Ayutthaya Travel Blog› entry 3 of 4 › view all entries
May 10th, 2006 – by: sheena_marie
I got up rather early 'cause I'd decided the night before that I was going to go to Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya is the ancient capital of Siam (what is now known as Thailand). It was abandoned and the capital was moved to Bangkok.
I had to get to the Hualamphong (don't know how to pronounce that, Thai is quite a tongue twister of a language) and I wanted plenty of time to get there. I stopped off on my way and had Subway for breakfast (because I could) and then made my way to the train station.
It was rather bizarre for me. I got to the station and it was something I'd never expected to see in my life.People everywhere! There were people sitting on the floor waiting, people standing against walls, people sitting in seats, all of them just waiting patiently for their trains. To top it off there were monks EVERYWHERE. Sitting on seats meditating, sitting on seats and praying, walking around, you name it they were doing it.
It cost me 14Baht to get to Ayuttaha on a 3rd class train. It was this rickety old thing that you'd expect to see in a film set in the 1920s! There were wooden seats, the windows were these wooden pull down things, and there were fans attached to the roof blowing air. No air-con in this train and the day was bloody hot!
I attached myself to a couple of Chinese girls from Xiamen. They were overjoyed 'cause I tried to speak some Chinese to them (one of the girls spoke pretty good English and whenever she'd ask me a question she'd ask it slowly in Chinese first).
The trip was long (2 hours) and boring. I've discovered that heat and I (that sort of heat, you'd sit in the shade and it'd feel like your skin was burning) don't get along very well. I'd keep falling asleep. We changed trains once and the only difference between this one and the last one was that this one had slightly padded seats. By the time we got to Ayutthaya it was packed, standing room only. I was VERY glad that I'd got on at the start of the line.
Once we got to Ayutthaya I somehow lost the Chinese girls. They'd been accosted by a tuk-tuk driver I think and there was no way that I was going to catch a tuk-tuk for 50 to 60baht when i knew that there was a ferry for 3 baht.
The ferry was this loong old boat that had an outboard motor and a looooooong pole that had a rudder attached to it.You had to be careful when getting on the boat to make sure you didn't fall into the dirty water below. There were people swimming in there though, and I saw one lady washing her hair!
Once I got across the canal/river I headed for the nearest air conditioned shopping centre and had McDonald's for lunch. This gave me a chance to pull out my lonely planet and check exactly where I was without having a horde of tuk-tuk drivers descend on me and try and get me in their vehicle for a ridiculously overblown price... AND it got me into some air conditioning for a while. It was hot.
Food eaten and feeling infinitely cooler, I made my way to the first of the ruins. I don't know what I was expecting, but to see ruins just pop out of the middle of downtown was not what I was expecting, but it's what happened.
The first place I visited was Wat (temple in Thai) Ratcha Burana. It was one of the better preserved ruins. There was this long, thin stairwell going down into the heart of one of the towers that had a little virtually airless prayer room. I went down there. It was more of a ladder than a staircase, and so thin that I had to go down sidewards with a death grip on the railings 'cause the stairs were about half the width of my foot! It was worth it though to see it. these paintings were probably thousands of years old and still looked to be in pretty good condition.
After that I spent about ten minutes sitting on the steps into the tower just enjoying the breeze and watching these cars go past in bemusement (they were advertising something and there was Thai pop music blaring out of their loudspeakers.It was kind of jarring. You're sitting in this thousand of years old ruin that's sitting in the middle of suburbia and this is going past).
Because it was low season I pretty much had these ruins to myself. So I got to have a really good explore AND the piccy's I took were devoid of people, which in high tourist season probably wouldn't've been possible. Some of the pics I took have to be seen to be believed!
there were lots of headless Buddha statues. The reason they shifted the capital from Ayutthaya was because of an invasion by the Khmer. The invading force kinda went to town, the result was ruins and lots of blackened, headless statues. The temples are still in use though, There'd be offerings sitting in front of the statues (everything from flowers, to packets of chips and bottles of beer).
Next Wat on my trip was Maha That. It was in worse condition that Ratcha Burana, but more spectacular. There were more visitors there too for one reason. Wat MahaThat is home to the Buddha head surrounded by a tree. Nobody knows where the body's disappeared to, all that's left is the head and over the years a tree had grown about it.
I didn't spend that much time there 'cause I was starting to get really hot again and there were too many people at this place for my liking. I did get some amazing pictures though.
After I got out of there I bought myself a bottle of really cold water and sat in the shade drinking it. I left after I got annoyed by a little girl selling postcards... who was then joined by her sister trying to foist something else off on me.
By then I was ready to go home. there were still plenty of ruins to see, but I really just wanted to go home, have a shower and sit in air conditioning for a while. It was too hot really and I'd been in the sun for long enough that day. I'm not stupid, I didn't want to get heat stroke or anything like that.
I was lucky, as I was walking back to the train station I passed an air conditioned bus just about to depart for Bangkok. I dove on that and rode back to Bangkok in air conditioned comfort.
The adventure for the afternoon started when the bus stopped... I had absolutely no idea where I was. I was in the north-eastern bus station, that was all I knew. I wanted to get to the nearest sky train, but I didn't know where that was. No amount of looking at my maps was going to help me either.
I finally bit the bullet and got a taxi to the nearest sky train terminal. I stumbled my way back into the hostel at about 5:30pm and I was absolutely stuffed! On my way back to the hostel I stopped at a Watson's chemist and bought sunscreen and a bottle of aloe vera gel, I was rather sun burnt in places.
I went up to my room, dumped my stuff in there, and then sat in the bar for about an hour while I waited for my room to cool down (I had to stick the air con on. There was a shower in the room and I wasn't going to use it until the place had cooled down) I had a beer while I was waiting and watched soccer, of all things, 'cause that's what the British guys that were staying there were watching.
After I'd finished my beer I went up and had a shower. The place I was staying was Aussie run and had a restaurant downstairs... they had pies, so after the shower I went down to the restaurant and had pie, chips and gravy. It wasn't anywhere near as nice as what I can get back home, but it was better than what I can get here in China.
After that I trudged my way back up to the restaurant and just vegetated in the bar for a while until after 10pm (that's when the Internet became free for the first 20mins for people staying at the hostel). I was in bed by midnight. Before going to bed I decided that it was going to be my last night in Bangkok, I was going to head out to Kanchanaburi the next morning.That meant being on the first train (7:35am).
At about 12:30, just as I was about to go to sleep two girls came in and dumped their backpacks and headed back out again. I dozed back off and got woken up again at 3am when they came back in. I've decided I don't like dorm rooms.
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