Thailand: Back from Ayuthaya…

Ayuthaya, about 75km away from Bangkok had been a revelation. It was like being handed a surprise gift months after your birthday. Did the usual tour of the Sleeping Buddha, Buddha-head-in-the-Bodhi Tree, the ruins and the headless statues (gruesome) that were scattered around the place. The sights in Ayuthaya were the unfortunate reminder of destruction it had suffered years ago by the Burmese. As the erstwhile capital of Thailand, it had held its place, but after the bombings and mass destruction, it had been was pushed to the pages of history and remained thus, a historic site that was a treat to the visitors with little or no sense of history. For some odd reason the word ‘disaster tourism’ came to mind….

Ruins of Ayuthaya

Ruins of Ayuthaya



Pari was the perfect friend and guide who understood the pulse of a backpacker. Although we didn’t spend too much time in the ruins, we covered a lot of ground. It is extremely interesting to those studying past cultures, but, being rooted firmly in the present, I moved on! We spent a good amount of time over the decorated elephants waiting to do their bit, and sipping tender coconut and exchanging friendly information. It was comforting to know that I would return to Bangkok with Pari.

Quite an eyeful!

Ayuthaya: Quite an eyeful!


We returned late in the evening. Pari was rather worried about my accommodation and invited me to stay with her! The idea was appealing, but for practical purposes (she lived some distance away from the railway station) I refused. There is only so much one can accept goodness! I was willing to spend the night at the station if required. With last words of advice she dropped me off at some pint (I can’t recall the name) but I paid THB 8 from that point to Bang Lumphu, known in the backpacker’s circle as the ‘Mecca’ of budget friendly hotels.

It was also a short distance from Tha Phra Chand.

This I gleaned from a backpacking couple. Eventually I found Star Dome, (THB 350 with free internet). Let me admit, I was tired and didn’t mind that had I looked further, I could have perhaps found a slightly cheaper place, not having slept since the night I boarded the flight!

A quick shower later, I was good for another three hours or so of exploring the streets of Bang Lumphu! Time, the elusive element was against me and stretching it a bit further, I decided that I could catch a few winks on the train to Kanchanaburi next day!
It is true what is said of the backpackers. They are like the ‘fly-by-night’ shops, come up for a short time, make friends with their immediate environ, exchange words with other BPs, share a drink or two over stories of new trails and move on. They steer clear of emotions, they come and they go…some come back again!

I walked the lively streets, so different from Silom (read Patpong, which I visited days later), a different world created exclusively for travelers. It has everything, money exchanges, hotels, internet cafes, massage parlous and food joints in a straight row, souvenir shop. I didn’t find any ‘family types’ here, if you can ignore the aging Englishman with their young Thai women possibly hired for the length of their stay.
I loved the anonymity…although people I struck conversations with readily told me it was a change to see Indian women traveling alone! Either I didn’t see any of my kind or they didn’t exist, but whatever it was, I enjoyed the freedom and the security on unfamiliar streets!

Food
Thai food is amazing when treated as a luxury especially by more affluent visitors opting for the bed-breakfast option at regular hotels. But when you have decided, like I did, to eat only Thai food during my entire stay, (and I had only had three such meals), the smell of fried food from the stalls that hits your nose quite strongly can shake the strongest resolve! However, not the one to give up easily, I sat down to street-side meal that consisted of rice and a very-spicy-curry of fish , flavoured with basil, a type of tulasi (No, I have no idea what the fish was called.) I suppose that is the reason Thai’s prefer to sip water with ice cubes, through a narrow straw, but as my tongue and throat were on fire, I was forced to overlook this custom and gulp!
At THB 20, I had a torturing good time!

It was impossible to sleep for many of the live bands that form the life-line of Bang Lumphu kept up their beats through out the night, it was cheerful no doubt, but I needed rest.

I must have dozed off, a little after 2am, for when I left three hours later, intoxicated merry-makers were grudgingly trying to find their way back to their nest! Here, when you want to checkout, you don’t need worry the sleepy or absent receptionist. Just leave the key and walk off.

I hailed a cab, which thankfully, are in plenty.

I made it to Tha Phra Chand in time to jump on to the ferry that would take me across to the bad side of Bangkok. Thonburi.

At last I was going somewhere. (To be continued…)

6 Comments

  • nandanjha says:

    Interesting thought on Backpacker and fly-by-night analogy. This reads more like a movie , its like reading a story of someone who is on some mission.

    Very engaging, almost interactive.

  • anjaly says:

    Mission is right…that moment, my only mission was to reach Kanchanaburi and walk on the River Kwai, as dearly as I wanted a dip in the Ganges few years ago…and a possible ride on the Death Railway…and look for beetles, dragonflies (possibly scorpions and snakes) fried and served on long sticks…I did find two of the above mentioned though ;-) They taste great, only one much know which part of them to discard (the dragonfly’s wings! They can get stuck in the throat)….

  • Patrick Jones says:

    Interesting post. Bigger size pictures would’ve looked better.

  • Celine says:

    Enjoyed reading your well narrated ‘adventure’ and having done a bit of solo travelling myself within India, I do agree with your description of the fly-by-night BPs. ;)

    I thought Patpong was on the ‘bad’ side of Bangkok. Alright, I’ll wait to read about Thonburi.

  • anjaly says:

    Hi Celine,

    Patpong is definitely the ‘interestingly-bad-side of Bangkok and very much the Bangkok people come to see. Thonburi on the other hand is a laid back section on wrong side of the river meaning it is the place you board the ancient train to Kanchanaburi and if am not mistaken, the BTS Sky Train does not run on that sideI am not really sure of that. It is the place for people, large markets and thingsif I were to compare with any Indian city; I would say Juhu and Kurlathats the difference!

  • Manish Khamesra says:

    Anjaly – the backpacker on the run to go from one stopover to another. You seemed to be filled with so much of energy, not so keen of destinations. Ayuthaya started to interest me and you called it off :( and moved on :)

    I too, agree with Nandan that this post reads like a movie.

    As never been to Thailand – the adjectives bad side, interestingly bad side, wrong side of the river baffles me. Let me see, will I get answers in the next posts or will Anjaly reply, or leave it to me to explore.

    I Can’t explore world like you do. I only imagine myself with my younger kid on my shoulder and my charming elder kid holding my hand and we all(including my wife) exploring the world together.

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