Day 87, Saturday 31 March 31 2012, Ayutthaya.
I didn’t really sleep that much last night, though it was unfair to call the place a flea pit as I woke this morning with no bites on me anywhere ! I got up and had the first cold shower in weeks. One of the benefits of travelling with Mike was we generally stayed in slightly more up market guest houses (yet still cheap) than I normally did on my own and most had at least lukewarm showers.
After packing up my gear Giovanni and I went and met R and B for another final breakfast together. After saying goodbye to the three of them for the second time I headed off to the river for the boat down to the train. I enjoyed the few days I spent with G and R n B and hope to maybe see them in their home towns one day.
I had originally planned to go to Kanchanaburi, the home of the Bridge over the River Kwai, but was told there was not a lot to do there for the four days I have to kill before heading back to Bangkok for my early flight to Da Nang in Vietnam on the 4th. So I ended up deciding on Ayutthaya instead. Both towns are within a couple of hours of central Bangkok so no drama getting to either. I chose Ayutthaya as it was once the capital of Thailand and has a number of old temples to check out, and yes I still love old temples. Plus I have hardly used my camera in days and you must all be sick of blog posts that are not full of pictures. I may have to do some tests and see how many people actually read the words!
I caught a couple of trains to Victory Monument and then walked around in the brutal heat of 9.30 am looking for a mini-van that went to Ayutthaya, the vans are supposed to be only slightly more expensive than the bus, but get you there a whole lot quicker. As it turned out the mini-van was less than the guide book said at only 60baht for the ride, and it was new, air conned and we all had our own seats, it also only took 1 half hours to get there too – bonus start to the day. From the bus station I got seriously ripped off by a tuk-tuk driver in getting a lift to the hostel I chose off the internet – Prom Tong mansion. The tuk-tuks here are totally different to anyway else – still three wheels but that is about the only thing they have in common with others, this is a typical design, but an extravagant paint job.
I am going to have to say it lives up to its mansion name ! about $4 a more than the good hostel I use in Bangkok, but wow a world of difference, big room, the most comfortable bed I have slept on in weeks (if not months) , great breakie etc etc. My only complaint is the channels on the TV are rubbish – and no football ! I got used to nights in watching the beautiful game. The other thing I liked about it was the manageress took time to explain to me all the key sites in town, gave me a map and a guide book and recommendations on the best way to see them – without any suggestions of tours. I really appreciate it when hostels do this, and it was only the second time in three months.
It was mid-day, roasting hot – but not as humid as BKK, when i set off for a walk to the wats close to the guest house.
Ayutthaya is an island town built where three rivers – Mae Nam Lomburi, Chao Phraya (the main river in BKK) and Pa Sak, meet. Building of the capital city commenced in 1350 by King U-Thong and it was the centre of Thailand until being sacked and burnt by the Burmese in 1767. The current town has been built around the ruins. There are numerous sites all around and I have decided to break things up into 3-4 hour days and see the place over a few days, I like the hostel so no need to rush and it is damn hot outside !
At the first wat I had my first banana pancake of my travels, I have not consciously avoided them but banana pancake is also the name given to a type of traveller who follow a reasonably fixed route of party towns around SE Asia, anyway it was nice…
The wats here are not in the same condition as either Angkor or Bagan, and sadly due to the flooding last year close access to a number of the sites is not allowed. There is also minimal carvings or murals to be seen. Part of me agrees that these sites are ‘as found’ and not overly renovated, but I do really miss the carvings.
What I did love with all the things I have seen here is the unrepaired Buddha figures, though many parts have been put together to form vaguely recognisable figures, i found them exquisite and have many photos.
And the final Wat for the day
Tourists can take an elephant tour around the outside of the grand palace area, I didn’t do one as I do not agree with them in principle but I guess the elephants are probably better looked after than some working elephants in SE Asia.
I was pretty wrecked after almost four hours of walking, I foolishly decided to walk in jandals (flip flops to you readers not from NZ), instead of my usual sandals – my feet really did not appreciate the lack of padding and were quite sore by the time I got to lie down later in the day. After a shower I wandered down to the local market and had a meal and a beer and then stopped to buy an ice cream and some Smirnoff Ice RTD’s to take back to the room – a huge Saturday night in…
you will be pleased to know that there will be more temples tomorrow : )
My nephew Fraser is a great young musician and is the drummer in a two piece band, Heroes for Sale. He has an awesome record collection (mine) and a very good taste in music (just stay away from the dance music Frase, OK). His band played one of their first gigs a few days ago as part of the Titirangi Festival of Music and I so wished I could have been there to see them. Awesome stuff Fraser.
Not sure if the linky will work…