Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Ancient Ayutthaya: A day trip from Bangkok

20 August 2010

Travel Mate/s
Atrie & Mik

13/Aug/2010 Jakarta (Indonesia) – Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)
14/Aug/2010 Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) – Chiang Mai (Thailand)
15/Aug/2010 Chiang Mai – Overnight in train to Bangkok
16/Aug/2010 Bangkok (Thailand) – Siam Reap (Cambodia)
17/Aug/2010 Siam Reap
18/Aug/2010 Siam Reap (Cambodia) – Bangkok (Thailand)
19/Aug/2010 Bangkok City Sightseeing
20/Aug/2010 Bangkok – Ayutthaya – Bangkok
21/Aug/2010 Bangkok (Thailand) – Jakarta (Indonesia)

Travel Notes
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya is full name of Ayutthaya, one of the city in Thailand, near Bangkok. My first impression about the city name - Ayutthaya: Ancient-ly Beautiful.

Reading the history of the city that confirm my impression above then later on found that it is included in UNESCO World Heritage Site, significantly increase my desire to visit the city during my trip to Thailand in 2010.

We depart from Bangkok to Ayutthaya from Hualampong Train Station. There is regular train schedule which connect Bangkok and Ayutthaya. We buy 3rd class ticket which did not provide seat reservation so we need to battle our seat since the journey will take about 2 - 2.5 hours. The ticket fare itself is just 20 baht = more or less 0.6 USD = more or less 5,000 Indonesian Rupiahs. Yes it is the cheapest way reaching Ayutthaya from Bangkok. Very good value of money since the train is clean and as a bonus, we can enjoy the scenery along the way or enjoying the local atmosphere.
(the train from Bangkok to Ayyutthaya)
Ayutthaya is an island located between 3 rivers. Ayutthaya train station itself is not located on the island. We will need to cross the river by a ferry/small boat. It is a very short ferry ride since we can see Ayutthaya from the port. Ferry is available almost every minutes and it will cost you 6 baht = more or less 0.19 USD = more or less 1,800 Indonesian Rupiahs. Cheap!

(Ayutthaya Map, taken from Wikitravel)

(Ayutthaya Ferry's Port)
From the ferry, just walk do the street straight. We will be able to find a lot of bicycle rental. We decided to use bicycle to around Ayutthaya. We rent the bike from 'Smile bicycle rental' during our way down from the ferry port. Other than the bicycle must work properly, ensure they also give you good bicycle lock.
Ayutthaya is an archeological park listed in UNESCO world heritage site. Once it was the trading capital of Asia, even for the rest of the world due to its location. It had become the most prosperous city until the invasion of Burmese which burnt down the city. So what to see in Ayutthaya would be mostly remains of those temples and monasteries.

Our picks (due to our limited time) would be:
1. Wat Phra Si Sanphet - Famous because of its 3 (three) grande chedis

Entrance Fee: 50 baht

2. Wat Mongkhon Bophit (same location with Wat Phra Si Sanphet)

3. Wat Phra Mahathat - location of famous tree that has grown around a Buddha head. For me, rows of headless Budha was the most memorable thing, gave me chills. What war can do, when there is no value about everything even for faith or religion.

Entrance Fee: 50 baht

4. Wat Ratchaburana - Taken from 'ThailandForVisitor', Wat Ratchaburana established in 1424 by King Boromaraja II, the temple was built to hold the ashes of his elder brothers, who killed each other in battle - on elephant back - fighting over the throne. For me, the structure of the main building is so grand contrast with the condition that it was burnt as seen as in its wall.

We spent half day to visit above itinerary. Drop our bike at 5 PM and decided to take bus back to Bangkok. The main bus terminal is located near the market which will be passed by when we come from the ferry. But there are several 1st class bus leave from the road close to the canal. We took the bus from the road (instead of main terminal) since we are escorted by the bicycle rental's staff. Yes we ride their motorcycle to reach the bus - Atrie and Me were ride 1 motorcycle with its driver who drive like a racer. Quite a thrilling experience!

Personal Notes

When we decided to take the train to Ayutthaya we (especially me) never thought that Ayutthaya train station is not the final stop for our train. We did not bring any guide books nor transportation map. And as we know, English is not a mandatory language in Thailand. Thai languange-spoken and transcript-would be our barrier. And it is true, some of the train station name still written in Thai script (without latin transliteration). Ouchhhh!!!!
Only relied on our knowledge from the wikitravel that said journey from Bangkok to Ayutthaya by train possibly will took 2 - 2.5 hours, then we decided to ask local people when we reached almost 2 hours of the train journey. And there was granny who sit in front of Me and Atrie. She can not speak English. We wrote 'AYUTTHAYA' in a paper and asked (most of it with body language) when we need to get off from the train. After some failed attempts on communication finally we understood. Ayutthaya will be in the next 2 stops :)

(Finally arrive in Ayutthaya train station)
In summary:
Train from Bangkok to Ayutthaya -> 20 baht
Bus from Ayutthaya to Bangkok -> 50 baht
Bicycle rental 1 day -> 50 baht
Meal -> 65 baht
Entrance Fee -> more or less 200 baht
Total 385 baht equal to (more or less) 12.5 USD; equal to (more or less) 114,000 IDR

Worth to visit!
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

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