And we’re back on the road, literally. I think I will be done with buses forever when I return to England. The chaotic madness that is Mochit bus station, is thankfully, a memory I don’t have to think much more about now, and after a relatively decent bus journey from Roi-Et to Bangkok, we have landed safely in our hotel ready for action.
Ok, so that last bit is a little bit of a lie. After a taxi ride to the hotel I chose, conveniently located right by the railway station and MRT line, we collapsed onto the bed, put the air-con on, and debated how long we should nap for. We fell into this trap last time, and ended up losing days in the city, so eventually, we decided to pick ourselves up and make something of the day. We were too late for the train to the bridge over the river Kwai, and we suspected the Grand Palace would be busy at the weekend, so with this in mind, we decided on Ayutthaya.
Ayutthaya is the old capital city of Thailand, and is home to UNESCO sites, temple ruins, grand palaces, Buddhas, and impressive photo opportunities. I wanted to go there before we arrived in Thailand after seeing the Hairy Bikers cookery piece from one of the temples, and was pleased that is was going to cost just $1 to get there. Can’t argue with that. On a slight tangent, third class carriages on the train here are used mostly by locals, and have no air-conditioning. We’ve found that westerners are encouraged to use second class and the third class might not be good enough for them. It’s better than Northern Rail!
When we arrived at Ayutthaya, we realised our lack of research into the various temple sites was going to be a problem, so we accepted the offer of a tuk tuk tour of the best temples and sites in the city. Not only was the guy friendly, and up for us taking pictures in the drivers cab of his tuk tuk, but he knew his stuff about the place, could articulate this in English, and only took us to the best sites around, getting us back in good time for the return journey.
We saw lots of different temple structures, grand palaces, and Buddhas. The reclining Buddha appears to be a staple feature in many Thai towns and cities, but for me is less impressive than the standing Buddhas such as the one we climbed in Roi-Et. The temples were in various states of ruin, thanks largely to battles with the Burmese and the ever changing monsoon seasons here in Thailand. For me, the best site was at the final temple of the day, where the head of a Buddha had ended up in the roots of a tree after a fight with the Burmese many years ago. It is requested that you don’t stand above the Buddha’s head, so crouching and crawling are necessary to properly see it, and get a photo.
It’s strange how much architecture changes from temple to temple as different Kings ruled and different styles became in vogue. Some were very Angkor Wat in style, some much more pagoda like. We didn’t see everything there, but the temples we visited gave us an idea of the scale of the city. It’s much larger than I thought it would be, and a lot more impressive than I expected it would be. The Grand Palace has a lot to live up to, if we ever actually make it there!
The whole place was fascinating, but hot. Too hot. 37 degrees hot. Temples require appropriate dress; it was the last place I wanted to be in long sleeves and 3/4 length pants. I probably would have appreciated it more had it been cooler, but the place was so full of history and culture that I couldn’t help but enjoy it. I am sure it would have seemed much more impressive had I not seen the wonders of Angkor Wat too, but it was most definitely worth the trip: a must-see in Thailand!
Next up……The Bridge over the River Kwai. We are becoming cultured travellers!!