As nice as it was to be back in Bangkok, it was mostly just for being back at Born Free, and especially after being in Chiang Mai I didn’t much fancy spending the day in a big city. So I figured I’d go check out Ayutthaya instead.
The former capital of Siam, it was once a city full of ornate, grand temples until the Burmese burnt the whole place down. Now all that remains are their charred remains and it is a UNESCO world heritage site. It can be reached from Bangkok by train for only 15 baht 3rd class and takes around 2 hours, so I aimed to get on the road quite early. The previous evening Kevin had advised me which bus to take to the train station, but typical Bangkok busses they are not the most reliable. I have learnt that on the quieter routes you generally won’t have to pay, as it’s not worth their while to employ someone to take tickets – but it is equally not worth it for them to stop and let you on if they just don’t bloody feel like it. So after 2 busses passed me by without even slowing down, when a scooter taxi approached I figured I didn’t have many better options. After negotiating him down to 60 baht from 100, I hopped on.
Luckily when I arrived a train was leaving in 10 minutes, and getting my ticket was really easy. Two painfully slow hours later, we pulled in to Ayutthaya station, and after a quick 5 baht boat ride across the river into the main part of the city, I was finally there. I was having serious mango sticky rice cravings and also badly needed some caffeine, and there was a huge market as soon as I got off the boat for me to get my supplies for the morning.
My first Wat of the day was Wat Mahathat, best known for the Buddha head in the tree, and it was only about a 20 minute walk away. I’d heard it was best to rent a bike or scooter to get from temple to temple, but I thought I’d start off walking and see how I went. Admittedly they are a lot further apart than they look on a map, but equally there are only so many you can see in a day. As stunning as they are, they are also quite similar in many ways seeing as it is just their remains.
After Wat Mahathat I grabbed some cheap and delicious pad see ew for lunch and then walked through the park to the main temple, Wat Phra Si Sanphet, admiring many of the others along the way. From there I headed off of the island to Wat Chai Watthanaram down in the south west of the city. That was definitely quite a walk, and one that took me through some real local living.
After a look around there it was getting quite late in the afternoon and I was contemplating the best way to get back on to the island and basically to the complete opposite side of the city. I overheard a couple of guys speaking English and asked if they knew a quicker route back, and they said they could give me a ride back in the songthaew they had hired for the day – success! They let me out at their hotel in the middle of the city and from there it was a quick walk and the wee boat back to the train station, where I got my ticket – and was told there wasn’t another train for over 2 hours.
While I could have gone to see another temple, I was pretty much Wat-ed out at this point, so I went in search of somewhere for dinner and a drink instead. Most of the places around he station are quite touristy, yet still decently priced, and I had a surprisingly nice green Thai curry for only 60 baht.
The train journey back felt even longer than on the way there, not helped by the woman selling food who walked up and down our carriage shouting in the most annoyingly screechy voice the entire time. I then had a similar issue of getting a bus back to the hostel, and it took another age for to find the bloody bus stop and for one to actually arrive. This time I was taking no chances as I could see it wasn’t slowing down, so I pretty much planted myself in front of it in the middle of the road, and that seemed to do it!
All in all it was a good day and I’m so glad I went, but it was fairly tiring with the amount of travelling involved in the space of a day. If you have time it’s probably best to stay over night, or if you do it as a day trip check the return train times when you arrive!