Temples & Tuk Tuks
This weekend was awesome. On Saturday I woke up before the sun and hitched a ride on a songteow headed to Nakhon Pathom. From there I took the all too familiar bus straight to Bangkok to meet up with Lauren. Then we were all set to depart for Ayutthaya, which is only about an hour North of Bangkok! One taxi and one (very crowded) van ride later, we had arrived. Traveling is getting way easier as I’m learning my way around… And it doesn’t hurt to have amazing coworkers to draw you maps before every trip!
Unfortunately, our third musketeer (Steph) had gotten really sick last week and had to miss out on the temple-ing. Steve, (who was meeting us in Ayutthaya but had gotten there the day before), also came down with a nasty bug right before we got there. Summed up in one sentence: extreme food poisoning in a hostel with no A/C and a shared bathroom! (Check out ShutupSteve.com for a good laugh).
Anyway, Lauren and I checked up on Steve, got a room at a hostel (Tony’s), and rented bikes for the day! There were too many temples and ruins to count. The city of Ayutthaya was, at one point, the second Siamese capital after Sukhothai. It was destroyed by the Burmese in the 18th century. All that remains of the old city are ruins and temples, and it seems like you can feel the air change as you enter the sacred spaces. Here are some highlights…
1. Ayutthaya Historical Park – Larger than life temples!
2. Wat Maha That – The famous Buddha head engulfed in tree roots. Nobody knows how it got there, but there are a few theories.
3. Wat Ratchaburana – We got to climb to the top from inside! Steep & a little claustrophobic but worth it.
4. Wat Lokayasutharam (aka a giant reclining Buddha) – Definitely awe-inspiring. We lit some incense and left a few flowers as an offering.
5. Wat Chaiwatthanaram at sunset –We met up with a two other gals from our program that evening. The five of us caught an amazing sunset, which led to many OMG-I’m-actually-in-Thailand moments.
That night we headed back to Soi 2 (the street our hostel was on, very popular with backpackers!) and grabbed dinner/ dessert at a local restaurant. After that, we got hour-long Thai massages on an outdoor loft overlooking a music venue, and listened to acoustic renditions of Western music. In such a foreign place it’s always comforting to hear familiar music. It was so relaxing, in fact, that Lauren and I both fell asleep during our massages, and our Thai masseuses thought it was hilarious.
The next morning we woke up early and had – dare I say it – the best breakfast I’ve had in Thailand. I know, I say that about every meal, but I’ve been missing real coffee so much. Here, everybody drinks instant (powdered) coffee, and it’s rare to find espresso! So I was in heaven eating my local fresh fruit with yogurt/ granola, and real coffee on the side.
We visited a few more beautiful temples after that, and beat all the crowds. Eventually we caught a van back to Bangkok and made a pitstop at Chatuchak Weekend Market. I think that’s becoming one of our favorite places, especially since it’s located right off the Mo Chit sky train station. We had a delicious lunch of garlic chicken on rice.
But the weekend wouldn’t be complete without, you guessed it – coconut ice cream. This time I tried coconut with Thai iced tea flavor, plus sticky rice (obviously).
I can’t help but feel so lucky to be here and to experience this culture, history, food, and of course the amazing people. Everybody I’ve met on my travels is so helpful and patient with me when I ask for directions in incomprehensible Thai, and for that I am eternally grateful! They make it not-so-scary to travel solo. As Cheryl Strayed put it, “The world and its people had opened their arms to me at every turn.”
Next stop: Phuket!
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