Tag Archives: ayutthya

Ayutthya day 3

A late start and a trip to a veggie buffet. Cheap, tasty, and slightly mysterious what I was eating! Then I do some exploring of the local market. The usual covered hall with concrete slab counters wher meat is carved up and fish are laid out. Old women sitting next to their vegetables and bags of spices. I have been to a lot of these and I'm always too late to catch the real bustle. It's half closed now and some of the women are uncomfortably sleeping among the produce. Rats scuttle across the floor. The pavements of the streets outside the market hall are lined with stalls. Key cutters, underwear, lots and pans. A thickset bald older man behind a stall that fixes watches catches my eye. Taking his picture results in avert long chat,him doing most of the talking. It's one of those “conversations” where the other party can talk but not comprehend too well. Anyway I find out he's 70, works every day of the week from 7am and learns English from tv and directing tourists. I'm there for over an hour, and see no other white skins, so I find the latter hard to believe. His English isn't too bad, but his absence of most of his lower front teeth makes pronunciation rather difficult. I buy a strawberry shake pandan cakes and rose apples for lunch back at the guesthouse, then take a snooze.

 

 

I'm hoping the afternoon light at the temple ruins will be nice, and it is. The park is actually very busy with the building of stages and markets, and a son et lumiere rehearsal of some reenactment of the ayutthya a fighting the burmese. I chance upon the backstage preparations where 5 massive white elephants are being dressed for the show.

 

On returning to the soi, low and beyond there is Fran..much sooner than expected or hoped for. I meet her for a drink at gubar later but meanwhile I'm accosted by a jolly bunch of assorted drivers who are rapidly getting through a bottle of (fake!) Johnny walker. They ask me to join them and our conversation is an exchange of the names of our favourite football teams,and an exchange of gestures brought on by the disclosure that the balding one has the nickname of zidane, and that another one likes Liverpool and Suarez. Head butts and bites. We play guess each other's age and are all generously underestimating. The mood changes suddenly when a pretty stern thai lady appears (driving a tuk tuk) with 2 small children. She is the ringleader's wife and proceeds to yell at him to come home instead of staying out drinking. He looks bashful like a scalded kid, but stays at the table, whilst she drives off in a storm. Apparently this is the typical thai marriage. Drunken lazy husband, tough, strong wife who does more than her fair share. I get a little drunk, then take my leave.

 

Fran is full of the usual stories of narrow scrapes, spending too much on things she doesn't want and technology problems. I want to watch the band at the bar opposite. The previous night they were surprisingly good. A group of young Thais all in black playing tight energetic hard metal-funk. As I got ther and bought a beer that I didn't really need, the band finished. Tonight we checked that they hadn't played yet, and asked who they were. The board said spring low, the barman who had made fun of me over last nights poor timing tells us they are called “spring roll”. At least that is his pronunciation, and in spite of my coaching he can't get the “r” and can't hear his mistake, so I get some revenge. Perhaps the sucker punch is how dreadful the band are. I predict a Number of songs that I know they will play. All these bands in thai bars play the same mix of reggae standards and rock cliches. So we get no woman no cry, born to be wild, honky took woman, hey joe…..my god it's painful. A Thai guy who puts his own unusual inflexion on the singing, a white guy who thinks his soloing over loose backing musicians will make this all good…..so glad when it's over! Bedtime.

 

 

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Ayutthya

So glad I didn't get sunburned today, and I'm surprised!

Today I cycled most of the day, well from when I felt together enough to go out, which was 11. I rented from a girl, who also had a masculine element to her! She wore a skirt made from Hmong fabrics, which I recognised from a bagi bought in chiang mai. We have a discussion about my necklace, and have our doubts about it being real jade. She likes my British accent! The bike rent is 40 per day, I get it for 2 days for 60. Cycling around the place reminds me of Anuradhapura, in that the town is build among the ruins, mostly well restored, of some magnificent wat and palaces, on an island, which contains a number of ditches and tanks. It also reminds me of jogykarta, sukhothai…elements of others. I've done this before: losing myself on archaeological parks, spending long pauses sitting on temple steps watching the world and emptying my mind. There are fallen cherries on the ground, small children selling some kind of bird made from bamboo leaves. There is a souvenir/snack market, where women are smearing green batter onto hot plates to make pandan pancakes. Others in rubber gloves are dropping batter into huge woks of bubbling oil to make donuts. The stalls have bags of twisted dark crispy snacks. On close inspection they seem to be reptilian in origin. Lizard heads?, snake skin?

Lunch is at the small pure vegetarian food place I had read about but thought I had no chance of finding. I just stumbled upon it. Tasty and cheap!

I cross the bridge to the east and off the island, and follow a smal windy road to a place called th elephant krall. This is like a stockade fenced with red tree trunk like piles. I get excited when I spy a pale grey bull elephant with long tusks swaying his body outside this empty arena opposite a school yard. On encircling this massive space I come across a dark skinned man marshalling 2 smaller darker elephants across the road and down a smaller one to a cluster of buildings and wooden structures. Elephants! Maybe 30 of them. This is some kind of elephant sanctuary. It's fantastic. I spend a happy hour or so watching a 3 day old baby elephant stumble at his mother's feel looking for her teets. The mother shows amazing grace and awareness not to step on the tiny creature. Further along the road I come across the river once more. Here, in twos or threes the elephants are being ridden..and then ridden into the water where almost submerged they are washed, their riders standing on their backs like listing living rocks. On the banks of the river some small children are fishing. All these goings on are every day occurrences and unremarkable to them.

 

I cross the island and over to the other side of the river to experience the end of the sunset at the serene wat chaiwatthanaram, nearly get lost cycling back, and am overtaken by a man with a puppy in the front basket of his motorbike.

Dinner is at gubar. I ask for my curry to be spicy. Big mistake….too hot even for me!

 

Brighton to Bangkok to ayutthya

It’s my first full day. I’m in ayutthya and it was a much better choice to decompress than Bangkok, though getting here was almost suicidal!

The trip started with a hiccup at brighton station with super officious ticket inspectors not letting me use my advance ticket without the reservation slip which I threw away weeks ago. That kind of set the tone for a fraught journey full of anxious moments and fears of near misses. The tube taking forever to get to Heathrow. Fran, my travel companion for the first hop, messing up with on-line checking in; the stopover in Doha being a hectic rush through the sprawling ultra modern terminal to get to the gate for the transfer with minutes to spare. I can never sleep sitting upright, so the flights sapped me. Arriving in Thailand where my body had to suddenly get used to being 25 degrees hotter than it had been was exhausting, not helped by by planned smart route to ayutthya being blocked. I was surprised with how militaristic the many people in uniforms here have become. I wasn’t allowed to get the shuttle bus to don muang, instead I had to take the underground then sky train into bkk. A 2 hour wait for a train, which left late, then typically took 4 hours for a two hour journey…but only 20 baht!

I’ve done this trip before. The first few miles are through shanty-like shacks. So close that you can touch them as the train goes by. I can see in kitchens, sleeping spaces, smell the people. The rest of the crawl through bkk follows extensive sky train construction. Concrete pillars half-finished, roads clogged with jams, workers in masks, the air heavy with dust, cement works, temporary shanty workers accommodation. There is a procession of women passing through the carriages selling prawn crackers, bananas, water. A very elderly monk sits across from me, the late afternoon sun ennobling the Orange robed form. He has some luggage, which he proceeds to open: a set of kitschy plastic statues of the Buddha on a horse before his enlightenment. The man across the aisle has a plastic bag containing some greenish water. He hands it on the window opener. Now that it’s backlit I can see it contains some small fishes.

it was dark by the time I got to ayutthya. With huge relief I get a room in the Chandana guesthouse. It’s a bit quiet, and I have to walk through reception cum living room of the very nice but not so useful thai ladies running the place. The room is 450, which seems fine. My jetlagged means I wake up at 2am. The water pump outside kicks in every 2 minutes and this upsets my sleep further. On the street are a number of low key and friendly guesthouses, bars, bike rental places. It’s certainly not khaosan road and there is no hard sale whatsoever.

Gubar seems to be run by a woman I thought was a man, and I’m still not sure, in spite of the breasts! Anyway she tells me I can’t eat as she’s too drunk to cook! I eat opposite and have what will be my first of many curries and excellent fruit shakes.