Ayutthaya is a small town just north of Bangkok. After the frenzy of the Capitol, Ayutthaya seems like another planet, a quiet bliss of slow lazy heat and riverside villagers. The train north to Chiang Mai does several stops along the way, this being one of the more well known because of its old temples (one of Thailand’s many UNESCO sites).
Built in the traditional 14th century Buddhist style, the temples are stunning gems in the middle of an old town. Built by kings of old, they have the distinctive pagodas, mondops, and chedis. It’s small enough to walk around without needing a tuk tuk or bicycle, being careful of the heat and occasional wild dog pack. James and I got a map from our hostel and took a stroll from Wat Mahathat to Wat Phra Ram. There’s a 50 baht entry fee for each temple, so you can see as little or as many as you feel the need to. Look out for the elephants being ridden around the streets. I urge you not to ride them but instead appreciate them from our view below, as we were always meant to.
Other things we discovered were banana pancakes (rotee). Which were a dough folded with banana and egg, sizzled in butter, and covered in sugar and condensed milk -deliciously heart clogging. The temples skirt an open park with small lakes, bridges and streams, a nice walk back in the quiet afternoon. In the night, teenagers group together on their mopeds and chatter, children run around the stalls, and adults sell their food or snacks to passers by. The food of course was delicious and incomprehensibly cheap. Our hostel was on the island, (there’s a sort of moat around the town, with bits on either side of the water), and was equally as tranquil as the town. I found the people to be friendly, kind and happy. Ayutthaya is a definite must, an unexpected pleasure in rural Thailand.