The sun was beating down on me, it was mid-afternoon, and I had been walking through the ruins in Ayutthaya for all of ten minutes, and desperate for some shade. Of course, I didn’t want to sound like a wimpy tourist in front of my Thai friends, so I plodded along, praying for a wee break.
I had been in Thailand for four days, and I thought I used to the heat, but the truth is, in Bangkok, there are so many buildings that it’s not often that one finds themselves in direct sunlight. Something I was acutely aware of in Ayutthaya, where the only structures around me were crumbling ruins that had been erected around the 14th Century.
When my friend Nalin invited me to join her on a day trip to Ayutthaya, it was hard to say no. In all my time in Thailand over the last five years, I had never gone to Ayutthaya, as I thought it would be too touristy. I’m not a fan of crowds, and I will do just about anything to avoid tourist crowds.
We left Bangkok around just before lunch, just Nalin, Toey, and myself, driving along the toll highway to Ayutthaya. The air conditioning was on and I had no concept of where I was or how hot it was outside. It’s a relatively short drive, about 90 minutes in length, and we passed the time with easy conversation.
Once we arrived in Ayutthaya we went in search of lunch, I had been told there are places by the river that sell prawns the size of my hand (and bigger), and I was more than eager to try them. Nalin found a restaurant, we parked, and sat at a table by the river. When it came time to order, I left it to Nalin and Toey to decide. Always trust Thai friends when ordering food, things rarely go wrong.
With full bellies we left the restaurant and headed towards the Ayutthaya Historical Site, a must see when you’re short on time, but still, and to visit ruins. Ayutthaya, the Siamese Kingdom from 1351 to 1767, and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.
It was mid-afternoon when we arrived at the historical park, and the sun was at its peak as we parked the car, bought our tickets (50 THB for foreigners, 10 THB for locals), and began exploring. The park, thankfully, wasn’t too busy, but the sun was hot and soon we were walking from one shady spot to another. I love visiting historical ruins, at times I wish I could close my eyes and go back in time, to see these incredible sites when they were in their prime. Although, I’m not too sure what they would think of me!
With sweat dripping from my brow, and just about every pore on my face, I climbed back into Nalin’s car and took a big gulp of water. After stopping at a more modern temple, we made our way back to Bangkok, driving past rice fields, and stands to sell candy floss.
I love being back in Thailand, this country is so fascinating. I definitely need to go back to Ayutthaya and explore some more. I’ve been told that the Thai people usually visit 9 temples on the same day, NINE! Not sure I can meet Thai standards, but I can always try.
During my time in Thailand, I used the Lonely Planet guide, which was quite helpful in terms of the base planning – a good option for getting the basics together. Once that is done, I highly recommend speaking to locals and fellow travellers for up-to-date tips and advice.