22.02.2013 - 22.02.2013 38 °C
Today started with a much needed lay in. Once we were up we went for a walk around the nearby streets to find a place for breakfast. It is weird being back to travelling around after a month at the safari. We settled on a back street restaurant that was full of locals. The owners spoke zero English and our Thai is still terrible no matter how hard we try so we resolved to pointing to what another customer had. It ended up being very nice and surprisingly cheap so we left happy. We had thinly sliced char su pork with Chinese sausage on rice. As always it came with an array of delicious condiments and a chicken broth.
Our plan for the day was to rent a couple of bicycles and cycle around some of the main sights. We got two bikes for 80baht and set off. Our fist stop was Wat Mahathat, the nearest temple ruin to where we are staying. It cost 50 baht to get in and was well worth it. We strolled around the ruins looking at all the Buddha images and temple ruins.
We knew one of the ruins housed the iconic image of the Buddha head surrounded by vines and we notice a mob of tourists surrounding a tree so realised it was here. It was very busy and dozens of people were queued up and sat in front of it to get a picture with this head. We were surprised by the amount of people.
Ayutthaya is surrounded by a moat and in the centre is a park. Throughout the whole city there are temple ruins and archeological sights. After we had looked around Wat Mahathat we sat by the river in the shade and had a ride through the park, crossing the connecting rivers and passing
local vendors selling iced drinks and ice cream.
Next was Phra Mongkonbhit, home of the largest bronze sitting Buddha statue in Thailand. We have seen a lot of large sitting Buddhas during our time here and this one easily towered them. It was covered in gold leaf and only just fitted in the building that it sat in. There were several people worshipping and a few monks but the place was spoilt by a shop inside selling Buddha souvenirs.
Next door to this stands Wat Phra Si Sanphet. Another 50 baht entrance fee but again worth it. This was different to the rest has it had three large chedi's in the centre of the ruins that you walked around and they had either been restored or were still in very good condition. The rest of the complex was red brick and in a ruined state but is being restored. It is huge and taking photos of individual sections does not do justice to the size and scale of the complex. We got a few pictures and explored some of the nooks and crannies before leaving as we were too hot.
We cycled a bit further until we came across an elephant that was being used to give rides to tourists up and down a main road. It was horrible, it had an uncomfortable metal seat for tourists to sit on and was just walking up and down a concrete path. We wondered why anyone from the developed world would ever pay to ride an elephant in these conditions and as we went further on we found a lot more. They were not only used for carrying tourists on chairs around the streets but also in a terrible show where the elephants, obviously in pain by the noises they made, had to balance on their front and then back legs and dance to music whilst being hit with bull hooks. There's an elephant show at the safari park which used to be like this and they used to use the chairs to ride the elephants but the volunteers managed to change it so the tracking is bareback and the show is humane and challenging for the elephants.
By this point the heat was getting the better of us and we decided to come back and start planning our Myanmar trip. As we are not there very long we are going to try and plan as much as we can just to make our time there a little easier.
In the evening we went to the night market. We still had the bikes so we used them to avoid the dogs. The night market was excellent, there were a few clothes stalls but basically it was all food. We strolled around mouths watering until we settled on a stall selling whole BBQ'd fish. We shared a large one with papaya salad and it also came with noodles, a plate of greens and herbs and some sauces. It was one of the best meals we have had. We also passed a stall selling cake so bought some to take back as belated birthday cake for Chelsea. Unfortunately the Thai's seem to have a skill for making cake with absolutely no taste or texture and this was another one of them wonders.
Before returning to the room we shared a couple of beers and talked about up plans over he next couple of months, we seem to be agreeing on what to do which is good. We then came back to the room to carry on our Myanmar research.