Ayutthaya, A first-timer's guide!
Back with some travel visuals! I'm getting a little bummed out in the city after a while of just checking out the malls and night markets that I'm convinced I should venture out to the nearby towns. The only problem is that I got no one to go with, though solo travel isn't something I haven't considered. Luckily, one of my colleagues is nice enough to entertain my exploring to take photos antics, at least for this time so here we are with my first day trip out of the city. Take note, I did go to Pattaya with my brothers during the holidays but it wasn't a pleasant experience that I consider it a flop. 2019 is when we begin the count.
I've always wanted to visit Ayutthaya, a nearby town merely 2 hours away from Bangkok, because it looks so much like those majestic Buddhist temple ruins in Cambodia. It was once a powerful capital of the Kingdom of Siam which makes it essentially the old "Bangkok" so you can imagine what it must have been like before.
My colleague invited one of her friends who has a knack for finding instagram-worthy spots and so she planned the whole picture-perfect itinerary for us from start to finish.
Our first stop was a cafe that's kind of like in the middle of nowhere but so strategically located that makes it seem like you're not in Bangkok but somewhere in Bali (Disclaimer: I've never been to Bali, plan on doing so sometime soon, but I've seen instagram photos on the rice fields and I can tell you that this area comes close!). We were planning to have a hearty brunch in that cafe (I have the name somewhere on my VLOG so watch it down below if you will), but their menu consisted mostly of sweets and cakes. We weren't quite ready for that to begin our day with so instead, we each just ordered a glass of drinks we fancied (I got some strawberry yogurt smoothie) and took in the surroundings.
The cafe makes itself instagram-worthy for having these wooden platforms installed in the middle of the fields specifically for photos I guess in today's digital age, it's mandatory for businesses to have a photo spot to get customers, huh? It worked for us, must work for a lot of other people too.
About a half hour later, we're back on the road on the hunt for one of Pauleen's finds, another instagram worthy cafe but I think the term restaurant is more appropriate. It's located within a retreat house and is surrounded by greens and a lake - I can't tell if the lake is real or manmade but it made for a really refreshing vibe.
They served traditional Thai cuisine which is pretty good, and honestly, not pricey at all compared to how much it would have cost in Bangkok in that kind of setting. The 3 dishes + 1 dessert that the three of us shared on set us back THB 500 (approx. USD 16).
Of course we couldn't leave the property without a proper look around and mandatory photos so that's what we did post lunch, before moving on for more desserts along the roads.
Ayutthaya is known for, or so I was told, for its candy floss roti that even visiting local Thais make it a point to buy some to take home whenever they are in Ayutthaya. I was curious to know what it was all about. Essentially, it's cotton candy that could be mistaken for noodles wrapped in flour dough (roti). My younger self would have loved it entirely but since I'm getting older and have started eating less sweets (ha!), I thought it was good but not something that I'd definitely have too much of.
So after lunch, we were ready to head to the touristy spots. Our first stop was the floating market.
After much research, I realised that what I saw in Ayutthaya floating market is the correct description of a floating market, which isn't necessarily where you're on a boat buying stuff from vendors who are also on a boat. By definition, the market is, in fact, just floating above water. But I was hoping for the kind of floating market which you often see is advertised on a lot of Thailand travel guides. If you're someone like me, a first-timer, bear this mind so that you don't get disappointed. Not that I was, just a little lacking in knowledge is all.
We did take a boat trip around the market, which didn't take long seeing as the market wasn't that huge. If I remember correctly it cost less that THB10, though if you're a foreigner, be warned that you might get charged a bit more. I look Thai plus I'm with 2 Thai girls so I got away with the "local" price, as long as they did the talking and I shut my mouth and pretended I understood everything.
The thing about markets that I've been to so far is that they sell a lot of the same stuff. What differs is the prices. Since I kind of live here for the time being, I wasn't really into buying anything that most tourists would like buy, i.e. printed pants that's so popular among people touring around Southeast Asia. I was, however, curious to try a lot of the delicacies. The good thing about this market is that nearly every food stall offered free taste so I did not need to buy anything in order to sample.
I did buy something though, which shows the closet alcoholic in me (that was a joke) - 2 bottles of local rice wine. Couldn't help that the sales girl was insistent on letting us try all flavours and low-key getting us drink with free taste booze. I just had to get the flavours that I did like.
Right across the floating market is a sort of animal farm where you can go and see elephants, a tiger, horses and all that jazz. You can also ride the elephants but please do not do that, it's unnatural for them and the way they get trained to perform this act is torturous to these poor sweet giants. Just don't. What we did instead was bought bananas to feed them with. I know any kind of human interaction is unnatural for animals but I guess at least feeding is less abusive than the rest, right? Anyway, after our short elephant encounter, we're ready to visit the temple ruins.
We only went to two out of the many temple ruins there are in Ayutthaya. I reckon they all look very similar to each other but the top two that I really wanted to see was Wat Chaiwatthanaram which looks super grand (I bet even more when it was in its prime); and Wat Mahathat, the latter particularly to see the Buddha head which was entangled in the roots of a massive tree.
There's really not much I can say except that these temples are so majestic. Having blue skies for a backdrop makes for a very picturesque scene. We were also lucky to have gone in the afternoon, catching the golden hour as the sun set while we were in Wat Chaiwatthanaram. You know that time of day, the light is just the best.
Then we were ready to head to dinner. It was another find of Pauleen's, a nearby seafood market where there are restaurants that serve amazing seafood dishes for super affordable prices! I just could't believe it that I was asking my friends if there is anything remotely similar to that in Bangkok. Alas, there's none. And if there was at all, they say it would likely cost so much more. Oh well.
Anyway, as mentioned, I have a VLOG to support these visuals so do watch it below or better yet, head to my youtube channel and subscribe while you're at it. I will make it a point to venture out of Bangkok as much as I can and hopefully document everything so I can share with ya'll. Ya know I always do so stay tuned =)
For now, I end this very lengthy post.