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A Leisurely Day in Ayutthaya

sunny 38 °C
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Posted by Chelsandliam 08:56 Archived in Thailand Tagged thailand ayutthaya Comments (2)

Leaving the safari

Kanchanaburi to Ayutthaya.

sunny 37 °C
View Southeast asia on Chelsandliam's travel map.

Today we got up early and did the monkey clean and feed like usual at 7.30am and said goodbye to all our monkeys. We finished the clean and were ready to unite Fang and Nala, our two adult breeding leopards but they had not eaten there food so we had to wait. This should have gone ahead today but we missed it as we left after breakfast. It was really hard leaving but we know we will be going back. We said goodbye to Tat and Ned and then went down to the cubs where everyone else was. We had a little cuddle and play with the tigers and leopards and said goodbye to the rest of the team. Adam and Danni had painted us a picture of the sunset at the back of our houses which made Chelsea cry.

We said goodbye to Toy, the tiger keeper which was really upsetting as she's our favourite. Her children have come to every English lesson we have done and they got Chelsea a leopard print scarf because she loves Mocha and Latte the cubs which made Chelsea cry again. Toy says the last 2 days they have asked to not go to school so they can spend the day with us at he safari and Toy instructed us to travel for her as she can't go and to come back and show her all our pictures. We will really miss all the team and our baby cubs which we have become very attached to.

After our emotional departure from the safari we set off to Kanchanaburi. We dropped of the bike we have been renting for a month and payed up with no problems and the owner taxi'd us to the bus station for free to thank us for our custom. He showed us which bus and we got on straight away. To get to Ayutthaya from Kanchanaburi you can pay for a minivan to take to direct of you can cath the local bus which is a lot cheaper, changing at Suphan Buri. We got on the 411 bus and it cost 50 baht to Suphan Buri. As soon as we got on everyone stared at us and the little girl in front of us couldn't stop looking at us and touching all our things. She was so curious about us and Chelsea gave her and her sister and mum some sweets we had. She was adorable and she gave us a little Wai to say thank you. Even when Chelsea was asleep she was still staing at her and she kept playing peekaboo over the seats.

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Apart from our entertainment in the form of a really cute little girl the bus journey was quite uncomfortable. There is not much room for your legs and the seats are covered in faux leather. There are fans but they only work if the bus is stationary so it was hot and cramped all the way.... For £1 though you can't really complain. It took around two and a half hours to reach our change destination and we got straight onto our connecting bus to Ayutthaya which took around an hour and a half and cost 80 baht.

When we got to Ayutthaya we went in search of a nice place to stay. There are loads of options from tiny family run, extremely cheap places to big high end converted mansions. We enquired in a few different places and looked at one which was 300 baht for a double room with shared bathroom that wasn't that nice. For something so basic you could probably get it cheaper. We decided to stay in Chatana house. It is a beautiful big, wooden house that has been converted into a guest house. Upstairs they have private rooms with a small living space and bathroom and a balcony for 650 baht and downstairs there are aircon rooms for 600 baht and fan rooms for 500 baht. All the rooms have a private bathroom and are all spotlessly clean and decorated beautifully. We normally got for a much cheaper option but as we have been working so hard on the safari we decided to stay somewhere really nice.

We checked in and both had the longest shower ever known to feel clean again after the safari. It was amazing to have hot water. We relaxed in our room for a few hours and then went out for some tea. We walked through the streets and came to a wooden hut on stilts where you sit overlooking one of the ruins that dot Ayutthaya. We had a really nice meal and shared seafood and glass noodles and a whole cooked fish with spicy onion, chilli, lime and garlic salad on top. It was delicious.

We have not seen much of Ayutthaya yet but one major downside is all the aggressive dogs. Every street you take you are confronted with angry dogs that charge and bark at you. It is really scary, especially at night. Tomorrow we are going to try and rent some bycicles and have a ride around town and see some of the old temples that are throughout the city.

Posted by Chelsandliam 07:32 Archived in Thailand Tagged thailand ayutthaya Comments (3)

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