there was, but he could clearly see we had no idea where we were, so no matter how much we forced big smiles we had no choice but to pay through the nose for the fare…
After that little blip, we arrived at another guesthouse called Grandparent's Home. Sadly it wasn't as welcoming, but it was fairly clean (if you excuse the lizards and cockroaches) and the restaurant was super Thai-tasty. With not too much time to spend here, we didn't hang around, and booked straight on to a sunset boat ride, which stopped at some of the main temples. Unlike Sukhothai, where all the ruins are inside an enclosed historical park, the ruins of Ayutthaya - which became the next Thai capital after Sukhothai was destroyed by the Burmese - are scattered around a living city so we were at the mercy of our limited navigation skills in order to find them all… The boat trip helped though and as the sun was going down, the heat was bearable.
Next day we hired bicycles from our guest house for about £1 to quickly visit the remaining temple sites. Luckily the bikes were a little lighter and easier to ride, as this time we had to cycle on the main roads together with the cars, buses, and tuk tuks… After about 40 minutes of following Bret into some strange, barely visited part of town, Nat decided to take over with the navigating and realised he'd had the map upside down the whole time… Hrmmm…
Eventually we found the main sites, including the Grand Palace, and with sweat pouring off us, and covered in mud and dust, we ran inside to hide under a tree for some shade before exploring.
The most famous of the Ayutthaya temples have been restored so it's easy to see how incredible they looked in their prime. At one we didn't actually realise that it was ancient until we saw a photo of how it used to be. Other temples are still fully functioning temples so we enjoyed watching various ceremonies taking place.
Next stop was to see the elephants, which hang around taking tourists on very expensive rides through the relics.. We decided not to pay to take a ride, and instead enjoyed an ice cream while we sat and watched some of the baby elephants messing around and stealing fruit.
Back at Grandparent's Home we had some of our new favourite dish for lunch, which is pad thai (noodles)- and now we're back on board a two-hour bus to Bangkok; hoping the city doesn't swallow us up for breakfast as everyone keeps telling us it will...