Fallen Empire - Ayutthaya, Thailand

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February 24th 2017
Published: February 23rd 2017
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Ayutthaya; the fabled city of stories past. It served as the seat of power and the capitol of the Kingdom of Siam from 1350-1767 when it was then sacked, looted, and burned by the Burmese. The city now serves as a UNESCO Historical site and with the numerous temples and palaces it is easy to imagine its past splendor. The historical site is surrounded by rivers and moats isolating an island that is filled with the ruins. The natural barriers made it an easy choice to build the capitol of the fallen empire. I came to see the ruins and as I toured the many sites, for the first time I truly felt I was in the Asia that I had dreamt about half a world away.

Getting to Ayutthaya form Kanchanaburi was simple. All of the tour agencies and my guesthouse wanted to sell me a ticket for $400b for the four hour journey. I knew I could do better as public transport in the North is much better and easier to navigate than it is down South. The long and the short is I walked to the bus station in Kanchanaburi and looked at the map. I hopped
hot roomhot roomhot room

So unbelievably hot in my accommodation
onto a bus ($70b) for Suphanburi two hours to the North. I then transferred onto another bus for two hours Eastbound for Ayutthaya ($90b). Do the math and chalk up a victory for this guy. Once at my destination I found a sweltering room for $200b. As I only wanted to stay here for one day my first order of business was to get a ticket out of town. I took the ferry boat to the train station and bought a ticket to the far North of Thailand. $766B for a sleeper berth on the night train for the 13 hour journey the following evening. This was the last ticket available on the entire train. Things were working out quite well for me.

Up early the next morning - 11am - I rented yet another bicycle ($30b) from the guesthouse where I stayed so I could explore the various ruins of the old historical centre. Whilst riding in the South East Asian sunshine I had a few random thoughts cross my mind. The first of which was that my knee has not felt this good since it was broken on that cursed hit on the ice back in December 2011. Second was that amidst the trees and the lakes of Ayutthaya I felt I could be riding back in my beloved Washington Park, except that instead of the majestic Rockies to my West I had layers of ancient ruins over 600 years all around me. This was not the first time I have drawn random comparisons in my head, and it is sure to not be the last.

With the golden hues of the equatorial gleam upon my shoulders I came upon a temple where a statue of The Buddha had been swallowed by Mother Nature and reclaimed by the test of time. This sight that saturated my eyes, among others, whetted my thirsting appetite for the impending journey to the mighty Wats of Angkor to the East.

Overall just a really pleasant afternoon riding around and exploring the hidden gems of this ancient city. After the end of the long day I returned the bike, grabbed my bags, and headed off to the train station for my overnight journey to Chiang Mai. The ride on the train was great as I had never been on an overnight train before. I grabbed a few beers at the bar car and off to sleep I went and surprisingly slept very well with the rocking of the train and the sounds of the track passing below.

I stayed two days in Chiang Mai and I didn't care for this place. I took 3 photos if that tells you anything. It's my own fault really. I had an expectation in my mind of what this city would be like and of course it was not like I had imagined it. The thing with expectations is that they always lead to disappointment, so I try to not have any. Opting not to go for any of the over touristy hill trekking in the area, and with the crowds all heading West to Pai, I hopped onto a bus North to a tiny town called Thaton four hours away smack on the Burmese border in the far North of Thailand without a clue or a plan.

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Trains are the best!

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