Day Trip to Ayutthaya

After my big sightseeing day in Bangkok last week, I decided to take a day trip outside of the city, to Ayutthaya. I didn’t know much about it to be honest (and still don’t, actually), but it came highly recommended from Mary, my friend teaching English in Thailand, and also from Grace, my new Thai friend who I had spoken to about it the day before. All I knew was that Ayutthaya was once a major capital city of Siam and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Ayutthaya is only about an hour and a half outside Bangkok and you can get there pretty easily by a minibus. I’ve come to understand that minibuses are a really simple and popular way for Thai people and tourists alike to get in and out of Bangkok and to various surrounding cities. Minibuses can be found at Victory Monument square, a gigantic, hustling and bustling spot in Bangkok and there’s a Skytrain stop there as well.

As this was my first time taking a minibus I wasn’t sure where to go or how things worked, naturally. Eventually I found the spot where the minibuses to Ayutthaya leave from. An unfriendly woman was selling tickets so I went up to her to buy one. She didn’t speak much English but communicated that it was 60 baht one way. When I went to pay, she pointed to the pad of paper she was holding that said “60 + 60 = 120” and basically said if I was planning on coming back to Bangkok I needed to pay the 120 baht for a round-trip ticket. I definitely wanted to come back so I shelled over the 120 baht and hopped on the bus. I didn’t get a receipt or anything but there are so many things about Thailand that are different than what I’m used to, I just figured this was probably normal and everyone on the bus must have gotten a round-trip ticket. The buses don’t leave until the bus is full, but it only took about 15 minutes for all the seats to be filled and we headed off.

When we arrived, we were dropped at this spot with a bunch of tuk-tuk drivers and taxi drivers hanging around, clearly waiting for us. I knew I would need some way of getting around as Ayutthaya has many interesting temples but they are scattered far apart. One man approached, me noticing that I was alone, and started talking to me about paying for 3-4 hours and driving me around in a tuk-tuk. He even showed me this notebook he had where apparently some English-speaking tourist had written him a rave review in English about what a great time he had in Ayutthaya. I was skeptical that it was a real review but figured why not just go with this guy? When I agreed to his rate, a man in the SUV parked next to us hopped out and opened the back door of his car for me. Confused, I asked “no tuk-tuk?” as that’s what I thought we had agreed upon. And I also thought I’d be going around with the guy I’d been speaking with. He assured me the car would be better because it has air conditioning. In the end I decided to roll with the punches. While the idea of getting into an unmarked SUV with a strange man offering to show me around Boston would sound like an unsavory idea, as I learned the day before on the motorbike taxis, things are just different here. Something I would consider terrifying at home is perfectly normal in Thailand. While I certainly don’t intend to get into cars with strangers on a regular basis, I was glad that everything  turned out fine… And it was actually a really nice day! My driver was very kind and even bought me a bottle of water at one point during the day!

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Sneaky picture I got of my driver and his car

The man spoke almost no English but would point out to me on a map where we would be going to before he headed there. I pretty much never knew any history behind any of the temples. Even the informational placards at the sites never provided much information. They would describe the physical appearance or design of the monument/temple/statue, but I never once could find any information on how old the structures were! So for that reason I was a total blank slate and could only take things at face-value.

As I don’t have much commentary on any of the places I visited, I’ll just include some photos of each place!

Wat Yai Chai Mongkol

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Wat Phanan Choeng

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This was a very busy and functioning temple that housed a gigantic golden Buddha. I couldn’t get anywhere near it to see the whole thing because it was so packed with worshippers!

 

Wat Chaiwatthanaram

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This one was my favorite! I was essentially alone on the site, with a handful of other tourists scattered around. I wanted to know the history of this place but sadly there wasn’t much information available. It was just so magnificent!

Between the heat, my own sweat, and sunscreen, my camera lens seems to have gotten a little smudged over the course of the day! Hence the weird fuzzy brightness in the middle of most of my photos… my bad.

Wat Lokkayasutharam

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This one is another reclining Buddha statue. Like the other one I saw, it was pretty massive!

 

Wat Phu Khao Thong

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This one I visited at the hottest part of the day and ended up climbing a lot of very steep stairs to get to the viewing ledge. It was worth it though – Great views of the surrounding rural area!

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6. Wat Phra Sri Sanphet

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This one was a great finale to the day. I only had thirty minutes to explore so I felt a bit rushed trying to see the huge complex and get some nice photos. But wow – it was really spectacular!

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I happened to overhear an English-speaking tour guide telling some other tourists that based on this Buddha’s appearance and style, it was most likely made around the 16th century (I think that’s what he said!). Anyway, they believe the head fell off the statue somehow and had just been laying on the ground for ages until this tree’s roots picked it up over time. Very cool!

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That was all for Ayutthaya! My driver (I like the sound of that) drove me back to the spot where I was to pick up the minibus back to Bangkok. I got on the bus and waited for the bus to fill (only about 10 minutes). Then the bus driver asked for the 60 baht for the trip back to Bangkok. I watched as everyone else handed over their money. When he got to me I told him I already paid. He looked at me blankly. I said, “I paid 120 baht for a round trip. The woman told me I needed to pay 120 for a round-trip. I already paid…” I was starting to anticipate what was about to happen next but there was an English speaking German man on the bus who condescendingly confirmed for me that I had been scammed and that they don’t sell round-trip tickets for the minibus. Fuming, I handed over the 60 baht.

Even though I knew going into it that things like this were going to happen to me in Thailand, I was still really angry on principle. I was angry at the lack of fairness and that no one even cared. And I felt stupid. But how was I supposed to know they didn’t sell round-trip tickets? I think I just wished I had someone there with me to complain to about it, but I was alone. Luckily I got over it in about 20 minutes and decide to move on. I looked up the conversion rate once I was back to my hostel and on wifi… turns out 60 baht is equal to about $1.65 USD 🙂

I hope that woman really enjoyed the 60 baht!

 

For more information on the history of Ayutthaya, here is a very quick video I found! I figured this will explain it better than I could!

Comments

  1. Kristen
    January 28, 2016 / 9:48 AM

    Your photos are incredible Annie! I love the vibrant gold scarfs on the sculptures – so beautiful. Scrolling through your post in awe at my desk. Your experience with the woman scamming you on the round trip ticket reminds me of my experience taking the bus to Foxwoods, mine isn’t nearly as exotic.

  2. Maria Nagle
    January 28, 2016 / 1:45 PM

    Hi Annie, we are all really enjoying reading about your trip. From the anticipation of you getting into cars alone with strangers to laughing at 60 baht being less than us$2.00. Your trip sounds amazing and Abby and Emma are having great fun laughing at me trying to pronounce the names of the temples. Look forward to reading more exploits soon. Enjoy every minute,Lots of love, Maria, Tony, Jack, Abby and Emma xx

  3. Annie
    January 28, 2016 / 9:53 PM

    I’m so glad you guys are enjoying it and it’s great to hear from you! To be honest, I wouldn’t know how to pronounce the names of the temples either so your guess is as good as mine! 🙂 Sending love to everyone in Limerick!

  4. Annie
    January 28, 2016 / 9:56 PM

    LOL so glad you’re enjoying the blog!! I didn’t know you got scammed on the Foxwoods bus… I’ll have to hear that story when I get home!

  5. Brian
    January 29, 2016 / 6:43 AM

    Its difficult to know when, or if, you are being scammed. In a very different country like this, many things, like getting into the back of that unmarked SUV may seem like a scam. I remember from my trip to Lisbon, how nice (some) people were with tourists/American’s. We had to bring a friend to the airport, and on the way back to the boat, the taxi driver shut off the meter and gave us a personal tour of his city. The scenery here looks like you are living in an Indiana Jones movie, but the names of the places sound like they are from Star Wars.

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