April 25-29, 2016
Ayutthaya, the locals call it ‘Venice of Asia’ (but Hoi An gets that title in our opinion), is an island four kilometres by three kilometres surrounded by three rivers. An hour and a half van ride from Bangkok, we never really left the concrete jungle to get here. Instead of a bus to reach this destination, we ride a series of metros to get off at the War Veterans Monument somewhere in the middle of Bangkok. A bunch of vans running with the air conditioning going full blast just sit around the monument and wait for enough people to show up for the destination before the van leaves. Weird? Well, to these Canadian roaming two, you bet that’s weird. A complete unknown as to when we would leave, it is an indication into the relaxed nature of the Thai culture.
It was HOT, like we have never experienced hot. The mercury fluctuated between 40-45C during our stay and we drank more water and ice drinks than our wallet had planned. Our clothes were soaked right through within a half an hour of being outdoors. The breeze created during our bike riding was the only relief until we got to our air conditioned room in the evening. We learnt that we were there at the hottest time of the year and Thailand is currently having its worst drought in many, many years.
Equipped with our sun protection tube scarfs, hats and SPF, we tackled Wat after Wat after Wat. Ayutthaya is all about getting on a bicycle (or, for others, a three wheeled motorized Tuk Tuk) and exploring the many, many ruins and temples that date back as far as 1600.
In Ayutthaya, we saw the tallest Buddha, reclining Buddha, sandstone Buddha, white Buddha, the Buddha that was moved from one site to another and the Buddha head that no one really knows why tree branches are growing around it.
There was a catholic church built in 1600’s, numerous elephants, and a lot of great parks with ruins to explore and enjoy listening to real cool birds sing their songs. Some Wats were big and some small. Our favorite was Wat Ratburnana. No one was around, so we approached this Wat with a bit of skepticism. What a treat when we climbed up the stupa and found a tight, steep stairway going back down within the core of the stupa. At the end was a little room big enough for two people and the site where gold relics were stored thousands of years ago. Goosebumps!
In the evenings, an unassuming and otherwise vacant road with homes on one side unfolds into the night market. Vendors set up their stands to sell everything from bras to jeans and sneakers. Food stands set up to sell fried chicken, wok’d vegetables and masterpiece looking dessert items. We find a Pad Thai station run by a mother, her son and his young son. All fresh ingredients, it is the best Pad Thai ever and we eat it three nights in a row! 100 Baht for two ($3.60 CDN) including a drink and a tip for the young boy and we left stuffed knowing we may never find delicious fresh Pad Thai like that again.
Our two day planned stay in Ayutthaya became a five day stay. We never tired of bike riding around the island on our rented bikes while exploring temples with history our 21st century iPhone, laptop, Starbuck fannies could never imagine living through.
…Christine and Mark
Sample expenses (Currency is Thai Bhat, 1$ CDN = 27.4 Bhat). All expenses in Baht unless noted
- 100 Baht ($3.64 CDN) – Pad Thai and drinks at the night market
- 138 Baht ($5.02 CDN) – 2 chicken rice meals
- 31 Baht ($1.14 CDN) – 2 Sprites
- 14 Baht ($0.51 CDN) – 1.5L water
- 84 Baht ($3.05 CDN) – Breakfast from grocery store (4 yogurts and 4 bananas)
- 35 Baht ($1.27 CDN) – Roti and pulled sugar (local treat) from vendor
- 600 Baht ($21.82 CDN) Baan Bussara Homestay
- 3 x 60 Baht ($6.54 CDN) – 3 seats on a van from Bangkok to Ayutthaya (1 seat for our backpacks)
- 80 Baht ($2.91 CDN) – 2 bicycle rentals from our hotel (per day)