Pt 9 – Spacey Tuk Tuks, A Bucket of Turtles & The Ashes of Kings

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

I was half asleep when the attendant notified us that we were approaching our stop. As usual, Trevor slept just fine on the overnight sleeper train. This guys sleeps through earthquakes. No, really, he does. Myself on the other hand, I was sleep deprived. My eyes and skin felt like they were on fire and my head was foggy.

The attendant returned to direct us to the exit. I was concerned that he might toss us off the train when he opened the doors while the train was still in motion. We arrived in Ayutthaya around 4:30 am. Nothing was open yet, so we wandered aimlessly around the train station to kill some time.

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We walked out front to see a row of spacey-looking, colorful tuk tuks. A guy with weird hair who we suspected was partially drunk really wanted to drive us to our hostel, but wanted to charge us 100 Baht when the usual rate is 60. We passed it up and walked across the street to get some coffee. We also ordered some chicken skewers since we didn’t have dinner the night before. Trevor tossed a small scrap to a stray dog and it spit it back out. This had me questioning what the hell I was eating. Or maybe he was a vegan. Who knows.

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After arguing down the price to 60 Baht, we got a ride from a much more sober looking driver who dropped us off in front of our hostel. It wasn’t open for business yet, but we managed to sneak inside to suck up some WiFi while being attacked by mosquitoes. Once it was about 6:30, a hostel employee showed up and directed us to the cages in the back to drop off our luggage until it was time to check in at 2pm. We looked at the map on the front desk to find some points of interest nearby to explore.

The nearby marketplace was just opening up for the morning, so we wandered around to see all the delicious and disgusting things to eat, alive and dead. there was freshly butchered meats, colorful produce, and items that were still moving, like live crabs, snakehead fish, and frogs. I stared down sadly at a bucket of turtles struggling to get free.

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We had seen Wat Ratcha Burana when we were dropped off at our hostel nearby, so we walked back towards it to get a 250 Baht ticket for 6 temples, most of which I had planned on visiting anyway.

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Wat Ratcha Burana was tiny, and looked like it was in the middle of being restored, but there was another one right next to it, Wat Maha That, which had a Buddha head with a tree growing around it. Remembering the Buddha Etiquette sign I had seen in Chiang Mai, I made sure to crouch down to keep his head elevated above mine.

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We grabbed lunch across the street at “Coffee Old City”. I ate a very spicy Pad Kee Maw and Trevor got the Penang Curry Spaghetti. The heat of the food in Thailand is absolutely heavenly. Most of the food is very spicy, but not to the point of overwhelming the flavor.

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We took the long way to Wat Phra Ram by walking through Phra Ram Park. We tried to take a shortcut through an open field, but found ourselves on a peninsula surrounded by a moat. Two guys working on a photo session with another guy in traditional Chinese garb followed us in error, and we all had a laugh at our misdirection.

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Once we found ourselves going in the right way, we passed the Elephant Palace and several of its elephants lugging around tourists along the streets. We entered Wat Phra Ram which was very well preserved and detailed.

There was a sign that said “No Climbing”, but there were many people walking up and down the stairs of the Wat. I took a guess and figured this was the exception. I thought we were about to get yelled at when a security guard waved us down. Fortunately, he only wanted to make sure we had a ticket, then smiled and suggest we continue taking pictures and enjoying ourselves. I can’t emphasize enough how friendly Thai people are.

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Nearby there was a very pretty modern temple called Wiharn Phra Mongkhon Bophit. Inside was a large golden image of Buddha which has been restored on several occasions after being damaged twice by lightening strike and once by fire. Next door was Wat Phra Is Sampheth which has several huge bell-shaped buildings holding the ashes of former Kings.

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After returning to the hostel to check in, we found ourselves at “Ayuthaya Heritage Restaurant and Bar” to get drinks and to cool off from all the heat. We chatted with the two owners, Aom who was bartending and Steven, a Thai native who lived most of his life in Australia. We drank many beers and mojitos. Aom decided to mix up some random cocktail concoctions that turned out to be very good, but very strong. We somehow managed to stumble out of there, and found ourselves in a very darkly lit local restaurant where Trevor got Chicken Green Curry and I tried the Roast Duck Red Curry. The food was delicious, but all the drinks combined with a full belly had us wiped out.


Jump Back to Part 8: All Aboard the Night Train

Jump Ahead to Part 10: Coconuts, Soup & Stir-Fried Insects

OR

Start from the Beginning at Part 1: Mumbai to Chiang Mai

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