We took a day trip to Ayutthaya…for the kids! We jumped on a morning train with the hope of completing the trip in a day. You’d think by now, we’d realize that train schedules are rough guidelines not actual arrival/departure times. We made it to the city with about three hours until our scheduled return trip. Our casual bike ride quickly became the Tour de Ayutthaya.
We made sure to visit the National Museum in Bangkok so we could actually understand the importance of Ayutthaya. Essentially, it was the heart of the kingdom of Thailand prior to Bangkok, consisting of an island with beautiful parks and rivers and stupas everywhere. While it was cool to explore a city surrounded by water (had to take a suped-up car engine turned ferry boat to get there), today there is not much left of it. The Burmese, unfortunately, sacked and burned the city and the temples, in most cases, are in shabby condition. And, to be honest, it was hard to visit AFTER seeing Angkor Wat.
We rented bikes, got a pretty unhelpful tourist map and tried to get to all the major spots before the afternoon train. The “most photogenic” of the Wats was Wat Chaiwatthanaram, but it was a much longer (than it looked on a map) and more strenuous bike ride (due to time constraints) than we expected.
Our visit to Wat Phra Ram was hilarious. We took a gorgeous photo of the site, and then we decided it would be an excellent redshirt picture. We offered to take a photo for a woman traveling alone with the hopes she would be able to return the favor.
In her first attempt, she kind of missed the point. We were hoping to get the redshirts IN the picture.
So we asked if she would take another one…and she did, with different, but not better results. Sometimes, I wonder how sad it is for people when they get home and realize their entire photo album is filled with “not quite right” pictures…man, I wish we were still traveling with Ella!
Ayutthaya was a nice escape from the craze of Bangkok, but it’s hard having seen sooo much around the world. We have to keep reminding ourselves that traveling is not a competition…we just need to be open and try to take in as much as we can with a blank slate. But after so many vivid experiences and almost 400 days abroad (550+ of total travel), it takes a lot to impress us. It’s challenging to see something without comparing it to others (oh, it’s nice but not as detailed or as big or…). Ayutthaya is historically important, but lacked some of the luster and artistic detail we noticed at other temples in Thailand and Cambodia.
We made it back to the train station just in time to catch the 10:30 AM train departing at 2:45 PM. How does that happen on an hour and a half train ride? We re-entered the city limit with just enough time to do an important task…mail a huge box of stuff home so we didn’t have to carry it with us! We planned to meet a family member for one last hand-off, but plans changed, so we sent all our precious (except when I looked inside the contents resembled a random junk drawer) souvenirs home. It’s going by ship. Should arrive in 3 MONTHS! So hopefully, we see the items again. It’s nerve-wracking to put our trust in the Thailand post, but damn, my backpack feels SO GOOD right now!