Ayutthaya (Feb 23): Multiple Temples and a Night Train

My train from Bangkok to Ayutthaya left on Saturday at 12:55pm, and it only cost me 15 baht (65 cents AUD)! I went to the platform and found a seat in an already hot car. The train ride was only an hour and a half long, but it didn’t have any air-conditioning and we were heading to a city where the “feels like” temperature was 39 degrees. Needless to say, I was sweating like a pig and I was actually scared to get off of my seat because I knew it would be wet. I tried to open the window beside me and couldn’t, then two other people tried to help me and they couldn’t either. Now I know why I was able to find an empty seat so easily… I got to Ayutthaya at 2:30 and was planning to spend the day exploring the temples until my train to Chiang Mai at 7:45pm. I started questioning whether I had left too late when I started talking to another girl who said all of the temples closed at 6pm. Honestly though, I don’t think I could have went any longer with the temperature outside! I found a luggage storage at the station, which was open 24 hours and only cost 10 baht per bag (44 cents). Ayutthaya was the capital of the Kingdom of Siam, was founded in 1350, and the city is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The railway station is quite far from the city centre so I went to the information booth to ask how to get to the temples. The lady said that I could rent a bike, so I asked how long it would take and she said 30 minutes. There was no way I was going to bike 30 minutes in 39-degree weather. I asked how much the tuk-tuks would be and she said at least 200 baht ($8.93). I asked if there was a bus and she said no. She didn’t seem too keen on helping me out so I left. I went on the Grab app and I could get a car for 87 baht ($3.80) and since I didn’t have lunch yet, I asked it to take me to Malakor Cafe & Restaurant. While I was waiting for my Grab driver to come, a songthaew pulled up (a Thai type of bus) so I guess I could have tried one of those if the information booth told me about them. I have a sneaking suspicion that Grab is actually illegal in Ayutthaya because there weren’t many drivers (so I had to wait 10-15 minutes for my ride), and then he sped right by me and parked about 100 metres away. The thing with Grab is it automatically translates for you, so if I write my driver in English, it’ll translate to Thai and if he writes me in Thai, it’ll translate to English. He wrote me and said, “Can you come to me? I’m afraid of 3 wheels,” which I took to mean that he’d get in trouble from the tuk-tuk drivers if they saw me going into his car. Anyway, he dropped me off at the restaurant at about 3:15 so by that point, I was starving. I ordered a shrimp pad Thai with a coke, which cost me 125 baht ($5.45), and it was so good!

After lunch, I crossed the street to the first temple I wanted to go to, called Wat Ratchaburana. For every temple, I had to pay an entrance fee of 50 baht ($2.18) so I only went to three. I had read online that the temples in Ayutthaya weren’t strict about dress code, so I wore one of my tank tops with my longer shorts. However, I was stopped and asked to cover up, and thank goodness I actually put my sarong and a t-shirt in my bag because there weren’t any places to buy anything (as there are in Bangkok). This temple was the quietest as well as the smallest of the three I went to, so I got through it pretty quick.

I also noticed some ladies (likely late-30s/early-40s) were wearing shorts that were the exact same length as mine. I decided that for the next temple, I’d just wear my sarong around my shoulders because I was so hot. I went next door to the next temple, Wat Phra Mahathat, but once again, the man pointed to my legs and told me to cover up. While I was putting everything on, ladies were walking out wearing dresses and shorts that didn’t go down to their knees so I was confused as to why I was being picked on. Another girl my age said she had the same problem- maybe cause we’re younger 🙂 This temple was famous for having a Buddha head that got caught in the roots of a tree, and was now within the tree. It was pretty cool to see, but was only about a metre high so they had signs saying we shouldn’t be higher than the Buddha and therefore should be squatting down as a sign of respect. I walked around the rest of the temple grounds, which were quite nice.

The last temple that I wanted to go to (Wat Phra Si Sanphet) was about a 20-30 minute walk away, so I slowly walked through the park, which had a lot of random temples within it. I finally got to the temple at about 5:30 and spent about an hour there watching the sunset and just enjoying the tranquility of it all.

I was one of the last people to leave when they closed at 6:30, and the guard was waiting to lock the gate. I started walking back towards where I had started, but at about 6:50, I thought I should be on the safe side and order a Grab to take me back to the train station.

However, when I requested one, it said that all of the Grab drivers were busy! I kept trying but nothing was available. I searched how long it would take to walk to the train station and it said 40 minutes, but it included a ferry ride and I wasn’t sure how reliable that would be. After about ten minutes, I tried again and thankfully, something came up! However, I still had to wait about 15 minutes for him to arrive. I got him to drop me off at the 7-Eleven across from the station so that I could pick up some snacks and water since I didn’t know what would be available on my 12-hour train ride. I went back to the station, got my bag, and waited for the train to arrive. My train ticket was a bit more expensive and cost me 1266 baht ($52.69), but I guess it was a pretty long trip and got me out of having to pay accommodation for a night. As I was about to get on the train, I met my second Australian of the entire trip: Abbey, from outside of Sydney. She ended up getting the bunk on top of mine. We were in a female berth and everyone else had their curtains closed, so we seemed to be the only ones talking. The set-up of the train was pretty cool though!

A lady came around with a menu and when we tried to order the cheapest thing, she said that they didn’t have anymore. Therefore, we ordered the next cheapest thing, which was a meal with questionable soup, rice, juice, and a muffin for 140 baht ($6.11). The lady set up a little table in the middle of my bed and then Abbey and I had dinner together. After dinner, we talked for awhile and then I got ready for bed. The bed was actually really comfy, however I was constantly rolling back and forth because of the motion of the train. We were to arrive at 7:15, so I set an alarm for 6:45. I’m pretty sure I woke up at least once every hour because of the jerks of the train whenever it would stop and start back up again. At about 6:15am, they made an announcement saying that they needed to flip the beds back into seats, so they asked us all to get out of our beds. I guess I didn’t need an alarm after all! I changed and then went to the bathroom to wash my face and when I came back, my bed was back into two seats.

I actually felt pretty energised that morning, but it faded as the day went on. Abbey and I chatted until 7:15 and then we arrived in Chiang Mai, which I’ll write about on the next post! Love always

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