Saturday, January 14, 2012

Thailand (2011): Ahytthaya


Located about 75 km from Bangkok, Ayutthaya, the former capital of the country, is a place just suitable for a one-day trip. We go there on Monday, December 5th, in the monring. We return in the evening. We watch visit the ruins of what's remained of the former grandness of the Thai empire. Until late we weren't sure if we'd be able to make this trip as this year's flood hit Ayutthaya hardly. However, local authorities with the help of the central government as well as many volunteers managed to tidy up the area. No wonder, after all, it's one of the most visited by tourists places.

Reimains of the old capital were in 1991 inscribed as the World Cultural and Natural Heritage of the Humanity by UNESCO. However, the state doesn't care much for it, in 2008 UNESCO threatened Thailand that they would delete the place from the list. Guidebook advise to go to Sukhotai which was once too a capital. However that town lies several hundred miles from Bangkok, that's why we pragmatically decide to choose Ayutthaya which lies much closer.
On the train first surprise – we have tickets referred to „standee” and even though there are seats free, a conductor tells us to stand. At the train station in Bangkok a man at the cashier didn't warned us that there weren't seats available, we could have chosen another train. Not that I am week or delicate but standing for half an hour in a stuffy trains is not the pleasanest thing. You have to be careful no to stick to something. Earlier I saw such dirty and seedy trains only in Poland.

On the way there we pass the flooded areas between Bangkok (including Don Mueang airport) and Ayutthaya. Everywhere there are dozens of pumps running at full speed to keep up with pumping the water. During our stay the water still flows from the upper areas to the Gulf of Thailand. Fortunately, Ayutthaya was supposed to be completely drained at the time of our journey, we read the news on the official website of the public relations departmanet of the Thai government.

Remains of the past grandness have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List

Good to know

*The best way to get from Bangkok to Ayyuthaya is by traing. From Hualamphong train station there are many connections. The journey takes one and a half hour. A second-class ticket costs 20 THB per person.
*You can also get there by bus. They go frequently from the North Terminal (Mochit Bus Terminal). The journey takes about two hours.

Ferry to Ayutthaya center
*To get to the center of Ayutthaya, and farther to the most attractive for tourists places, you need to take a ferry through the river, cost: 2 THB. Then you can take a tuk-tuk (300 THB per hours), rent a bike (40-50 THB per day, or go on foot – about 30 minutes.
*Entries to the complexes cost 30 THB (each). We are lucky to visit them for free as the day we go there is the King's Birthday (December 5 – remember the date!).


*Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre – daily 9.00-16.30; admission: 100 THB; models presenting town's development, multimedia presentations, good starting point before exploring the ruins
*there is a small lake Phra Ram in the center and a park bearing the same name, around which there are several most important temples; heading west from the pond you can visit all the monuments
*Wat Phra Si Sanphet and Wang Lang palace – temple build in the fourteenth century is one of the best maintained monument in the town, of the palace only the ruins remain; 8.30-17.30
*Wat Phra Mahathat – the center of the holy city, built in the fourteenth century; in ruins; 8.30-17.30
*Wat Ratchaburana – on the opposite side of Phra Mahathat, the best preserved prang on the island, from fifteenth century; 8.30-17.30
*Wiharn Phra Mongkon Bopit – next to Wat Phra Si Sanphet, the temple with the most worshipped Buddha image; Mon-Fri 8.30-16.30, Sat-Sun 8.30-17.30
*Wat Na Phra Meru (Phra Mehn) – the best preserved temple; the only that survived the destruction of the town; 8.30-16.30

After visiting several complexed we decide that it's enough and it's time to return. We pass through a local market and stop for a delicious lunch in the restaurand just next to the ferry. At the train station it turns out that the trains are delayed. We read earlier that because of the flooding some delays may occur. We'll go two hours laters than planned, on another train. And what about our tickets? They are valid – a clerk at the counter tells us.

The journey continues without interruption. The worst part starts when we arrive to Bangkok. The train stops at every intersection and has to wait a couple of minutes. It seems nothing but there are quite many intersections here. Passing through the suburbs themselves took over an hour! What a strange system. Moreover we don't know what's happening because no one announces anything and even if they did we wouldn't have understood a thing in Thai. But if other passengers remain quiet, we also try to be calm...

Read also:
Thailand (2011): Intro
Thailand (2011): Bangkok
Thailand (2011): Pattaya
Thailand (2011): Koh Samet


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