September 2nd, 2009 – by: sarahelaine
Buddha in the trees
The first full day in Asia, we decided to take the train up to Ayutthaya, the historic capital of Thailand, and have a look around. We got up very early and found a cab that was willing to use the meter. As a tip, this seems to be a real issue outside the hotels, but the minute you are out on the main road they start being much more reasonable about it.
Bangkok station was much smaller than I had imagined, and we found our way to the third class area of the train to Ayyutthaya. These are technically standing tickets, but we were lucky to find a seat. I suppose it must have been obvious where we wanted to go, because a friendly guard came to tell us what stop we got off at.
I wish we had that sort of service at home. The train journey was really nice, and I had my usual fun staring out the window at things we don’t have at home, like noodle soup shops within touching distance of the train.
Ayyutthaya station is like something out of a Merchant Ivory film, all dark wood and period detail. I was half expecting Helena Bonham Carter to come off the train with us. We found a left luggage and set off to find the wats.
The first little adventure was the ferry, which ran out of gas half way across the river and needed towed by the other ferry. The ferry terminal had cool little dragons and a monk takes your toll.
After that, we walked to the temples and were enthusiastically pursued by tuktuk drivers.
It was very hard to persuade them that we wanted to walk. The wats were very nice, and the Buddha head in the tree roots was strange and atmospheric. I was fascinated with the way that some of the large, intact buddhas were still worshipped, and some weren’t – I’m not sure how you’d go about choosing. There is also a modern temple with what is apparently Thailand’s largest seated Buddha in it. I don’t know what the etiquette for taking photos inside working wats is, so I contented myself with grabbing a quick fuzzy shot from outside. If someone wants to tell me what the rules are I’ll be happy to follow them next time!
All in all, I had a nice time. But the heat was new and starting to get to both of us, so we only stayed until about 2pm. Catching the train back was the first time I had ever had to get on a train with no platform, a procedure that involves throwing your bag up and taking a bit of a running jump, especially when you are as little as me.
How the little old ladies manage is beyond me.
view from the train
When we got back, it was gone three in the afternoon and too late to do much in Bangkok. Iain went for yet another nap, and I contented myself with swimming around in the rooftop pool. The pool at the hotel was very nice, and I enjoyed just relaxing – this is unusual for me, as normally I ma mad keen to get going and do things. I promise next time I go to Bangkok I will make a bigger effort to see more…
For dinner we went to the Indian restaurant on the corner near our hotel, and it was lovely.
Ayutthaya Sights & Attractions review
Ayutthaya Historical Park
Ayutthaya is the historical capital of Thailand, and has a large number of interesting ruined temples and palaces. They were ruined in the course of … read entire review