Train to Ayutthaya
„Ayutthaya no number no seat!“ The conductor hands me back my ticket and repeats it to the tourist in the seat across from me: “Ayutthaya no number no seat!”
What he means is that we don’t get seats assigned, the ride is too short. But we are indeed allowed to sit here.
I started at quarter to seven this morning, with taxi and skytrain to Hua Lamphong, the train station in Bangkok from where I only knew the train to Ayutthaya would leave every hour – when exactly, I didn’t know. I’m following the description in a blog I read and am just trusting in Thailand – and as always, things do work out. As I reach the ticket selling counter, the woman points the way to track eleven and says: “Three minutes.”
I’m one hour ahead of my estimate. The train is basically like a German train: full, hot, late, and every couple of minutes, somebody wants to sell you coffee. Instead of broken ACs, though, this one has working fans. Two hours later, we arrive in Ayutthaya, and after refilling my water bottle for free, I have to face all the tour guides. No thank you, I just want to explore in peace!
In Nong Chok, I saw another farang this time. We passed each other in the park and another time in a restaurant. Here, I am surrounded by other foreigners. Ayutthaya was the second capital of what was then still called Siam, from 1351 to1767, after Sukhothai and before Bangkok.
But finally, I find a tuk-tuk driver who agrees to just dropping me off at the main temple ruin, instead of driving me around all day.
I stand in front of Wat Maha That and breathe. The area is big enough for the tourists to spread, even though in addition to the foreigners, there are also quite a lot of weekend visitors from Bangkok. This temple was, as many others, destroyed in the war against the Burmese, and most of the heads of Buddha statues have been stolen. One of the heads ended up near a tree and is now grown into the roots – making it one of the main attractions of the town.
Back on the street, I have to fight a new wave of tour guides who tell me it is way too hot to go by bike, but I rent one anyone. Ayutthaya is small enough to be discovered by bike, and this way, I can stop wherever I want. Temple ruins can’t only be found in the historical park, but also in the residential areas, behind construction sites and pretty much at every corner. These hidden temples are no less beautiful, but very peaceful sanctuaries!
The Wat Rachaburana is another one of the main sights of the UNESCO world heritage, and apparently, many photos for Instagram are taken here.
The Wat Phra Ram, again, I have all to myself.
|Wat Phra Ram|
The muesum, too, except for two twelve-year-old boys who watch the info-video with me and sell me imaginary coffee out of one of the exhibits.
And back to the masses again: The Wat Si Sanphet is considered the most important temple of the city, located right next to the royal palace.
I cycle through the city, along the river, past the market, have a very late lunch in a vegan restaurant and to a temple that is still in use: Wat Thammikarat. A new building was built next to the ruin, and the reclining Buddha has also gotten new housing. A monk refills my bottle with drinking water and one of the women who sell incense sticks and flowers for sacrifice apparently feels sorry for me being alone, as she shows me how to put sacrifice the incense sticks and insists on taking photos of me.
And in Bangkok, it turns out I’ve gotten better in bargaining. I can’t find a motorbike taxi near the train station, only tuk-tuks, and they want to drive me for twice the price I paid in the morning. So I laugh at them and keep walking – and indeed, one of them follows me and gives in: “Ok, ok, 100 baht!” There we go!