From Bangkok to Ayutthaya - Alvinology

From Bangkok to Ayutthaya

This blog entry should have been up a lot time ago, haha. During our trip to Bangkok two years ago, a tour of the ancient city of Ayutthaya was initiated by Rachel’s persistence and insistence that we should venture out of the city area and explore Greater Bangkok.

arrival via cab
Pink cabs!

So on Friday morning, (thankfully it was not raining), four of us (Rachel’s aunt, grandmother, herself and me) piled into a hot pink cab and set off for Hump-Along – oops I mean, Hualamphong Railway Station.

Cabs are plentiful in urban Bangkok, and the fare is about the same as four adults taking the local MRT, so we actually save money instead when we travel by cab.

Upon alighting, we see a booth emblazoned with the English words “Tourist Information Centre” and gratefully proceed to ask for English instructions on catching a train to Ayutthaya.

help!
“I didn’t go to university to tell pesky tourists how to take a train to Ayutthaya.”

The two ladies there are conversant in English – a huge relief as the lingua franca in Thailand is Thai and we tend to shun any touristy places that catered to ang mohs. We had plenty of trouble communicating with hotel staff as it was, and to complicate matters, Thai has a numeral system and locally it is used as widely as Arabic numerals.

I wonder how much education these ladies received in order to have attained their fluency in English. I can totally imagine a thought bubble rise in the air as one of them flipped out a train timetable to stop Rachel from badgering her:

“I didn’t go to university to tell pesky tourists how to take a train to Ayutthaya.”

train schedules
Unreadable timetable in Thai

Fortunately, the times on the timetable are written in Arabic numerals. All of the station names, however, save those popular with tourists, like Ayutthaya, were written in Thai.

train station
Is Eric Tseng hiding somewhere?

Doesn’t the interior of the station remind of one of the scenes in Infernal Affairs 《无间道》Eric Tseng (曾志伟)‘s mob boss character was gunshot in that scene.

helpful station guide
“A for Apple…”

A friendly station guide was there to help us with the timetable and explained which train we should board. The 11.20am train would take us to the ancient city of Ayutthaya by 1.04pm.

asking for tickets
“Hey… look here lei!”

We bought four normal class tickets, each costing only 60 baht (S$3).

inside train station
“Is the train here yet?”

The vast train station thronged with people waiting for their trains. Despite the high human traffic, the station, including its toilets, are very clean. Cleaner than Singapore’s shopping centre toilets and Malaysia’s legendary Yong Peng toilets combined.

train tickets
How to understand what is written on the ticket when everything is in Thai?
helpful train guides
The helpful guides

Our helpful station guides are just hovering nearby to help. Our train will arrive at Platform 7.

train station tv ads
Thai music video

There’s a giant LCD screen playing Thai music videos to keep us entertained while waiting for the train. I reckon the Thai singers are very attractive, with distinctive Pan-Asian look that appeals to both Asians and ang mohs alike.

backpackers
Ninja turtles

A horde of backpackers trundle by, all carrying 15-20ltr backpacks. I won’t be surprise if you manage to find a chopped up human body hiding inside one of these giant backpacks.

buying pomelo
The fruits connoisseur

Rachel’s grandmother delights in finding something that would busy her for some part of the journey: fresh pomelo. The little old lady is harder to keep track of than Where’s Wally and is barely interested in almost anything, but when she does slow down to pay attention to something, she’s in this pose – hands folded behind her, back slightly hunched, standing to an angle and peering over her nose.

delicious pomelo
Pink flesh!

The pomelo is the red-fleshed variety! Very sweet and yummy! You have to salute the old folks, they still know it best when it comes to picking the best fruits.

washing train
A young boy cleaning the train with a weird looking cart
Ovaltine ad
Ovaltine!
railway train
The train is here! All aboard!

all onboard

Bangkok’s trains are not just on time – they arrive early to wait for passengers too. There’s even enough time for pesky tourists like us to pose for cheesy photos like the one above.

in a train
Another look at the train
interior of train
Looking for comfortable seats
kids looking out of the window
“Hey kids, don’t stick your heads out of the window!”

On our way back it’s harder to find seats for all to sit together as it is burdened with evening peak hour commuters. These children were sitting beside us, looking out of the window at a man changing the red flag to green.

thai twin tower
Old hotel we passed by along the way
kids on train
excited kids
fishing
some kids fishing near a pond we passed by
sammo hung
Sammo Hong pretending to be a train conductor
station master
Red flag for communism
colourful buses
colourful tour buses
grass
the railway track while our train is moving
cars stop for train
Motor vehicles stopping for the train to pass
jaywalkers
Jaywalking across the railway tracks

We finally reached our station after a few hours. Modern day Ayutthaya looks very sleepy and the place was infested with tourist touts, capitalising on the city’s past glories for tourism dollars. We decided to rent a tuk tuk to travel around as it was cheaper than a cab. There didn’t seem to be other mode of cheaper public transportation around.

A dog
Bored dog
boarding a tuk tuk
Getting on the tuktuk

Following that, it was ancient ruins after ancient ruins; Buddhist temples after Buddhist temples. I will let the photos speak for themselves. What I got from the trip: Ayutthaya used to be one of the most powerful kingdom in the world and that the kingdom’s rulers follow Theravada Buddhism, a religion still dominant in today’s Thailand.

gateway
An arch
pointy wats
pointy Wats
thai doll
A small Siam doll I spotted, perched on one of the Buddha statue
gold buddha
A dressed up Buddha statue with fresh offerings
above a wat
steep stairs up one of the Wats
small gold buddha
a small Buddha statue
hidden aircon
Curious sight of an aircon unit stuck inside ancient ruins
nice wall
nice wall and plant
praying
Devotees
fat buddha
Fat Buddha guarded by two pigs
small buddhas
Oriental looking Buddha statues
headless buddha
headless Buddha statues
church not temple
signboard for tourists
buddha growing plants
giant fingers
row of buddhas
long row of Buddha statues
buddha offerings
small Buddhism ornaments perched on a large Buddha statue
buddha sleeping
deep in thought
ingots
gold, silver and bronze bricks
sleeping buddha
The famous giant sleeping Buddha statue
signboard warning of a dog
Vagabond dog!
vagabond dog
Is this the vagabond?
what's this?
Buddha’s hair looks like thousands little grapes
the feet
Golden toenails
the head
Face a bit dirty…
baby buddha?
old lady arrange offerings
ancient wat
ancient ruins
wat
more ruins
wat again
dark sky + ruins
buddha head
decapitated Buddha
hiding buddha
serene look
more bricks
stack them all up
wat with plants
red bricks and concrete decors
another wat
wide view
don't steal the buddha head
Do not steal the Buddha heads
scary wat
gloomy Ayutthaya
Brave ang moh tourist
sexy uncle in white hot pants
buddha head in tree
Buddha head stuck among tree roots
Buddha in a tree
closer look
rocks
rocky path
well
ancient well

That’s it. 🙂 Pardon the rather chaotic rambling and the photos which are not entirely in chronological order. The trip was really too long ago lah. In any case, our verdict on Ayutthaya is that it’s one of those touristy attractions that you will probably visit only once. Not that the city’s history and heritage are not interesting, rather, there’s only that many Buddha temples and ancient ruins you can visit it before they all starts to look the same (unless if you are an archeologist or historian of course).

Technorati Tags: greater bangkok, ayutthaya, thailand tourism, ayutthaya ancient city, hualamphong railway station, thailand railway station, thai railway, tuk tuk, theravada buddhism, buddhist temples, buddhist wats, thai wats, thai ancient city, thai ancient ruins, buddhist statue heads, sleeping buddha, giant sleeping buddha, buddha in tree, buddha in roots

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