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  • Day9

    Day 8 - The Ruins of Ayutthaya

    December 18, 2019 in Thailand ⋅ ☀️ 34 °C

    Woke up around 6.00am in our comfortable new bed. Before 9.00am we were up & out. We 1st paid for our accommodation & add a fourth night. We then ordered egg on toast & coffee. I had scrambled, which was a bit runny & Jackie had fried eggs that weren’t sunny side up, more sunburnt. The coffee was ridiculously strong. We will be having breakfast out in future.

    Over breakfast, we booked a van that would take us down to Bangkok on Saturday. All the trains were fully booked! We then gave our Homestay hosts 2 bags of washing & then hired a little scooter from them and hit the road.

    We zipped about a bit on our scooter just getting our bearings around Ayutthaya. We did notice that every other western tourist was getting about on bicycles, maybe we will try that on Friday!

    The rivers of Mae Nam Chao Phraya & Mae Nam Lopburi surround Ayutthaya creating an Island. Ayutthaya was the capital of Siam from 1350 until 1767, when it was brutally ransacked & vandalised by the Burmese. In it’s heyday, Ayutthaya had more than 400 temples, but now they either lay in ruins or have only been partially restored. In 1991 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s like a budget version of Siem Reap.

    After scooting around for about an hour, we stopped at Wat Maya That which is only just up the road from our Homestay. We paid our 50 Baht & joined the other tourists, mainly Thai or Chinese, we’re not sure which. Wat Maya That has the most photographed attraction in Ayutthaya, which is a sandstone Buddha head tangled within the entwined roots of a bodhi tree. Wat Maya That was built in 1373 and is the most important temple in the kingdom. It did have a 43 foot central ‘aptly named’ prang (Hindi/Khmer style stupa) but collapsed before the Burmese arrived & despite being rebuilt in more recent times, it collapsed again in 1911.

    Next stop was next door at Wat Ratchaburana, again 50 Baht, which had a prang that we were allowed to climb up to visit the crypt (apparently the largest in Thailand). We climbed to the top up the steep steps & climbed back down after seeing the roosting bats.

    We continued onwards stopping to see an enormous (at least 6ft) monitor lizard swim across a lake, then waddle out onto the bank. We then pulled up at Wat Phra Ra (50 Baht), constructed in 1369 on the burial site of King U Thong, Ayutthaya kingdom’s 1st sovereign. It wasn’t the best preserved, so I asked Jackie to stand behind a headless Buddha, so I could take a photo with her head on it. The photo was rubbish, but more importantly & funnier, Jackie got told off for being in area she wasn’t allowed to be!

    Moving on swiftly, we drove to Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit, a ‘free’ Buddhist Temple that houses one of Thailand’s largest bronze Buddhas, that dates back to 1538. It measures 12.5 metres high & coated in gold. It should have been called Lucky, because it caught fire after being struck by lightning, before the Burmese came along & damaged it.

    After, we went next door (50 Baht) to Wat Phra Si Sanphet, which turned out to be my favourite. The centrepiece was three towering stupas in a row, that for me were the most photogenic. We took quite a few photos, without getting in trouble.

    By now it was lunchtime, it was 34 degrees & we were hot & thirsty. We unashamedly followed the crowds to a restaurant opposite Wat Maya That & bagged ourselves an outside seat in the shade. The waitress came over & gave us the menus, but also her order pad & asked us to write down what we wanted. We ordered Tom Yum soup for Jackie & stir fried ginger & pork for me, with Chang Beer. It was all lovely, Jackie rated it one of her Tom Yums ever, but also one of the hottest.

    After dinner, we returned to our Homestay as a precaution so Jackie could use the loo, say no more. Whilst getting ourselves sorted, a maid turned up with our freshly laundered clothes, that we had given them just several hours earlier. Just 100 Baht, bargain!

    We headed back out & visited the Ayutthaya Tourist Center, where they had an interesting exhibition about life in Ayutthaya. We decided to do just one final ruin for the day, but somehow I got lost & couldn’t locate it. It’s quite hard reading a map whilst riding a scooter. Instead we ended up riding through a market that was teeming with children just out of school for the day. It was a tricky ride, but we managed not to hit anyone.

    After picking up some mosquito spray, the mossie’s are quite bad here, we returned to our Homestay. We have discovered that they don’t come in and clean the rooms, well they didn’t today.

    We returned to the Burinda Restaurant, where we shared a Pad Thai & a Green Curry. The evening was lovely, but was nearly ruined by a group of five foreign gap-year back packing tossers who shared a large bottle of water & each ordered the cheapest meal on the menu, but were so full of themselves. Several were typically vegetarians. Thank god we never ended up like that! Rant over.

    Song of the Day - Ruins by O. Children.
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  • Day11

    Day 10 - According to Ayutthaya Annals

    December 20, 2019 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 34 °C

    Leisurely start to the morning, I returned the scooter & arranged for us to hire a couple of bicycles.

    Gone 9am we popped next door to the Malakor Kitchen & Cafe for Latte Frappes & a slice of rich fruit cake. With still aching buttocks, but reenergised, we collected our sit up & beg bicycles & hit the road.

    We aimlessly pedalled, but realised we were seeing things that we had missed on the scooter. Our 1st stop was Wat Thammikarat (20 Baht) that was built by Phraya Thammikarat before the establishment of Ayutthaya City. It was not like the other Wats, more like a jumble sale in and around various ruins and a temple. There were lots of monks & old ladies sitting behind stalls on their mobile phones.

    We continued along the main road passing Million Toy Museum, which I’m led to believe is as it says, then turned off finding Wat Wora Chet The Ram.

    At Wat Wora Chet The Ram, we were informed ‘According to Ayutthaya annals, the temple was built by King Eankthosarot circa yn A.D. 1593 the year King Naresuan the Great died whule leading an army to attact King Tong-U in Burma. in honour cf his eider brother, King Eankthosarot built a mighty crematorium here and some 10,000 monk were invited to the Royal cremation’.

    It was one of my more favourite places with a couple of Buddhas, one in a falling down building & there was a stupa with offerings, mainly half drank bottles of pop.

    It was boiling hot, so we cycled for about another half hour, through Krungsri Night Market to Chao Sam Phraya National Museum for some shelter from the sun & much needed air con. The entrance fee was quite steep 150 Baht each, but it housed a lot of their National Treasures, golden artefacts from the crypts in the Wats around Ayutthaya. There was limited photography allowed & some exhibitions we were only allowed to enter under escort. It probably meant & was appreciated more by Thais /Buddhists.

    By the time we had cooled down, it was approaching lunchtime. We took our chances & cycled across town to the river on the eastern side of the island & located a shabby restaurant with a great view of the river. It was the perfect place to sit in the shade & watch life on the river, including tugboats pulling massive barges. We had a couple of Changs, Jackie had fish cakes, whilst I had chicken noodles. It was lovely & we stayed for a relaxing couple of hours.

    We left & decided to return home for a siesta. We were pedalling furiously when a motorcyclist was beeping furiously behind. We stopped to discover it was the waiter with Jackie’s sunglasses that she had left behind.

    Back at our Homestay we had an extended siesta until 5pm, then we popped out to get provisions for our forthcoming rail journey, whilst we still had the bikes. We bought 2 bottles of Hong Thong causing the shop assistant to gasp “wow”.

    Returning home, we got ready & went out. I wore my rat infested t-shirt. We were walking down the road when we were accosted by a young couple who asked us if we could recommend any restaurants nearby. We certainly could, so we pointed them in the direction of Burinda.

    We then continued to a fabulous food market, with freshly cooked dishes of all descriptions. We eventually stopped at a Pad Thai stall for a lovely plate of food for just 40 Baht (£1) each.

    Later we headed home & said hello to the young couple who were still in Burinda. We sat down for a cold beer & a short time later the young couple came over and asked if they could join us & ask us some questions about Ayutthaya. They had only arrived that afternoon having just flown into Bangkok.

    Typically neither of us had our phones with us or a map, but we did our best to advise them as to the highlights. It turned out they were Stefan & Karina from Zurich, Switzerland & had only recently finished university. Karina had spent a lot of time in Oxford studying. Weirdly they were planning to spend Christmas in Koh Lanta, as are we, & they fly home from Bangkok the same day as us, 14th January.

    They took our contact details & insisted we contacted them if we ever visited Switzerland, even offering up their parent’s place as somewhere to stay. We said our goodbyes & returned home for a nightcap & early night.

    Song of the Day - The Annals by Frank Barile
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  • Day8

    Day 7 - The Train to Ayutthaya

    December 17, 2019 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    We both had a restless night and were wide awake before the 6am alarm call. We showered & packed & went down to breakfast at 7am.

    After coffee & croissants, we settled our bill & arranged for a taxi to take us to Chiang Mai Railway Station. The 15 minute journey cost us just 79 Baht (£2), so feeling generous, I let her keep the 100 Baht note I gave her.

    Jackie left me outside the station with the luggage whilst she went off to collect our rail tickets from a nearby hotel. She came back with a silly grin on her face so I knew we were definitely sitting together, we were.

    We walked up the platform & boarded our Special Express to Bangkok. We trooped up & down the carriage, accidentally crashing our rucksacks on literally every passenger that had already boarded.

    At 8.50am sharp, the train pulled out of Chiang Mai. It was only a quarter full, so we both moved to more favourable window seats & spread out. The majority of the passengers were Thai, who were very smiley & friendly. The train passed through initially jungle & mountainous scenery, which then flattened out to farm land and paddy fields.

    Shortly after boarding, a hostess came round with a trolley & supplied us with coffee & a banana custard filled bun. An hour later she was back with 3 cartons each, which contained 1. stir-fry chicken in basil leaves, 2. Fried baby clams & 3. sticky rice. It was disgusting, Jackie said that she wouldn’t have fed it to her cat......if she had one. The whole lot went in the bin. We had a ‘consolatory’ Hong Thong & some Lays! Later on our hostess returned with more coffee & a packet of fig rolls each.

    Throughout the journey we made several stops, where more people got on than got off & before long, we had been forced to return to our allocated seats. We both read our books, yes even Jackie! There is photographic evidence.

    We arrived at Ayutthaya at 7.15pm, almost exactly the same time it took us to fly from Heathrow to Bangkok. Overall the train journey had been a very pleasant experience, not bad for just £22.50 each!

    For 100 Baht we took a Tuk Tuk 🛺 to our new accommodation, Baan Kong Homestay on the island in Ayutthaya. We checked in & had to promise that we would pay later as we didn’t have enough cash to pay up front.

    We dumped our bags, changed into shorts, it is considerably hotter in Ayutthaya, then headed out for a beer & a snack. We firstly got out 10,000 Baht from an ATM, then selected a restaurant called Burinda Restaurant. I had a Pad Thai, whilst Jackie had a Nasi Goreng. It was the best food we had had on this trip other than maybe my Massaman curry in Chiang Mai.

    Feeling chilled, we returned to our Homestay, only to find we were locked out, until we managed to squeeze through a side gate, to break back in. We ended our night sat on our balcony listening to the soothing sounds of Nick Drake.

    Song of the Day - The Day We Caught The Train by Ocean Colour Scene.
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  • Day32

    Tagesausflug nach Ayutthaya

    January 31, 2020 in Thailand ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    Nachdem wir gestern in Bangkok angekommen sind, haben wir heute gleich die Gelegenheit genutzt und von hier aus einen Ausflug in die Stadt Autthaya unternommen.
    Diese war früher einmal die zweite Hauptstadt Thailands und äußerst wichtig für das Land.
    Mittlerweile sind leider nur noch einige Reste der Bauwerke übrig, die daran erinnern lassen wie erhaben die Stadt einmal gewesen sein muss.

    Mein ganz persönliches Highlight spielte sich jedoch gestern Abend ab als wir uns nach dem Restaurantbesuch auf den Heimweg begaben und ich glatt mein lädiertes Bein vergessen hatte.
    Zum ersten Mal seit zwei Wochen bin ich wieder in ganz normaler Geschwindigkeit mit Tobi die Straßen entlang gelaufen 🤩
    Allerdings ist Tobi sich noch nicht ganz einig, was ihm besser gefallen hat - zu schleichen und davor bewahrt zu werden, sich bei der Hitze zu viel bewegen zu müssen oder sich beim Gehen nicht mehr ständig nach mir umdrehen zu müssen, dafür aber jedes Türmchen erklimmen zu dürfen, das uns begegnet 😉
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  • Day6


    February 5, 2019 in Thailand ⋅ 🌙 28 °C

    Heute sind wir (Philipp mit Rückenschmerzen) um 09:30 Uhr aus dem steinharten Bett aufgestanden. Wir haben uns für 300 Baht (CHF 9.60) einen Roller und zwei Helme gemietet und sind von Tempel zu Tempel gefahren. Es war sauheiss und sehr schön! Heute beginnt das chinesische Neujahr, die Feierlichkeiten beginnen aber erst morgen. Wir sind trotzdem schon heute zum grossen chinesischen Tempel gefahren. Wir waren fast die einzigen Europäer und mit Nicht-roter-Kleidung auffällig grau angezogen.
    Abends gaben wir den Roller wieder ab, dabei durften wir uns eine von vier ID-Karten aussuchen (Pfandrückgabe). :)
    Wir liefen zum Nightmarket und assen bei einem Thai. Wir verstanden uns dank Händen und Füssen. Chantal kriegte etwas ohne Tier, Philipp dafür mit vier (Huhn, Schwein, Tintenfisch und Shrimps in Sauce).
    Glücklich gingen wir nach Hause und assen mit Hilfe vom Schweizer Taschenmesser Passionsfrüchte und Manila Tamarinde.
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  • Day4

    Tempelhopping in Ayutthaya

    January 16, 2020 in Thailand ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    Am dritten Tag ging es dann getreu dem Motto "Eine Zufahrt, die ist lustig...." in die alte Königsstätte Ayutthaya, eine kleine Stadt 140km nördlich von Bangkok. Die Zugfahrt hat uns für Hin- und Rückfahrt grandiose 60 Baht, also umgerechnet knappe 2 Euro gekostet :D.
    Der Stadtkern von Ayutthaya gehört seit 1991 zum Unesco-Weltkulturerbe und man findet dort zahlreiche, uralte Tempel, von denen wir uns natürlich so viele, wie möglich angeschaut haben, bis die Sonne allmählich unterging.
    Heute Abend (Freitag) fahren wir dann 10 Stunden über die Nacht mit dem Bus hoch in den Norden nach Chiang Mai, wo wir erstmal 5 weitere Nächte verbringen. Wir sind gespannt, was uns dort erwartet.
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  • Day262

    Ayutthaya Redux

    February 18, 2020 in Thailand ⋅ ☁️ 30 °C

    I decided to return to the ancient capital of Ayutthaya, almost a year after my first visit. (See this site, the trip “Thailand Challenge,” footprint “My Heart Remains in Ayutthaya.”) I wanted to stay at my former Airbnb property, with Nick, the brilliant cook, and Tom, her Russian husband, and Thai language expert—to catch up, get ideas for my studies, and roam around in a relaxed manner.

    I enjoyed biking to the beautiful ruins again, mourning the destruction of what must have been a sumptuous capital. Those awful Burmese—they just wouldn’t stop invading and conquering kingdoms in Thailand—Sukhothai, Lanna, Ayutthaya.

    There are two National Museums in Ayutthaya. This year I went to the smaller of the two, which features a very precious collection of antiquities donated by Mr. Praya Botan Rajatanin, housed in what was formally a residence for royalty traveling to Ayutthaya in the late 19th century. I enjoyed it, as it was a very understated royal residence, as such things go, and the collection of Buddhist statues, religious relics, and other historical items was small and well-chosen.

    I was told by Tom to go visit the Phananchoen Temple, in the southeast corner of the historic area—a Chinese temple with an enormous gold Buddha and an excellent library of ancient Buddhist texts. It took me two days to find it, as I let myself be led astray to walk wherever my curiosity led me, but finally, there I was. Yes, indeed there was a truly giant Buddha, shining in gold, and very impressive. But where was the library? I asked four people, then a fifth and a sixth—but no one knew. Finally a kind monk visiting from Bangkok asked someone for me, and the answer was, “It’s under repair,” and that was the end of that. But not quite. The monk sent me an article and a YouTube clip showing the demise of the library in a terrible fire in April, 2012. The news was barely mentioned at the time, and now seems completely forgotten. An unimaginable tragedy. Here is link to the video of the fire:

    Ayutthaya offered me many opportunities to really practice my Thai. I took my breakfasts and dinners at Tom and Nick’s restaurant, and Tom kindly steered some of his regular Thai customers to my table to sit down and have a chat! And of course my street shenanigans never stopped. All in all, it was a very very pleasant stay.

    I was horrified when my plane descended into the black smoke and pollution covering Chiang Mai, but hey! I was home, and glad to get back to my routine.

    I hope you like the pictures, and please remember to sign your first name if you leave a comment.
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  • Day91


    November 30, 2019 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    Ayutthaya is an ancient city on an island surrounded by three rivers. In the olden days it was the Siamese capital until the attacking Burmese destroyed most of it. Now a modern town has grown up around the island but there are still ruins everywhere from the old palaces and temples.
    We spent three days exploring the ruins and parks. You can get right in to most of the ruins, climb up the towers which are still intact, walk through the old foundations and get close to the statues and parts of smashed up Buddhas which are everywhere.
    Just outside of town we visited an Elephant village. We had been meaning to go to see some elephants for ages but were waiting for somewhere which sounded nice. Here the elephants seemed healthy and well looked after but you never really know. It was good to see them even if it's a bit sad to see them kept in a little farm instead of in the wild.
    In the evenings there was a fantastic night market and we always went home far too full with fincsi things.
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  • Day1499

    Asia Tour - Ayutthaya - Thailand

    April 20, 2019 in Thailand ⋅ ☀️ 35 °C

    So today was one of the reasons I came back to Thailand - first time I was here in Bangkok I missed the ancient city of Ayutthaya which is something I really wanted to see. So I booked an all day tour which was the best thing as I couldn’t be arsed sorting out all 3 places on my own and it only worked out a few pound cheaper to do it myself anyway.

    First stop was the summer royal palace which is stunning, the entire grounds are immaculate... but I couldn’t go in without pants, so I had to buy a pair of those dodgy elephant pants every prick wears here as that’s all I could get. I wasn’t impressed.

    After there we went onto Ayutthaya- the place is awesome and I finally got to see the Buddha head stuck in the tree (bucket list ✅) the complex isn’t that big but the city of Ayutthaya is huge - 1000km larger than Bangkok but with less than 10% population so it’s quite sparse.

    After the city we went to a temple with a solid gold Buddha statue - very bling. Then we went to port and we cruised down the chao Praha river back to Bangkok whilst enjoying an all you can eat buffet. The cruise was awesome, very relaxing and it was cool to see how quickly Bangkok builds up from the river.

    So another thing off the bucket list done ✅ only a few more left now
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  • Day18

    It was a Wat day

    March 17, 2020 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 36 °C

    After nearly 4 hours of driving we arrived in Ayutthaya where the agenda is to visit 3 Wats.

    Ayutthaya is an ancient city and was once the second capital of Siam after Sukhothai and one of the most powerful in Asia. It had more than 1 million residents by AD1700 and enjoyed great riches, due to trading, with lavish palaces and temples.

    The first Wat we explored was Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon “the Monastery of Auspicious Victory” . The temple was founded in the second half of the 14th century during the reign of King U Thong, first ruler of Ayutthaya.

    The monastery got its present name after construction of the Chedi Chai Mongkhon in the late 16th century.

    During the Burmese invasion of 1767 the temple was largely destroyed.

    In 1592 the battle of Nong Sarai took place, one of many battles between Ayutthaya and the Burmese. During the battle Ayutthaya King Naresuan moved forward and attacked the Burmese Crown Prince Minchit Sra in one to one combat on war elephants.

    King Naresuan killed the Burmese Prince with his sword, after which the Burmese army retreated. On return to Ayutthaya the King ordered the Chedi Chai Mongkhon built to commemorate the victory over the Burmese.

    The second Wat is called Wat Phanan Choeng.

    Wat Phanan Choeng is famous for its enormous seated Buddha image, considered to be one of the most beautiful in the country. According to legend tears shed from the eyes of the image just before the destruction of Ayutthaya by the Burmese in 1767.

    The temple’s main attraction is its 19 metre high Buddha. The brick and mortar image named Phra Chao Phanan Choeng is seated in the posture of subduing Mara, otherwise known as Calling the Earth to witness.

    The image was built in 1324, several decades before Ayutthaya was founded. After its completion the image stood outside, as the viharn had not been built yet.

    Today the Phra Chao Phanan Choeng is enshrined in a Viharn (which is a large assembly hall), the Viharn Phra Phanan Choeng and its walls are lined with hundreds of niches containing small images of the Buddha.

    Third Wat was called Wat Phra Mahathat.

    Wat Mahathat, “the temple of the Great Relic” was one of the most important temples in the Ayutthaya Kingdom. Located on the historical island the large monastery features a huge central prang (spire), a very large principal viharn (assembly hall) an ubosot (hall) and a great number of subsidiary chedis (Stupas/tombs)) and viharns. The upper part of its once massive central prang has collapsed. Today only the base remains.

    The temple was constructed in 1374 by King Boromma Rachathirat I. A large prang was built to enshrine Buddha relics. The prang collapsed in the early 17th century, after which it was restored and enlarged. A large number of viharns and chedis have been added during the reign of later Kings.

    When the Burmese invaded and largely destroyed Ayutthaya in 1767, the Wat Mahathat was set on fire. The central prang collapsed again in the early 20th century and has not been restore. This Wat had one of the heads of a Bhudda entwined in the roots of a Banyan tree.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Ayutthaya, Ayutthaya - พระนครศรีอยุธยา, テーサバーンナコーン・プラナコーンシーアユッタヤー, Аюттхая, Ajuthaja, พระนครศรีอยุธยา