Last Saturday was my last day with Donna in Bangkok and we headed out of the city in her car to the ruins of the old city at Ayutthaya, about 2 hours away. Ayutthaya used to be the capital city until the Burmese invaded in 1767 and the Thais moved to Bangkok.
It was lovely to have the car as everything was quite spread out and we visited the Wat Mahthat, Wat Chaiwattanarem and the sleeping Buddha. We also strolled around Khun Phaen’s Palace and the Provincial Pillar of Spiritual Unity. We had a local noodle lunch for 75p and even bumped into some elephants when we took a wrong turn.
By the time we got back to the city it was dark and we headed to the ‘In Love’ restaurant, a locals restaurant on the shore of the Mae Nam Chao Phraya River. It was a great view of the Rama VIII Bridge and we had pork satay and beer while listening to a live band. I had a great time in Bangkok and I can’t thank Donna enough, it was so good to have a local friend to help you out, especially when buying tickets and visiting things, and I didn’t feel like a complete faràng (foreigner).
The next day I left Bangkok on the ‘999 VIP bus’ (9 is a lucky number here!) for central Thailand and the historic town of Sukhothai. It’s about halfway to Chiang Mai and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Compared to my hotel in Bangkok it’s fantastic here with a lovely swimming pool, free WiFi and quiet.
The first day here I chilled out by the pool, the perfect Monday! Then yesterday I went on a cycling tour around the ruins with a guide. The ‘new’ town is about 12km away from the actual park so a round trip there was 35km – luckily it’s completely flat here so the only problem was a sore bum.
The park is in a square so we did a loop around it then ended up in the centre. There are 650 temples so we obviously didn’t stop at everyone but my favourite was the Wat Si Chum, a huge Buddha with elegant gold fingers.
As it is the end of the low season I had the guide all to myself so I could stop and take pictures, drink water etc. without having to wait for anyone else. We also went to the guide’s local favourite place for lunch, a shack on the side of the road, to have kŭaytĭaw Sukhothai which is a pork noodle dish made with lime, palm sugar, peanuts and green beans, with pork crackling sprinkled on the top. It was absolutely delicious. We also tried sweetcorn fritters with sweet chilli sauce before taking a walk round the local food market. The things on sale there were unbelievable – skinned frog anyone? – and very…fragrant!
I am leaving on the bus again tomorrow to head north for Chiang Mai and will start cookery school on Friday – I can’t wait!