As we only had two days in Bangkok we had decided in advance what we wanted to do. With everything ticked off our list for Day 1, we wanted to visit Ayutthaya, the original capital of Siam, which is now in ruins. Between 1350 and 1767, Ayutthaya had 33 Kings and no Western power ever ruled Siam. During that time the various Kings engaged in more than 70 wars, until finally an invading Burmese army raided the city and looted most of its treasures. The city was left to crumble until 1991 when the ruins were designated a Unesco World Heritage Site.
We had carefully planned how to get there, and whether you go by train, taxi, or bus, all the guide books said it takes around 1.5 hours plus a ferry across a river. We’d decided to go by train, and then hire a bike to get around the various sites. The fare for the express service is 66 Baht for first class, (£1.22) 35 Baht for second class (.70p) and 15 Baht for third class. (.30p) We waited outside our hotel for a taxi to take us to the train station, and the guy there started to sell us on the idea of taking a taxi for the day. ‘It will be too expensive’ we protested. ‘No No – he will stay with you all day and take you to all the different places and bring you home’ was the reply. ‘Only 2000 Baht.’ A quick calculation, and that was £20.00 each…… Bearing in mind that it costs £17.00 to get a taxi to Bristol airport from our house which is 15 minutes away, it really was a no brainer. Our holiday here was based on ‘backpacking’ and doing it cheaply, but actually, that ‘romantic’ notion went out of the window several months ago. Neither of us are under 20, (well, we’re the wrong side of 50 actually but that’s beside the point) and wherever we stay and whatever we do here, it IS cheap. OK, so there are many degrees of ‘cheap’ but we don’t need to slum it darling!
Our driver was very friendly and patient, albeit with very little English, but it soon became apparent that we had definitely made the right decision. The various ruins are spread out over a vast area, and the tourist map was of little help. We saw so much more than we would have done if we had hired bikes, as our driver simply took us to the top places to visit, and just let us spend as much time as we wanted at each. At each site he would find a shady place to sit (with his iPad!) and wait for us. A welcome blast of air-con in the taxi between the sites was very welcome and when we’d had enough, we clambered back in and were taken back to Bangkok. All in all, a very successful day. It was great to wander around the ruins and in a restored Wat (temple) and was just like stepping back in time. Not as impressive as Angkor Wat in Cambodia but still worth seeing, and nowhere near as crowded.
People can buy little pieces of gold leaf and coins, and then stick them onto the statues.
When Ayuttaya was abandoned, this head was left and the tree roots are slowly engulfing it.
We arrived back in time for a bit of ‘sun lounger’ time before heading out to a local Wat where there was a ceremony taking place. It was a 15 minute ‘interesting’ walk from our hotel, and we crossed a few smelly rivers, back streets, stinky drains and lots of traffic to get there. Photos weren’t allowed, so that’s it for this post.