Friday, 16 October 2015


My final day in Bangkok my friend had to head back to her current home so I decided to get out of the city and visit the ruins at Ayutthaya. My friend told me about them and informed me I could easily get a train there and back and see it in one day. I was intrigued about spending the day away from the city and happily postponed my planned trip to the art gallery. I got to the station quite early but I was glad as it meant I was one of the first on the train and managed to secure a seat for the 2 hour journey. One woman did decide to use my arm rest as a seat but when she kept shifting further and further back I had enough. I refused to move my shoulder and the lady beside me nodded approvingly. The woman didn’t get the hint so the approving local lady had a few words and she moved on! I was very grateful and happy I could at least say thank you in Thai thanks ot my Thai friends at the meditation house. Therefore when a few stops later a man got on with three children and she made room for the littlest one of them to sit I was more than happy to shuffle the other way. Before I knew it I had a small girl leaning her head on me sound asleep. Now I’m not overly fond of children as in hospo I’ve seen them at their worst but this little girl sat quietly and ever so properly until she fell asleep making it impossible to mind and did my best to stay still so as not to wake her up.

At the end of my journey I followed the crowds across the road and dug out my phone. Right enough they were heading in the direction I wanted to go according to google maps and trip adviser. I’d had two hours on a train and had made good use of them planning which spots I might want to visit. 5 Bhat got me across the river but I decided against hiring a bike as cycling is not a joyful activity for me (spry bro, I know you consider that blasphemy). I happily walked along the streets happy to meander along to the first set of ruins. I was heading to Wat Mahathat but decided to visit the ruins beside it first because they looked interesting but also nice and quiet. It didn’t take me long to investigate but the day was heating up and I had had a long journey so I though it would be a good idea to get a cold drink and some more water. I crossed the road to a cafe thinking that if I sat I would have time to reapply my sunscreen. After burning my back in Malaysia I had been applying it religiously every morning but horror of horrors I had forgotten it! I was extra glad I had applied it well that morning before leaving the hostel and decided not to let it ruin my day. I cooled down  with a very tasty fruit freeze which looked and tasted like some kind of frozen smoothie/fruit salad combo.

Rested and re-hydrated I headed back out to find the rest of the ruins. Wat Mahathat was busier than the neighboring ruins as it had the famous Buddha head in a tree. I’m not sure what I was expecting but as different as it was I don’t think it ranks as one of the most interesting things I’ve ever seen. The rest of the temple was interesting though and it was worth the 50 Bhat they charge you to get in. Also being Wat Mahathat there was a beautiful park which I walked through to get to Wat Phra Ram and the historical park. The park itself had the odd ruin and by the time I got to the park I was more interested in Wihan Phramongkhon. This was a working temple and as well as being beautiful I was drawn by a familiar chant. They were chanting in Pali and I recognised the words from my time at the meditation house. The temple was busy with worshipers and tourists so I didn’t stay long but it was interesting to see a temple being used as a temple not a tourist attraction.

My next stop was Wat Chai Watthanaram which was an hours walk away. At this point you might think I was wishing I had hired a bike but my day was costing me very little so I gladly paid a tuk tuk driver to take me there. At Wat Chai Watthanaram it was easier to see where the temple would have been and to imaging what it may have looked like long ago. Even though they were ruins I still felt that these were special places, though maybe that was the lack of people. Don’t get me wrong there were people about but nothing like the crowds I had become accustomed to in Bangkok. Yes, getting out of the city was indeed a brilliant idea. I splashed out on another tuk tuk to take me to see the Reclining Buddha. It was difficult to compare it to the one I had seen the day before but it looked just as huge even though this one was out in the open and the stone not decorated. From there I walked back to Wat Chai Watthanaram and from there back to the station. According to the internet I had made it back in time for the rapid train but was told no, next train was actually in an hour. Oh well, that gave me time for dinner then. Across the road from the station 40 Bhat bought me enough Pad Thai to feed a small army. The lovely cook and I had one of those stilted conversations I was becoming used to when we are both trying to be friendly but neither of us speak the others language so mostly there is just a lot of smiling. I don’t know if it was this or she thought I needed feeding up but tasty as it was I struggled to finish it however I did because it was delicious and I will not waste good food. I bought some fruit and water for the long journey home and went back to the station to try figure out where my train would come from. On arrival I figured the platform with all the backpacker looking people would be a good bet.

I wasn’t as lucky on the way home and had to stand for most of the journey but my boredom was alleviated by my discworld audiobook (my iPod was such a good last minute investment) and my fascination with the case the boy sitting near me had. I could see there was something alive in there and it looked like a case you’d carry a pet in but I never did figure out what it was. So ended my day out of the city; a completely successful and interesting day indeed.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Peace in the City

We had planned on visiting the famous Chatachak market but since we had spent the day before at various other markets we decided to give it a miss. I had a feeling that this was a city I would be seeing again so I was happy re-think our day. This time I went on the breakfast run soon we on our way to Lumphini Park where we hired a paddle boat and went out on to the lake. It was a nice change of pace and I was glad we made the effort to go. However the park was quite small and I felt there was only so much we could do there. I was still keen to see the reclining Buddha but my friend wanted to a lazy day in the park so we happily decided to go our separate ways and meet up for dinner in the evening.

Once at the temple I was glad I had made the effort. The Buddha was huge and though busy I was able to get a few shots that I hoped might convey just how big. I also paid a 20 Bhat donation to drop coins in the 108 bowls along the wall behind the Buddha which is meant to being good luck. I’m fairly sure I was meant to wish for something but I didn’t feel the need so just enjoyed the sound of the coins dropping into the bowls and hoped for general good things to keep occurring in my life.

Once through the temple I put my shoes on and went for a walk. The grounds were peaceful and felt larger than any I had walked though before, though being me I was probably going round in circles a lot. Many people look at the Reclining Buddha and leave so the surrounding grounds were peaceful and there were times when it felt like I had the whole place to myself. As well as being the home of the reclining Buddha Wat Pho is the home of many, many Buddhas. I think I read that they had been collected from all over Thailand in order to be restored. Whether or not I recollect correctly there were a lot of them. As well as the lines of Buddha statues there were four temples. One was quieter than the rest and I took the opportunity to attempt to meditate. Though I was keen to keep practicing my meditation I was finding it difficult to find suitable places. The temple was quietish and with a guard keeping an eye out so I put my bags on my crossed legs and with my hands on top of them I felt it was safe enough to try. I wasn’t sure how appropriate it was but I noticed on my way out a Thai lady was doing the same thing so I reckon I was ok in trying.

I continued my explorations of the many Buddhas and the architecture then when I realised I still had plenty of time before I was due to meet my friend I returned to the quiet temple and attempted to mediate once more. After my second more successful meditation I felt very peaceful so when I looked on my map and saw there was a park close by I decided to go have a look. Saranrom Park was originally a Royal Garden so it is nicely landscaped and still well maintained. Though it’s close to two major attractions it was blissfully quiet. There were a quite a few Thai people and the odd tourist like myself but we were all well spread out. There was a stone pagoda which I noticed looked nice and cool. A group of Thai people were practicing their massage techniques and a likely looking backpacker was having a snooze but I reckoned there was room for me to relax too. Since the group practicing were discussing their efforts I felt comfortable enough to dig out my phone and practice my Spanish in the park. I rested my legs a while then decided to see what else the park had to offer. It’s not large but a very pleasant place, I can see why the local people would be drawn there to run or practice Thai Chi. 

It was a very peaceful and restful day but I was still happy to return to the hostel before meeting my friend for dinner as I had walked around the temple a fair bit before exploring the park. Depsite having to take them off at repeatedly I was glad I had chosen to wear my Merrells and not my flip-flops that day! I made it back to the hostel just in time before the rain started and was happy to take a quick nap before getting ready to return to the Sukhumvit area where we would be meeting for dinner. My friend had found an Irish bar that served good ol’ English food and had live music. The food I could take or leave but the music interested me. Most importantly though it was inside and close to the BTS!

On arrival I found us a table and looked at the menu. Whilst I hadn’t been overly bothered about the food the menu did look good and I was soon looking forward to a sausage sandwich and a glass of wine. The food turned out to be good, even the fries which I happily poured vinegar all ove. The music turned out to be worth a listen. As well as being a good guitarist  the bloke also had a nice voice and sang lots of old favourites. We happily sat for a few hours discussing our separate days activities before heading towards Soi Cowboy to see what all the fuss was about. Neither of us are big drinkers so we were only planning to go look but even then I felt bad. The old men hanging on the young girls seemed wrong to me and the large groups of scantily clad girls outside the clubs just made me feel sorry for them. I was happy when my friend said she had seen enough and we were on our way back to the hostel.