The Ancient Cities of Northern Thailand (part une)
After the debauchery of Bangkok, we headed for more cultural climes. To Northern Thailand we went, on the train (15 baht per person 3rd class) from Hua Lumpong station to the ancient former capital city of Ayutthaya, about 1.5 hrs away. Ayuthaya is pretty small, and most guesthouses are concentrated on the charmingly nicknamed 'Soi Farang' which basically means Foreign street. There's a lot of good value places, some with pools, but we plumped for a four bed dorm at Toto Guesthouse . Great value at 600 baht total -- great clean room with a private bathroom and air con! We also hired motorbikes through them for temple spotting the following day which cost 200 baht over bike. (Petrol should only cost you 30 for the whole day as it's not far at all).
Ayutthaya has an interesting history, being the former capital of Thailand (then Siam) but being sacked after the Burmese invaded in the 18th century. As such, the temples are mostly in ruins -- but all the more beautiful for it. Three of my highlights;
Wat Phra Ram Pra Monghkon Bophit Wat Mahathat
After the temple spotting (which can be pretty full on) we ventured to the floating market which the locals nickname Disneyland.........
You can also ride elephants (as I did in my first visit over 5 years ago) but now knowing how elephants are trained to do this I would never ride one again. They are trained as babies in a process called phajaan or the crush. There's a reason elephants are so big and that's so humans can't jump on their backs and ride them! Admire them from afar instead. If you're not convinced, and still want your cheesy pic riding an elephant in Chiang Mai, read this.
Off my soap box now. Ayutthaya is gorgeous, and you can easily get around the whole place in a day trip, which lots of people do, but I'd recommend staying for a night for the gorgeous atmosphere. The night markets are great too and as ever, we ate pretty well! We've been exploring Sukothai today, which in my opinion, is even better so watch this space as a post is on it's way!