Sunday, February 10, 2013

slow boat to Ayutthaya

Today Sean and I headed north from Bangkok to the ancient Thai city of Ayutthaya. It's just this crumbling place with ruins peppered on nearly every street corner. We didn't hit up this town on our first round through Asia because we had been to Angkor Wat and figured-- what could possibly beat that? However, as I started looking into getting to Ayutthaya, I realized one could get there via river and it was a done deal.

We had to start early because it's a long trip to get there. When our alarm blasted at 5a.m., both Sean and I seriously questioned our dedication to this adventure. Nothing looks good in the darkness of 5a.m.

[Confession: Sean and I live these glorious lives that involve alarm clocks going off at 7a.m. at the earliest]

But, we threw off the bed covers and blearily dressed. Bangkok never quiets, not even at 5a.m. on a Sunday morning. Sleepy eyed shop keepers sat on short stools outside their shops, tuk-tuks roamed the streets, and people walked down the street with fresh fish.
The river was calm and the 2-hour journey gave us another glimpse of Thai life: people hanging their laundry on their "porches," children jumping into the water, barges plowing north full of sugar and spices, long tail boats shuffling people from one side of the river to another...

The Thai people who live along the riverbank sure live simple lives, but it is undeniable that those lives are full of color. Finally, we docked and hopped on a bus that took us inland to Ayutthaya.

We had to be picky about what we would see; the city is sprawling and temples are everywhere. I desperately wanted to see this World Heritage cite, a Buddha head statue with tree roots growing all around it, but I learned long ago that it's sites like this that attract tour buses and everyone and their mother, so we ditched that idea and instead headed for the lesser known and lesser popular temples and sites.

It was totally worth it. In a town overflowing with tourists, we were able to find space, and although the temples were not as impressive as Angkor Wat [I challenge you to show me one that is], we were not expecting them to be.

They were still so special in and of themselves. I don't really like reading the guide book or researching their histories. I just like to stand before them, to run my hand across them, and know I'm standing in front of something special, something beautiful, something old.

It's quite spectacular.
At the end of the day, our 5 a.m. wake up call was more than worth it!


  1. Jackie,

    This was an interesting post.
    Can you tell me about the logistics of taking the boat to Ayutthaya. For example, did you use a travel agency. Where would I buy tickets and where do you catch the boat and how often does it run?


    1. We booked the boat through our hotel the day before we wanted to go. I cannot remember exactly where we were picked up/dropped off along the river but I know it was at a pier near Wat Arun. Once the boat drops you off, you can catch a bus to the ruins. I'm sure the people at the front desk of your hotel would be able to help you sort things out.