Ayutthaya was a former capital of the Siam kingdom, and the ruins of the old city are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city can be reached from Bangkok in about 2 hours. I knew there were several organized tours going there, but I wanted a more authentic experience – so I decided to take the train.
To tell the truth, my original plan was taking the train to Kanchanaburi, near the bridge over river Kwai, but when I got to the Bangkok Central train station, I was told that those trains depart from another station – on the other side of the city. So, after evaluating my options, I bought a ticket to Ayutthaya on the first available train. It was a 3rd class ticket (local train), which got me the opportunity to travel with the locals.
So I left Bangkok (with a 45 minute delay – train schedules are merely informative, but not really enforced). After dozing off a bit in the train (I was sleepy, it was early in the morning), the train gets to a stop where I can see a big sign with a map of Ayutthaya. Great, I arrived! Or so I though. Most Thai stations don’t have their names translated to English – the referred map was probably the only thing I recognized. But I soon realized that I got out of the train 1 stop earlier. I was in the middle of nowhere, still 25 km from Ayutthaya.
But (like Australians use to say), no worries. I quickly arranged a ride in the back of a motorcycle to the city. Don’t remember how exactly much I paid, but it was really cheap – 3 to 5 euros, for covering the 20 minute trip. In the end, the friendly driver even let me take a picture of him and his motorcycle.
Ayutthaya was hot. With temperatures above 32 degrees, it was probably on this point I decided I was not going to Chiang Mai after all (which is even hotter by this time). Chiang Mai, in the North, was supposed to be one of the highlights of the trip – especially for trekking. But I now realize that April is the hottest month in the region, and there’s no fun going hiking under almost 40 degrees.
Oh well – at least that gives me a reason to come back to Thailand (as not visiting Uluru Ayers Rock and the Great Ocean Road gives me good reasons to go back to Australia).
To complete my Asian experience, I got back in the train later in the day – this time it arrived 5 minutes earlier than scheduled (or maybe it was the previous train?). This time, it was packed with people – but I managed to get a nice spot between two wagons, back to Bangkok Central Station.