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2017 SEPTEMBER THAILAND RAIL JOURNEY part two

TRAIN PHITSANULOK TO AYUATTHAYA

rain 25 °C

DAY 240 TUESDAY 3RD OCTOBER 2017

We booked a 8.55am train, so it was early down to breakfast and then a taxi (flash air con taxi) 60 baht = aud$ 2.31 to the train station.

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Our 3rd class ticket costs 168 baht = aud $6.41 on Rapid train #106 and took about 4 hours. We got allocated seats on this train and luckily we were given side seats as they were much wider than the other seats and we could both fit on it. They are both bench seats but the forward facings ones are not really made for 'Westeners' girth. Even some Thais have difficulty fitting on the bench side by side.

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The train ride was uneventful, the scenery much the same same same, lot of rice paddies. Again there were lots of food vendors on the train, who seemed to work in a system of travelling just so far along the track before they were replaced with new vendors.

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It was obvious that this area had received much more rain than further north as there was a lot of water laying around and a lot of fields were flooded. I guess this is a good thing as they need the rain for their crops, but from a tourist point of view it's not the kind of weather we want to see. Halfway through the trip the rain started and continued until we arrived at our destination of Ayuatthaya.

Ayutthaya, full name Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, is an ancient capital and modern city in the Central Plains of Thailand, 85 km north of Bangkok. It is the Capital City of the Province of this name.
Founded around 1350, Ayutthaya became the second capital of Siam after Sukhothai. Throughout the centuries, the ideal location between China, India and the Malay Archipelago made Ayutthaya the trading capital of Asia and even the world. By 1700 Ayutthaya had become the largest city in the world with a total of 1 million inhabitants. Many international merchants set sail for Ayutthaya, from diverse regions as the Arab world, China, India, Japan, Portugal, the Netherlands and France. Merchants from Europe proclaimed Ayutthaya as the finest city they had ever seen. Dutch and French maps of the city show grandeur with gold-laden palaces, large ceremonies and a huge float of trading vessels from all over the world. All this came to a quick end when the Burmese invaded Ayutthaya in 1767 and almost completely burnt the city down to the ground.

Today, only a few remains might give a glimpse of the impressive city they must have seen. Its remains are characterized by the prang (reliquary towers) and big monasteries. Most of the remains are temples and palaces, as those were the only buildings made of stone at that time. The great cultural value of Ayutthaya's ruins were officially recognized in 1991, when the Historic City became an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We have been to Ayuatthaya before, back in 2013, and thought it would be a nice place to stop again before we reach Bangkok. I booked the same hotel we stayed in last time, Baan Are Gong Riverside Homestay, air con, fridge, hot shower and TV (with only one English speaking channel which is called France 24 - its a 24 hour news channel so we are now experts on the 3 main news stories of just now. 1. Las Vegas shooting 2. Protests in Spain as Catalona is try to claim independence 3. Trump visiting hurricane torn Puerto Rico stupidly telling them they did not have as many deaths as New Orleans did with Katrina) all this for just 680 baht = aud $25.93 per night. It's a nice location right on the river.DSCN6916.jpg90_DSCN6917.jpg

Unfortunately the weather does not look good for our stay here, and does not look like the forecast is any better for the coming days.

After settling in our room we headed out for a bite to eat and to find an ATM so we could pay for our room. Our hotel is in a small laneway that is directly across the road from the train station, so it only took us 5 minutes to walk to it. This laneway is lined with food stalls and restaurants so food is close by, and a couple of bicycle & motor bike hire places, hasn't changed much in the last 4 years.

We chose one randomly and had a nice meal that costs us a total of 100baht = aud $3.81. Rice with pork for me and noodles & tofu for Lyn.
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7-11 up the street had 4 ATM's outside so after trying them all to check the fee we found they all charged the same. 220 baht = aud $8.39 - outrageous! but we needed cash so had no choice but to suck it up. We paid the hotel receptionist before returning to the street to find dinner. A local food shack was our choice and again the food was tasty. We shared a dish of garlic pork and a bowl of curry chicken soup, both eaten with rice and washed down with a glassed of iced Leo beer. Total cost for the meal 320 baht = aud $12.20.

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DAY 241 WEDNESDAY 4TH OCTOBER 2017

I seem to be getting lazier every day. The more we do nothing, the more tired I get. All this doing nothing is wearing me out and I am managing to sleep very long hours. It's going to be a real struggle to return to the real world, a world where I will need to get up early each morning to go to work, but let's worry about that later, shall we.

So today we had a very late breakfast by the riverside at our accommodation. I had the eggs breakfast for 80 baht = aud $3.05 & Lyn had fried potatoes 80 baht = aud $3.05 and be both had a yohurt fruit smoothie for 40 baht = aud $1.53 each.

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We then made the mistake of going out exploring in the afternoon rather than the morning. Because although the morning was overcast it did not rain, and just within 1 hour of us hiring a motor bike and riding off to see some sights it poured down with rain.

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We managed to find our way to Phra Buddha Sai Yat (The Reclining Buddha), took some photos and then rode to our next stop, but had to pull over to shelter from the downpour.

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When the rain eased a little we braved the ride back to the hotel. That's enough for today, we spent the rest of the afternoon & evening watching Mrs Brown on Lyn's mini ipad.

We had dinner by the river in our accommodation restaurant and I'm not sure who got the best feed, us or the millions of mosquitos that attacked us at the table. We both had simple stir fry dishes that cost just 60 baht = aud $2.29 each and returned to our air con room to escape the feasting of the local insects.

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We have decided to stay an extra night here, maybe I can force myself to wake up a little earlier and we can go out for a ride in the morning when it usually doesn't rain. The hire bike has to be back by 2 which is around the time the rain usually comes.

DAY 242 THURSDAY 5TH OCTOBER 2017

We were up early for a 711 breakfast of toasted sandwich, washed down with an iced coffee, to take full advantage of the clear, dry morning.
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The weather stayed kind to us until after we had driven around and returned the bike at 2pm. We did not have a particular plan of what to see today, however for our first stop we headed to one of the most well preserved temples. Us and every other tourist in Ayutthaya! The area was swarming with tourists like little white ants all over the ruins. Too crowded for us so we hopped back on the bike and headed a little way from the main tourist sites. We rode past a few minor sites which were still free of ants.

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We road just out of town in search of a giant Wat we had seen when we were here 4 years old. It was not very difficult to find because it was so big and stood out over the countryside. And the fact that it had been painted. We rode up to Wat Phukhao Thong and managed to have a quick look around before a bus load of ants started to crawl around the site. On our last visit we were able to climb the giant Wat which afforded us magnificent views of the surrounds, but this was not possible today as the stairways were all fenced off.

You can see by the comparison photos below the new paint job looks great!

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We drove off looking for another memorial but did not manage to find it, although we did manage to get sort of lost, continuing along a busy road hoping to see a sign that would direct us back to Ayutthaya. It was not until we stopped and turned around that we saw the sign, so we had been heading in the completely wrong direction. Not to mind it was a nice ride out in the countryside.
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The memorial to Queen Suriyothai was pretty impressive and was surrounded by lovely frangipani trees.
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A large water monitor crossed the road in front of us at one stage, its back all green from the algae in the waterways.
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We passed another very popular Wat sight on the way back around the river. Again crawling with antlike tourists, we stopped for a quick photo outside the gate just as another 2 bus loads of ants pulled up.
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It was a complete fluke that we found our way back as time was running out to get the bike back before 2pm. Somehow after riding around we don't know where, we came out at the Shell garage just down the road from where we needed to return the bike. Perfect as we needed to fill the bike with fuel before returning it. It took just 60 baht =aud $2.31. The fuel plus the hire cost of 150 baht = aud $5.77, the bike costs us a total of aud $8.08!

Lunchtime, we ate at the same place where we hired the bike from. Lyn had fried green spinach (morning glory) 60 baht = aud $2.31and I went all western and had a chicken burger and chips 99 baht = aud $3.81.
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We returned to our air con room for the afternoon to cool off and watch some France 24 news channel cause we needed to catch up on the top 3 new stores of the world. We got the 3rd nights accommodation for 650 baht = aud $25.02 - discount of 30 baht!

After dark we took a quick trip across the river on the ferry just next to our hotel. It's just 5 baht = aud 19c and takes about 3 minutes to cross to the other side.
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Once there we walked a couple of blocks, found a KFC - fed our KFC ice coffee addiction. 19 baht = aud 73c. Lyn confused the staff by asking for the drink without ice. The staff member had to consult just about everyone one else working at the store as this was an ice coffee so should have ice. We did manage to get the drink without ice, but I don't think we will be welcome back at that KFC.
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Deciding to return back to our side of the river to find something for dinner, we settled for a chicken noodle soup from one of the food carts that are parked outside of the 711. The food was tasty and at just 40 baht = aud $1.54 a very cheap meal.
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Posted by Cindy Bruin 10:30 Archived in Thailand Tagged ayutthaya

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