Second Stop: Ayutthaya, Thailand
Well, I'm back. My brand spanking new mac has finally arrived and I can now upload all of my fun trips that have happened since October! I believe our last photo post left off with Joe and I enjoying drinks in Bangkok. Now back to the rest of the trip...Ayutthaya, Thailand.
Fun fact - Ayutthaya was the capital of Thailand before Bangkok was. It's about an hour drive outside of Bangkok and reminded me of Surat except for the fact that I felt like I could breathe fresh air, there were gorgeous temples on every road and there were other foreigners actually visiting the city, not just passing through on their way to an island...so I guess it was nothing like Surat.
Joe and I rented a bike from the hostel we stayed at - Somjai Place - located right in the middle of the city. We decided to grab a map and make an adventure of the day! We stopped at a few of the big temples that my friend Dani Jo had recommended and were able to navigate the city quite easily.
Elephant rides were available around the city for two hours. Two hours on an elephant midday in Thailand in the sun? No thank you! We managed to cut it down to a 20 minute trek passed the local 7/11. While I wouldn't call myself an animal lover or activist by any means I definitely felt bad riding these beauties in the middle of the road. If I were to do this again it would definitely be in a different, more natural environment...but still, it was an experience!
Since temples require a lot of walking up and down sta...ok, fine, I just like to pamper myself. I convinced Joe to sit with me for a half hour while tiny fish ate away at the dead skin on our feet. (I apologize if you are reading this before lunch and just lost your appetite). I expected these little buggers to hurt but in fact they were so ticklish! It was a strange sensation that wasn't necessarily comfortable or uncomfortable...just strange. I recommend it!
Still not sure what the rooster obsession is at temples but my my were there a lot here. Joe was almost certain that they could hold the Guinness record for most rooster statues in one area. Fat ones, tall ones, some as big as your head...I may have just gotten carried away singing a tune from The Lion King.
Day Two included more temples and oh look at that! More pampering! Fortunately, I was introduced to the world of luxury at a young age when my cousin would take me for spa days at the age of 12. I think it was my duty to pass on this torch to Joe, who was a bit weary at first but then agreed that pampering on vacation is the way to go...you're welcome.
The first day, I had noticed there were "fortunes" in the temples, but I couldn't figure out how to choose your fortune. Was is based on birth sign? Today's date? I had no idea. But I did see people shaking a container of sticks until one fell out over and over again. I finally put two and two together and noticed that each stick had a number on it - correlating to the fortune on the wall.
At the next temple, Joe and I decided to make our offerings to Buddha, bow and find our fortune. However, unlike the temple the previous day where the fortunes were listed in English and Thai...these were only posted in Thai.
Driving around Ayutthaya is fairly simple since you can circle the entire island on one main road. We drove from temple to temple and then realized we hadn't eaten anything! As we zoomed past some restaurants we noticed a spot with a great view of the river and a crowd large enough to tell me that this place was a winner - even in the local's books.
We made it to the last temple on our list just before it started to get dark - thank god otherwise I would've never made it up all those stairs! I really enjoyed the temples because they weren't roped off and stuffy. They embraced the life around them and each had some kind of livestock living on its land. This one had a few cows!
After two days of temple walking and a few long hours of pampering we were ready for a bucket and some live music! Auytthaya had a great street for such things, aptly named "Soi Farang" or "Foreigners Street". We order some drinks and pizzas at the local places and listened to some great American songs covered by an awesome Thai band. Dani Jo, I know why you loved this place so much!