Ayutthaya–it’s easier to pronounce than you might think…

10 Feb

In fact, it’s pretty much pronounced ‘u-tay-ya’ with a very silent ‘ai’ at the beginning.

So, a slow, cramped, hot train journey to start with… enlivened somewhat by the ‘Monks Zone’ at the train station (not sure what happens if you sit there by accident) and the Thai equivalent of the at seat trolley service (a never ending parade of people selling everything from water to beer, satays and unidentifiable foodstuffs.

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Eventually we get off at Ayutthaya station, after a brief attempt to get off one stop early is thwarted by the locals, who are pretty certain that I don’t want to get off at Bang-Pa-In.  We’re met by the Aytthaya version of the tuk-tuk, which has metamorphosed into a Daihatsu three wheeler with 6 seats.

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After a brief stop at the hotel, we are whisked off on whistlestop tour of the main sites in Aytthaya, including a very impressive reclining Buddha, and a large number of Buddha statues around the temple. I am now starting to know my prang from my wiharn and my wat from my chedi (not to mention knowing my chofah from my ubosoth) – basically, modern day Ayutthaya has been built in the wreckage of the previous capital of Siam (Thailand) after it was sacked in the war with Burma. The old temples (wats) litter the town, with every street corner turning up a new pagoda in a wild number of styles from Burmese to traditional Thai to Khmer. The town is now (and rightly so) a UNESCO heritage site.

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As well as the temples, we stopped off to say ‘hello’ to the elephants…..

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…and the tigers…

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…and uncovered this entirely appropriate Buddha resting in the roots of a bodhi tree.

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I’ve got to say, I have completely lost track of which temple is wat (Thai joke)

Finally, we end up in the night market – having found some food that we can identify and tried some that we can’t, it’s back to the hotel…(I think we were on vegetable tempura, fishcakes, pork satays and omelette – and whatever the Thai for ‘Foo Yung’ is (personally I don’t care – but it was brilliant). All of them seem to come with a little bag of chilli sauce. Each food purchasing transaction seems to consist of a worried vendor concerned that the food is ‘spicy’ and a wildly nodding grinning Englishman who is concerned that it might not be.

The hotel walk isn’t quite as easy as I thought, and we find ourselves lost in town with no real idea of where we are – eventually hailing a tuk tuk who takes us on a wild ride to justify his 100 baht before dropping us off around 100 yards from where we hailed him. Who cares, it’s one of the best £2 I have ever spent.

A gentle start to the morning, but it’s soon hard work on a pair of squeaky bicycles (one of which has a collapsible saddle, which could prove nasty). Tigger and Snuff are of course as keen to see the city as we are, and so take their rightful place in the basket, much to the amusement of the locals. We sail past a plethora of noodle purveyors (with some surprising colours) as well as a further supplier of shrink wrapped Buddhas, as well as little street corner shrines, and plastic coated roosters. We have no idea about the roosters. Or the zebra, which just seem spurious.

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After yesterday’s temple shock, we have no desire to visit another ruined temple, and so we cycle around town watching the people, the traffic, and the temples. An early coffee stop at ‘1st Cake’ turns into a second coffee stop at the same place after cycling round the island to end up outside the same supplier of caffeinated beverages.

Cycling in Thailand has its own set of dangers, including the fact that the motorcycles (of which there are a large number) also ride on the pavements – or the wrong way up the street. Every motorist ignores someone on a bicycle too.

Eventually we end up at the monument to King Naraesuan monument, where there are literally hundreds of the inexplicable cockerels –

 

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and a final beautiful pagoda built in Thai style on top of a Burmese base – inside the top of the pagoda is a tiny shrine with the perfectly reasonable request not to light incense inside…

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And back to the hotel for a game of Uno. Next stop… Sukhotai. More temples await us….

Footnote 1 – according to our Thai guidebook, King Naresuan was the inventor of the rotary spit, as shown in the picture being held in his right hand. The cockerels pay homage to the invention of roast chicken, and apparently there is a small shrine to Naresuan in every Nandos restaurant.

Footnote 2 – not everything in this blog may be completely factual

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One Response to “Ayutthaya–it’s easier to pronounce than you might think…”

  1. carole February 10, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

    Ahhhhh it brings back so much memory…… Now really gutted I didn’t get to see the tigers though.

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