Travelling to Ayutthaya, we opted for the cheaper train seats this time, but being in the middle of the day, and buying just before boarding, it was more crowded than our early morning ride to Pak Chong. We had been recommended a hostel called Baan Are Gong, which was also in the Lonely Planet guide. Luckily they and just one double room left at around 570 baht all together. In the guide it said that the building was over 100-years-old and it felt incredible to be able to stay there. It was made of a dark teak wood and was decorated in a Thai-Chinese style. The door to the room had a small wall that you had to step over, and the big double bed was covered in a mosquito net (though it had a couple of holes in, and a wide entrance, I had got lots of mosquito bites already from the park, and had more to come). We soon left, after some of the great food served at the attached estuary at, opting for the 4pm boat tour, thinking it would be more restful.
Though Ayutthaya seemed calmer and fresher than Bangkok, walking in the heat was still a challenge, even with the breeze from the boat. This time it was a proper public boat that stopped off at various hotels and hostels. That said, the wooden flooring wasn’t perfect and on one stop, when trying to get back on the boat, my leg went right through the floor and I fell face-down on the deck. I’m the kind of person who would normally jump up from embarrassment and try to pretend that it didn’t happen, but for some reason my brain didn’t quite kick into action and my body remained there for an inordinately long time, and when I got to my seat, I rubbed my bruised ankle in attempt to soothe it.
If I remember correctly, on the boat tour we visited Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, Wat Chai Wattanaram, and Wat Phanan Choeng. Ayutthaya is an island as it is surrounded by water, and all these locations were off the island. It used to be the capital of Thailand, and much of the sites include ruins from this period, after an attack from Burma (what is now Myanmar). The highlight of this trip for me, along with the fish-feeding at the latter destination, was seeing the sunset over Wattanaram. The difficult thing about boat tours is that the twenty minutes you’re given is never really enough, so we ended up being the last ones on the boat as we tried to soak up the glorious sunset and feel a pocket of calm in another Thai city.
We returned to get changed and met up quite late with the two girls from Amsterdam. We ate a place they had found and chatted. It was quite cool as we had stuff in common, and interestingly neither of them drank alcohol (neither does my boyfriend). The restaurant served us water, but it was in glass bottles, and after at first thinking it was fancy, my suspicions were confirmed at another place — it was tap water, bottled up and made to look new with the metallic caps. Still, water in Bangkok is safe to drink, provide it is filtered, which I’m sure it was at this place. Less busy than Bangkok, it wasn’t as easy getting back, especially being on the other side of the water (the 5 baht ferry across having stopped at 8 o’clock), but we made it. In Ayutthaya, as in other areas of Thailand, there are a lot of dogs. I’m not the best with dogs as it is, but it’s important to be aware of rabies, even having been vaccinated, and that it can be passed on through licking, as well as through biting. Whether it’s a stray or owned, whether it looks rabid or not, there is a possibility there.
The next day we were due to go back to Bangkok, but not before an early rise, a hearty breakfast and a look around the sights inside the island. We started off at Wat Phra Mahathat, where we searched amongst the ruins to find the sandstone head of a Buddha tangled in the roots of a tree. The site dated back to 1374, and gave a taste for what else was to come. We walked through the greenery, over bridges and by lakes and rivers. We passed through other temples and made it to the large bronze 17 metre high Buddha at Wihaan Phra Mongkhon Bophit. After resting in the shade with some water, we explore Wat Phra Si Sanphet, built in the late 15th century.
It connected to the Old Royal Palace, at which point we walked too far out into the green, and were trapped by a barbed wire fencing and large roads. Not to mention stretches of river with no way over. We backtracked: hot, tired, and running out of water. Eventually we made it out and got a ride to the ferry port. We then probably should have eaten, but it would mean a two-hour wait for the next train, so we powered through and got the next train with just minutes to spare. This train was really cheap compared to the others, but we haven’t quite figured out why. It was very difficult travelling at that time (around 1.30pm), being so dehydrated and hungry. The railway in Thailand is also something to get used to — instead of bridges, you walk directly over certain sections of the track to different platforms. Everyone has been really helpful to us there, making sure we get on the right train.
Back in Bangkok, we needed to cool down and drink water. So, it wasn’t until get late that we got to eat something. It’s now our third time in Bangkok as I write this and I only just spotted the 7-11 right outside the hostel! We had been walking 10-15 minutes to get one. And it looked like they did the SIM cards we needed at the start after all. I think this might have been the night where we ate at a local place that was like street-food but you could sit down inside. I had grilled chicken and rice, which was great! My boyfriend had duck’s mouth, and that was… well, that’s what happens sometimes when you order unusual things! The following day we due to fly to Phuket, and we couldn’t have been more ready for a beach to plonk ourselves onto!