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Ayutthaya: The Ancient Capital

October 9, 2010


Laura’s and my trip was a long time coming. When looking to teach, Thailand was high on the list, but certification was cheaper and there was guaranteed placement in China. For last year’s National Holiday (beginning of October), we’d considered it as a travel destination, but were intimidated by rainy season, so chose Korea instead. For Spring Festival (mid-February) a few people in the office seemed interested in a trip to Thailand, but plans fell through and Laura and I went to Hainan instead. Things seemed so certain for awhile in this last instance that I’d put together a Google doc of some research I was inspired to do one day. I’m pretty sure neither I nor anyone else ever looked at this document again, but one of the things that always stuck with me was Ayutthaya, Thailand’s old capital.

When we learned at our hostel in Bangkok that it was only a two-hour, 15 baht (50 cent) train ride away, we decided there was no reason not to make a day trip out of it. The train ride wasn’t the most pleasant experience (stopped a million times/increasingly crowed with each stop/fairly hot/”worse than a K train,” as Laura said, for anyone who’s had the experience of a Chinese K train [which isn’t actually that bad]), but when you’re paying 50 cents I suppose there’s only so much room for complaint.

Two hours later we rolled into the Ayutthaya station, met first by a battalion of black-clad police officers outside the station, and then by a cheering group of red-clad people inside the station. It took a minute to put two-and-two together, but we finally realized that there must be red-shirt demontrations going on in town that day. Thankfully there just seemed to be a little parade at the end of the day and none of the violence or terror caused by their spring-time counterparts in Bangkok, and as Laura mentioned, with so many police out and about (they were everywhere) it was actually a great day to be a tourist since one would assume the pickpockets would be on their best behavior. Then we got robbed blind. Jokes!

We knew there were bikes to be rented and were excited to be able to explore on our own without having to rely on tuk-tuks or taxis. And when we asked a tuk-tuk driver where we might rent bikes, and he told us that there were none– they’d all been rented out, we were just a little incredulous. We’ve learned to not believe, well, anything that just about anyone says when they provide unfavorable information that could benefit them. (The day before, for instance, on the way to the Grand Palace, a man tried to convince us that it was a Thai holiday; that foreigners weren’t allowed in the Grand Palace, and that we should instead try to check out some other site. Lies!) But then at each bike rental place we came upon, we found that they all had indeed been rented out!

We searched for a bit until we were approached by a tuk-tuk driver who assured us he knew where a bike rental place was. We in turn assured him we wouldn’t pay if this wasn’t true, but he made good on his word and got his 20 baht. We got two of the ricketiest, poorly-aligned, hard to pedal bikes I’ve ever been on (made me miss Boan!) but they got the job done. We saw one ancient temple (Wat Mahathat), another newer temple that housed the largest bronze Buddha in Thailand, and the ruins of the old palace, from where the royal family fled in the 1800’s to Bangkok due to pressure from Burmese forces. This last one was cool because, though it had been reduced to exposed brick over time, some of the structures still bore semblances to the Grand Palace that took its place in Bangkok that we’d visited the day before.

the alternate, had we not found bikes
temple with the bronze buddha
the largest bronze buddha in thailand

yeah, i was probably supposed to buy one of those now, eh?
the three chedi of the ancient palace


redshirt parade
Laura then made off for Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand that night, and the next day I was off to Kathmandu. Wayne successfully met me there a few days later, and now we’re in Pokhara– a “nearby” town that I was surprised to find out was actually a 6-8 hour bus ride away, and then that became a 10-and-a-half hour bus ride. But that’s a story for later… my computer’s completely kaput now, which is too bad because I had videos there of the Muay Thai fight and almost getting attacked by monkeys at Kathmandus Monkey Temple that I’ve deleted from my camera, so I suppose will never again see the light of day. But I’ve got some mini-trekking/lake wandering/possible paragliding to do, so ta ta for now.
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3 Comments leave one →
  1. James Henry permalink
    November 6, 2010 2:58 am

    Angela; I enjoy reading your posts and all great pictures, so cool that you’re sharing this with everyone. Marcia and I like to watch the Globe Trekker (http://www.pilotguides.com/tv_shows/globe_trekker/travelers/index.php), your travels remind us of this TV show. We were thinking that you should contact them to see if they want to hire you for one of their episodes.

    Take care,
    Love uncle James

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