We stayed up late writing our last blog post in Bangkok. The plan was to do the post, get a solid nights sleep and leave for Ayutthaya in the morning. The plan went a little too well. I woke up, checked my watch and asked Rach “What time do we check out”?, to which i received a sleepy yet panicked “NOW”! We were due to check out at 11am. We woke up at 11am.
We jumped out of bed, luckily we had packed the night before and grabbed our bags. We got an Uber while we still had WiFi and headed straight for the Mo Chit Bus Station where we were going to get a bus to Ayutthaya. We left the apartment with haste. We didn’t have time for breakfast or a shower and we had to miss the Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok because we had all of our luggage with us and it was too hot, too heavy and too big to carry around one of the biggest markets in the World.
The Uber took 30 minutes or so. We got to the bus station and were presented with 4 stories with 20+ booths per storey. Each booth was a bus going to a different location. At first it looked a bit daunting. We asked at the information desk and they said to go to “Number 18, on the ground floor”. We scuttled into the elevator and made our way to booth 18.
As soon as we got to the booth, we were told that the bus was leaving now and to follow the driver. We grabbed our bags and followed the driver into a full mini van. We had no space and it was very hot but it was very cheap! There was no waiting around but Rach was sat next to a fat frenchman who was soaked to the skin with sweat and smelt like her feet on a bad day (her words, not mine). Luckily, we were in Ayutthaya before we knew it.
We jumped into a cab straight from the bus and arrived at the hotel within a few minutes. Our hotel was in a brilliant location. The Wat Mahathat ruins were directly opposite our hotel. We stayed in Hotel Sixty. The room was a lot more basic than what we had in Bangkok but the location much better. We went straight out after checking in, ate food at a restaurant two doors down and visited Wat Mahathat.
The ruins were amazing. I felt like Jean Claude Van Damme in the movie Kickboxer, one of my childhood favourites. We walked until our feet were sore. At one point we were walking down a path looking for an ATM machine, when out of the bushes in front of us appeared a big lizard which we both believed was a Komodo Dragon. It was so big that it held up the traffic as it crossed the road into the public park. It turns out it was an Asian water monitor. Nothing to be too afraid of but they do kill dogs…
We saw many other ruins and a beautiful sunset. We were then looking at the map to get our bearings when we were approached by a friendly, camp Chinese man named “Ken”. I didn’t get a photo of Ken but if you have seen the movie ‘The Hangover’, he looked and sounded just like Chow.
After our incidents in Bangkok we were wary of any friendly strangers but it turns out Ken was just a nice guy that was trying to improve his English, which was already excellent. Ken showed us where the night market was and then walked us back to our apartment before giving us a very flamboyant goodbye which included vigorous jazz hands.
We quickly got changed and went to the night market. The night market in Ayutthaya was much more laid back to what we had experienced in Bangkok. In fact, Ayutthaya as a whole, is so much more relaxed than Bangkok. There were no Tuk Tuk drivers trying to scam us, no vendors were pestering us at the market, even after we walked up and down it 4 times.
We grabbed some street food. Rachel’s street food tasted very strong of lemon grass and had more bones than chicken in and the spice nearly blew her face off but I really enjoyed my food. I played it safe with some chicken and rice again.
We had a good nights sleep. It was the most we had slept since landing in Thailand and nearly missed checkout again. We were only staying in Ayutthaya for one night.
We both felt a bit deflated in the morning as we felt a bit rushed to check out. We also needed cash and internet. We split up for the first time since arrival. One person needed to look after the bags while the other found an ATM. I left Rach at the restaurant near our hotel. She used the WiFi to find transport for an overnight bus to Chiang Mai and I went in search for a cash machine. On my return, we grabbed some food in the restaurant and the mood dipped a little. We both fell in love with Ayutthaya and felt like it had a lot more to offer us but we had all of our luggage and didn’t quite know what to do.
We decided between us that it would be best to get to the Ayutthaya bus station to sort out the transport for the overnight bus. We were literally walking to a Tuk Tuk rank so we could get to the bus station with our bags, when we stumbled upon a travel agent who sorted our overnight bus to Chiang Mai, our transport to the bus station, held our bags for us and gave us bicycles and a lock for the day.
The bikes were 40B each, which is about 75p to rent for an entire day! We paid for a VIP bus, which had more room and reclining chairs so we could sleep. It also included food, drinks and a toilet. The overnight bus from Ayutthaya to Chiang Mai was an 8 hour journey and set us back £18 each. Very good value for money.
The next thing we knew, we were riding bicycles around Ayutthaya, with the biggest smiles on our faces. We recommend hiring bicycles in Ayutthaya. It is the best way to get around to see the sights. You may think that cycling in heat is hard work but I found it easier than walking. At least there was a slight breeze as you cycled. We ate in some amazing places, saw some more amazing ruins, one of which was Wat Ratchaburana. This was a famous ruin where you climb down some steep steps into an ancient crypt which contains ancient murals. It’s worth checking out if you are there.
We also rode our bicycles past some elephants, which was absolutely amazing and one of the most surreal experiences of both our lives. There we were, on our bicycles in Ayutthaya, ancient ruins at one side and elephants on the other. They were so close that you could literally touch them.
We rode around for hours, we saw all of the sights that we wanted to see. We initially set off on our bikes at about 2pm. We got back to the travel agent for 7pm and handed our bikes back. The taxi to the bus station wasn’t due until 8pm so went over the road and grabbed some food and another smoothie. I’m making it a thing to try a smoothie everywhere I go in Thailand. The fruit over here is so fresh and the smoothies are so tasty and refreshing. I even got Rach to try one and she enjoyed it!
The taxi came, we had a short journey to the bus station and had to wait an hour and a half for our 10pm bus. The bus station was pretty chilled. We both took out our journals and done a bit of writing. We also played some cards to pass the time. Rach then realised that she had the bike lock tied around her waist and the key around her wrist. We had no way to get it back to the travel agent. We felt awful but we left it at the bus station so somebody probably bagged themselves a free bike lock the following day.
The bus arrived pretty much bang on 10pm. Our experience of the public transport in Thailand thus far, is that it is very efficient. Everything just works.
The bus journey was great. Better than either of us had expected. The seats were large and very spacious. The food was good. I had a few cases of sleep paralysis and many vivid dreams but I had a solid sleep nonetheless and the 8 hour journey seemed to go over quicker than our initial flights to get to Thailand.
We arrived in Chiang Mai in very good time, we arrived about 6.30 am. We felt refreshed and ready to see what Chiang Mai had to offer.
Luck seems to be on our side.
Craig and Rach x