Our one week on Koh Tao had now come to an end. I enjoyed the island so much! I was quite sad to leave and already made plans for our return.
We decided to go back and stop off in Bangkok for a couple of days on route to Chiang Mai. We didn’t take the sleeper train this time but spent a whole day travelling by boat and bus courtesy of Lomprayah. It was a relatively easy journey, just over 10 hours in total.
I was glad to be back in Bangkok, the land of amazing streetfood and we made sure we had it every mealtime. Streetfood in Bangkok is astonishing – we got amazing noodle / noodle soup for 40 Bahts (about £0.8) each and ate it by the roadside. It is such a cool, novel experience, I much prefer it over sit down restaurants where you are paying much more to be waited on and for the roof over your head, when the food served to you on the street is just as good if not even better!
We went on a daytrip out of Bangkok to Ayutthaya. This ancient city was the capital of the old Thai Kingdom of Siam. It was at point the trading capital of Asia and even the world.
As it isn’t too far from Bangkok it is a really popular day trip for tourists.
At first we tried to hop on a local bus from the bus station, but that proved to be an impossible task. I don’t know if our experience was unique, or if other travellers also had similar experiences, but we took the Skytrain to Mo Chit stop, which is where the bus station is supposed to be, and we walked around quite a bit but did not find a bus station. There were buses departing regularly from one side of the road, so we walked there and asked an official looking fellow which bus we needed to take and where we had to pay for the ticket, he told us bus number 77 and we had to pay in the Skytrain ticket office. So back up the stairs to the Skytrain and the officer in there asked us if we wanted to go by VIP bus or local bus. We said local bus, but she didn’t look like she wanted to give us tickets for that, she just said go back down and a taxi will take us to the VIP bus. Down again. We asked a couple of guys and no one knew which VIP bus went to Ayutthaya. At this point we looked at each other and decided this was ridiculous. We walked back up the Skytrain -again – but this time got on and went all the way to the end of the line to Hua Lumphong train station. This little excursion cost us an hour and a half.
(Since then I have found out you have to get a 10 minute taxi ride from Mo Chit to the bus station, but the only taxis available when we went were scooter taxis..More info on how to get there can be found on this website: http://www.1stopbangkok.com/getting_here/bus)
At the train station we super quickly got our ticket for 20 Bahts (!!) each for the 90 minute journey to Ayutthaya. The train was quite the local experience and it ran with a 30 minute delay, but for 20 Bahts (£0.4) it was excellent value for money.
Apparently by the 18th century with its population of 1 million Ayutthaya had become the largest city in the world. But when the Burmese invaded the city they almost completely burnt it down.
The ruins of Ayutthaya is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the historic centre is very impressive.
When you first arrive in Ayutthaya by train you have to make your way to the ferry which is about a 5 minute walk away. The ferry costs 10 Bahts (£0.20) per person and only takes a couple of minutes to go across the river and they go back and forth all day.
Then what most people do is hire a tuktuk driver to take them around all the sites, as there are quite a few and the distances are too big to walk. Tuktuk charge 200 Bahts (£4) per hour. You can also hire bikes or scooters.
We didn’t actually want to hire a tuktuk, but we came across a driver that was so charming, we just had to climb in and go for a ride. He didn’t speak any English at all, but he had a selection of postcards of each of the sites and we just pointed to the ones we wanted to go to. He also had a book of recommendations that he showed us, which was basically a small notebook where tourists that hired him left messages of thanks.
Very clever idea.
So he hooked us in and we visited some of the sites of Ayutthaya. Wwe went to the Grand Palace, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Lokayasutharam) and Wat Chaiwatthanaram, but could have spent hours and hours visiting a half a dozen other sites as well. Next time I would maybe hire a bicycle, which is what a lot of people did.