Bubpha had a meeting in Ayutthaya today so the plan had been that I’d go with her at half 7 in the morning so she could show me how the train system works here, before I split up from her to wander around the city for a bit. Naturally, the transport plans changed at the last minute without any indication, and we ended up getting a lift in a car with some of the other teachers also going to the conference. I guess the point is that we got there in the end though, and after I was dropped of in Ayutthaya I was looking forward to aimlessly wandering through a new city like I can so easily do in London back at home.
The crucial thing I forgot with this, however, is that London generally doesn’t have deadly levels of heat and sunlight blasting through it during the day, and my first half an hour was a hot, sweaty slog of trying to figure out somewhere to go. Bubpha had given me a map with some english translations, but it wasn’t very easy to follow and I ended up wandering through empty tourist centres and a random clothes market before nearly passing out due to the heat. Eventually I realsied I had to at least try and find somewhere with air conditioning, so i grabbed a TukTuk and instructed the driver to take me to the ‘city centre’ that i knew absolutely nothing about. Luckily, I ended up outside a department store called Amporna, and made a quick dash in to feel what seemed like a heavenly gust of air conditioning. A quick wander around the store also led me to find out that there’s a clothing company in Thailand called BJ Jeans. I can only assume that acronym doesn’t have the same connotations here as it does everywhere else in the world.
After I had got my bearings I wandered down the main street in Ayutthaya to see if I could find anything of interest, and discovered the market opposite Amporna. It mostly sold cheap clothes and street food, neither of which I was particularly in the mood for, but it was a nice, inviting and (crucially) shady environment, so I spent a bit of time walking through. My main aim, however, was to try and find some temples, and by the end of the market the only thing I’d found was a cat in a dress licking itself in a shop window.
The streets of Ayutthaya are really quite long, and my general pattern for walking down them involved 10 minutes of strolling until it became too hot to walk anymore, then getting a drink and sitting in the shade for 40 minutes, before the process repeated itself. However, eventually I had some success and stumbled across the Wat Ratcha Burana temple where I managed to get some great photos, both of the temple itself and a bird that was searching for food near to where I was sitting (all my best photos seem to be of birds for some reason.) I also later found out that many of the statues are missing their heads due to Thai people stealing them to sell the material they were made of during a financial crisis in the country, but it adds to the decayed view of the ruins overall.
After that I managed to find a pretty beautiful lake area, which is much better described through pictures than it is words.
After making a loop back to the shopping centre I had lunch and milked the air conditioning for all it was worth before meeting up with Harry and Laura, who had apparently spent most of the weekend driving to see a waterfall in a nearby province only to find out that it hadn’t been raining enough to see it. We ended up going round the same areas that I had already been through but by the time we were in Wat Racha Burana dusk had settled, so I got a chance to see the temples again in a different light.
Before heading back home we also stopped off at a night market for food, which once again reminded me how amazing the evenings can be here.
And now I’m back home, and should probably go to bed considering I need to be up for school in a few hours. It was nice to explore by myself and get some independence today, and it’s made me look forward even more to the week of travelling around Thailand I’m planning to do once this project has finished. It’s weird to think how far away that is though, and I still have two more months of teaching that I need to get through.
On a completely unrelated note, Bubpha just sent me a photo of my birthday from last week, so better late than never, I’ll leave with that.