This was my favorite day in “Bangkok”, though Ayutthaya itself is a bit of a hike north. We woke up super early to grab pastries on our way to catch a shuttle van that would take us to Ayutthaya. Deciding to go with this (instead of a train) because it was cheaper was a bit of a nightmare. We got to Victory Monument before the protest that lived there woke up too much, and then spent about 15 minutes trying to figure out which van we were supposed to get in. Eventually we crammed into the back of one and hoped for the best. Fortunately the driver spoke enough English and remembered where we were going, so he told us when to get off, which was at a gas station.
Knowing we were going to need to haggle a driver for the day, I had insisted we get coffee and food immediately on our arrival so that we’d have time to reset from the drive out and get our heads on straight. Frank and I both HATE haggling. So we drank our coffee while drivers lurked outside. When finally it was time to go, I had my “good” price. First a driver approached us, agreed to our price, and then led us to his shiny black car with air condition. I said no, I wanted one of the open air tuk-tuks. Experience, you know? He was SO confused, and then all the drivers were dying laughing but I didn’t care, I wanted my open air tuk-tuk! And it worked out nicely because our driver was very kind and very helpful and smiled at us, which meant a lot at the time because despite what the guide books say the people of Bangkok are not “always smiling and happy to see you.”
We visited so many places that day, it’d be an epic long blog, but I’ll post some pictures and talk about my absolute favorites.
Inside the giant tower in Wat Ratchaburana, in the middle room down a narrow stairwell were these faded drawings on the wall.
If you climbed further down still and then stuck your head up an opening, you were suddenly inside an old king’s tomb! It’s empty now, of course, but the paintings on the wall are beautiful.
Stop #5, Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit. There was some sort of festival going on.
By this point of the day, the sun was scorching overhead and we were exhausted. We had one more stop, and it turned out to be an awesome one! It was fun trying to imagine when this place had been in its prime, hundreds of years ago, surrounded by jungle and in sight of the river. Now it’s a crumbling brick construction site with sentinels of headless Buddha statues. The final stop and maybe my favorite of the day in Ayutthaya, Wat Chaiwatthanaram. You couldn’t go wander around the middle, but even just walking around the outside was really incredible.
We bought a coconut to drink as our driver took us to the train station, where the man selling the tickets were horrifically unhelpful and refused to let us buy tickets with anything but the absolute smallest bills. This would be like Amtrak not letting you buy a train ticket with a $100 even though your ticket is $83. Come ooooon.
The wait for our train was fun –train stations are the same wherever you go, really, except that this one had monks. The train ride back was nice, and our first experience with Bangkok’s subway system was nothing like I’d feared. We made it back to the hotel in time to eat dinner and then collapse from the heat and the walking. But I, for one, was thrilled with the day. I checked off another UNESCO World Heritage Site, and I got to see old ruins, which is a successful day of travel in my book!