Our Latest Adventure: Ayutthaya By Train

ruins

Almost one year down, 3 more to go. With 2014 rapidly approaching, we realize we still have so much more to see and who knows if three years will be enough time. In trying to plan next year’s adventures with the Thai holidays and work schedules we realized we could go to Ayutthaya on a day trip during the weekend just to get out of the city and see something new.  We don’t have a car and rely solely on public transit.  My husband being the Clark Griswold he is… I mean adventurer that he is, decides we are taking the train!

Personally I hate trains. I am too impatient. I enjoy the ride on a train (TGV-nonstop) but it’s just as soon as you get going you are stopping at the next station and to me, it’s just annoying.  Nevertheless, we went by train for the adventure of it and because our son loves trains although he rarely sees them up close.

From Sukhumvit, we took the MRT to the final stop on the line, the train station Hua Lamphong. Once we arrived at the station we were bombarded by locals asking us “Where you go!?” “I take you there!” “Tuk tuk!?” “Taxi!?”  I have never known racial profiling until I moved to Bangkok, just because I am white doesn’t mean I am dumb and can be taken advantage of!

We go to purchase our tickets for the next train to Ayutthaya. For $1.30 USD all three of us were able to take an hour and half train ride to the old capital of Thailand. We get on the train and the locals are looking at us as if we are lost. Some laugh and say something to us in Thai probably to the effect of “What are you doing on here farang!? You don’t belong here!”  As we start our adventure, we get to see the “real” Bangkok.  The poverty that is indescribable, the metal siding that is being held up as a roof by four sticks with no walls and that is someone’s house, the kids playing amongst the piles of garbage, old men enjoying Sunday morning drinking their beer and grilling chicken and some of the most beautiful graffiti artwork I have ever seen.

We didn’t see many other farangs on this train and it started to make more sense towards the end of the trip. You know you aren’t in first class, when the is toilet paper that has just been flushed in the bathroom, comes flying through the train car because whatever you are flushing in the bathroom just hits the rails.  The dust and dirt that comes in from the open windows created a sticky film, which filled every pore on my skin, caked up my nose and made the shower that I took that morning completely pointless.  The seats were hard plastic benches and after an hour and half your butt is completely numb but in that early morning light and with a sense of adventure in our hearts none of this mattered.

We arrive at a small train station in Ayutthaya and again we are completely bombarded by the locals chasing us down asking us where we want to go.  We did decide to take a tuk tuk around for the day to ensure that we saw all that we had come to see.  This was ridiculously expensive at 900 baht but at the same time, it served its purpose.

We spent the day exploring the old ruins or ancient Thailand. I found it fascinating how they try to preserve the Buddha statues and even if there are only a few pieces of him left they will stack them back up the best they can to somehow resemble what he once looked like.  My favorite part of the trip was seeing one of the Buddha statues head overgrown by the tree trunk and roots.  You can see in my previous post the photos taken during our trip.  My second favorite part was the fried chicken and sticky rice from a local food cart, I swear the fried chicken here gives southern fried chicken a run for its money.  After a long day of exploring, we made it back to the train station and waited for our ride home. It was a wonderful experience, taking the train, the local food, the tuk tuk ride around town but it was a great experience to do once.  If I were to do it again, I would not take the train.  I would rent a car or I hear you can take a boat all the way there.  The boat idea sounds much better to me…

 

Travel Tips

  1. Stay hydrated and wear sunscreen. You are out in the elements all day so be sure to drink lots of water and protect your skin!
  2. If you leave early in the morning you can be back to Bangkok by the early evening.  You could make this an overnight trip and take a boat around the river to visit the wats along the water way.
  3. Do not make eye contact with the local children selling goods or you will be tackled. I learned this the hard way… I simply looked over to see what they were doing, they saw me look and came running over to me yelling in Thai. As they were showing me their handmade trinkets they started fighting over me and I couldn’t escape. All I could do was throw my hands in the air, continue walking through them and say “No! Go away!” Lucky for me, someone else looked over and they ran over to the next farang that made eye contact.
  4. If you want a real adventure, take the train! If you are looking for a cleaner more farang friendly option, drive yourself.
  5. Commission a tuk tuk at the train station, they are a part of a co-op that will take you to all the sites without making a stop at gem shop or somewhere you didn’t want to go.
  6. Bring baht with you. Most of the locations cost 50 baht per person to enter and walk around and I didn’t see any card machines to swipe your Mastercard. They also have audio tours and guidebooks for sale if you are interested in learning more.  
  7. Be respectful of the ruins! Don’t litter or take inappropriate pictures with Buddha, if you do that you are bound to get in trouble.
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