Today we are visiting a World Heritage Site situated not far from Bangkok, about an hour and a quarter drive. We arranged a good price for the trip with our taxi driver yesterday and he will collect us from the hotel at 09:00.
We set off on time for Ayutthaya Historical Park, and the traffic is not too bad. Nevertheless the city is so huge that it takes quite a while before we leave the industrial areas behind and start to pass through vast areas of green fields, with lots of trees and many rivers and waterways. I presume that the fields are growing rice. The area is completely flat, as is the city. We haven’t seen a hill since we arrived.
The Thais drive on the left, so at least something is familiar. Our driver is very sweet and quite shy, which is very unusual amongst the Thais that we have met, and he says very little, which makes the journey very peaceful. Mostly the drivers don’t stop talking, which can be endearing but also becomes a bit annoying after a while.
Ayutthaya is a huge site of ancient temples spread over a vast area – you can find out more at this UNESCO website: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/576
Our first stop is fascinating with many ruins and no officials to tell us what not to do. We are free to roam around at will with not too many other visitors around.
We are really glad to have a private car and that we are not part of an organised coach trip, which was our original intention. We have the freedom to stay as long as we like and are not herded from site to site.
I won’t describe the ruins in great detail as the photos will do a much better job. However I would thoroughly recommend a visit to this fascinating area – you could not fail to be impressed.
Our second stop was at an elephant taxi station. There must have been at least twenty adult elephants giving rides, and quite a few young calves around to entertain the visitors.
They seemed very well cared for – when they were waiting for passengers they were able to group together in the shade and feed, and as each elephant completed its twenty minute stroll, it was given a shower.
Our elephant was fourteen years old. It was a bit like being in a very slow tuktuk, not too secure and weaving in and out of the traffic, although most of the journey was on side paths. It was a great experience that we both really enjoyed.
We visited many more sites, some obviously on the organised tour route that were much more busy. And a few were closed to the public owing to the damage that was done by recent severe flooding, which reached a height of about 150cm.
We finally decided that we had actually seen enough ruins and buddhas for one day and returned to the city at about 15:00 and ate a cheap lunch in a street cafe. Once again, excellent food.
After a prolonged afternoon rest at the hotel, we ventured out again in the evening to the quieter street, parallel to our hotel and ate dinner in a very nice restaurant with some live music. I had a Thai green curry which was probably my least favourite meal so far, and Ella had a grilled snapper which was her most favourite food to date.
We returned to our room with some fresh fruit from the street vendors – mango and pineapple – and watched a couple of episodes of the series “Damages” (American lawyer ‘who done it’ drama) that I had downloaded onto my iPad. We are both already hooked.