2.1.2: The former Thai Capitals
Day 67: Bangkok to Ayutthaya
This morning I was up early and got a taxi to the train station. The staff members at the train station were very helpful and it was easy to get a ticket and a timetable. I got a ticket for Ayutthaya which was incredibly cheap at 20 Baht (about 40p). I waited at the platform and at 8:00 the anthem played and all the Thai people stood up. I didn’t know what to do so I copied some of the other foreigners who stayed sitting. The train I was supposed to be on didn’t arrive; neither did the next one, so in the end I took a slow train that left an hour after the one I was supposed to be on. The train was very slow going through Bangkok and stopped often. I arrived in Ayutthaya at about midday. At the station I met a couple from Canada called Ed and Jaime who were on their honey-adventure through Hawaii, Thailand and Laos. We got the 4 Baht boat across the river together and headed to the area known as ‘little Khao San Road’. The two nicest places we found were fully booked so we backtracked a little and stayed at Al’s Place and had some lunch and a beer in the restaurant there. Over lunch we talked about our occupations. Ed and Jaime work in the performing arts and organize dances and performances in their hometown, Calgary. After lunch we went to do some sightseeing. We first saw the Wat Ratburana which has a well preserved central prang (spire) which you can go down inside to a crypt. We then went to the Wat Phra Mahathat which has a stone Buddha’s head tangled within the roots of a Bodhi tree.
67.1. Around Ayutthaya.
We came to the central park and Ed and Jaime stayed here as they were tired and had another day to see the rest of the town. I continued on and saw a few more temples. Many were in ruins after the 18th Century Burmese invasion. The most impressive was the Wat Phra si Sanphet which had three well preserved chedis (chedi is the Thai name for stupa). In the evening I met with Ed and Jaime again and we had dinner and then went to the Ayutthaya Jazz café which had some live music.
67.2. The Ayutthaya Jazz Band.
Day 68: Ayutthaya to Sukhotai
After yesterdays problems with the trains I decided to take a bus this morning. I got a tuk-tuk to the bus station and was able to get a bus direct to Sukhotai without needing to change at Phitsanulok. The bus went north through the large industrial town of Nakhon Sawan after which the scenery became more rugged and mountainous. The bus drove through the old town of Kamphaeng Phet and I saw some of the ruined temples through the windows. I got a sawngthaew from the bus station into town and got a room at the Garden Guesthouse. In the evening I went for a walk around town and had some dinner at a small restaurant where I had crispy chicken with the local Sukhotai sauce.
Day 69: Sukhotai
Today I got a sawngthaew to the Sukhotai historical park which was about 10 km out of town. I decided to hire a bicycle, as this was how most people were getting around the 70 km2 park, but it had been a long time since I’d ridden one. In the end I was very glad to have taken it. The park is divided up into five zones; north, south, east and west and central. The central zone contains the most impressive well-preserved monuments but is also the busiest. The most impressive monuments were the Wat Mahathat, which is main sight and contains many Buddha statues, and the Wat Sri Sawai, with its three Khmer style prangs.
69.1. My bike outside Wat Mahathat (L) and the three prangs at Wat Sri Sawai (R).
I went for lunch and then visited the north zone where I saw the Wat Sri Chum, with its huge Buddha statue. I then cycled back through the central zone to visit the west zone. I followed the road to Wat Sapha Hin, a temple on a hill, which has good views over the Sukhotai historical park. The west zone was much less touristy than the others and felt remote. In some of the ruins I was alone apart from a few cows. After visiting the temple I cycled back and passed through the central zone as the sun was setting. I came back to town and in the evening I went to the night market and had a Thai green curry.
69.2. The giant Buddha statue at Wat Sri Chum (L) and with the cows in the western zone (R).
69.3. Wat Mahathat in the central zone as the sun was setting.