Cliff notes last four months: Took a job in Melbourne, lasted four months. Quit. Headed back towards Chiang Mai.
When in Bangkok for two nights (post-Melbourne) the initial plan was to head out to the floating markets on the outskirts of Bangkok and see what’s what. Asia is sweet with tours, turn up, book a tour and you can be away in a couple hours with a handful of other tourists. Unfortunately only a couple of the water markets are open mid week and the tours leave at 7am. With no back up plan (did not want to fail at it ourselves) we booked a trip to Ayutthaya temples.
Pro Tip: If you want to go to the floating markets in Bangkok, go on a weekend or book the night before!
The plan was to goto a few different temples and on a river cruise. Overall it was a great trip, with four temples in Ayutthaya to check out in total.
We were suppose to see a third before sunset – well so we thought. When we arrived it turns out it was an elephant farm -not cool. We were offered to ride the elephant as we exited the van (to the sounds of a baby elephant in distress being forced to perform tricks for ignorant tourists). Thankfully no one in our group put the elephants through the choir of carrying our fat bodies and we made a quick escape.
If you want to see elephants up close and personal, places like The Elephant Nature Park are the right channels to do so. Same goes with the ‘Tiger Kingdoms’ in Thailand, avoid them even if it means you don’t get ‘that profile pic’.
Wat Panan Choeng
The first stop. On the outside it was not appealing but once inside there was some great stuff going on. Our tour guide was very knowledgable and answered our questions regarding the art work on the walls (the demons would eat males but not the females!) and the differences between Chinese and Thai Buddhas. The longer someones ear lobes the longer life they are said to live and a large belly is a sign of wealth.
There was a 25m tall golden buddha. While we were there we witnessed people praying in front of the buddha. It was cool to see the rituals but to be honest, I cannot recall the true meaning.
Wat Yai Chai Mongkon
The next stop was more of a complex, with a lying down buddha and stupas. Most impressive was the structure surrounded by smaller buddhas as seen below. You could go up to the top and get a decent view of the grounds. The guide was not with us this time and not knowing what we were looking at made the experience less enjoyable for me.
Ayutthaya is a former capital city of Bangkok and a UNESCO world heritage site. A few centuries ago, they were protected by the river surrounding the province. At one point a massive fire roared through the city and destroyed the area. Much of which can be seen on the temples even today. An hour or so before sunset we headed to the river where we jumped on a traditional ‘quick’ boat and took off for 30 minutes or so. The most impressive thing I thought was the tug boats towing four massive platforms of sand each. The boat ride was awesome, definitely needs to be a part of every Ayutthaya itinerary.
After jumping off the boat, we turned up at a awesome place of temple ruins. The space was large with no real structure to the temple due to fire and wear/tear (from what I could gather). We spent around 45 minutes here – known as the sunset temple. There was the main structure which I managed to scale at the perfect time as the sky changed colours. By the time we left, the grounds were dark making for some wicked silhouette photos with all of the structures.
The final temple we visited was a quick but very different. It was a floating buddha head. The story was they stumbled across the buddha head but could never find the body. Over time the tree has grown around the head and lifted it off the ground. Very random, definitely would not want to be at this particular temple at night solo!
Most people tend to spend just a couple days in Bangkok before heading south to the beaches or north to the mountains. If you find yourself with a day or two to spare before leaving Thailand you can fit this in comfortably. We left Bangkok at 1.30pm from Khao San Road and returned around 8pm. Cost was 1300 baht (we could have found cheaper no doubt).