Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Wat I've Been Doing - Feb 05 - Feb 07

I have not kept up my Vietnam and Cambodia trip blog for two reasons. First, I lost my wallet in Ha Noi and had to spend time getting replacement credit cards, etc. and Second, the tour just kept me too busy to write anything after downloading all the pictures I took every day.  I'm now off the tour and on a short tour of my own in Ayutthaya, Thailand.  This is an old capital that was a thriving metropolis until 1767, when the Burmese attacked it forcing the capital to move to what is now Bangkok.

In any event, when it was thriving there were a large number of temples (wats) built to honor Buddha. Some are still standing and some are just piles of stone and bricks now.There is no doubt in my mind after this trip that Buddha set off a building spree in South East Asia that more than rivals the cathedral building in Europe in the middle ages.  This was in about the same period with both Angkor in Cambodia in the 10th -12 th centuries and Ayutthaya in the 13th to 18th.

Baan Thai House
I arrived in Bangkok at about 10 PM after a flight from Phnom Penh. Being 75 has some advantages as there is a priority immigration line in the airport for those over 70.  They took extra pity on me and shunted several of us into the diplomatic line, which was otherwise unused.  I stayed at the Novotel at Bangkok airport overnight and hired a taxi to take me for the 90 minute ride to Ayutthaya.  When I arrived, I checked in at the Baan Thai House and about 11:30 headed for town planning to rent a bike and tour the wats.  I was soon disabused of this notion by a tour guide who offered me his three hour tour for 600 baht (~$18).  After the tour was over, I was glad I had accepted.  The wats are spread over a large area which I never could have covered in three hours, if I hadn't died of heat prostration first. I recorded the tour on a GPS program on my iPhone and it was over 19 miles.

I will show a few of the sights I saw on the tour here.
Wat Yai Chai Mongkhorn

Wat Yai Chai Mongkhornption

Wat Chaiwatthanaram

The tour ended at 3:15 and I was exhausted, hot, and sweaty and the one bottle of water I had with me was almost enough.

Wat Lokayasutharam (Reclining Bhuddha)
 Some more wats from yesterday
Wat Worapho

Phra Monkhon Bophit

Phra Wihan
These pictures are about half of what I saw yesterday, and we didn't even begin to cover the territory. I think the guide forgot that I had bargained for three hours and he was taking me to more and more. Finally, I was too tired and hot to go any further at slightly after three hours and I asked him when the tour was going to end and was this all included for the 600 baht. No he said, I was into the fourth hour and I now owed him 800 baht. I was a little upset, which he noticed, and asked to be taken back to Baan Thai House, which we were fairly near at the time. I gave him 700B, which he accepted and we parted company. I retreated to my air conditioned haven to await the dinner hour.

After a dinner of Green Chicken Curry (very spicy) at the hotel, moderated by a bottle of Singha Beer and a dish of mocha chip ice cream, I retired to my room to download pictures and tag them with the names of the individual wats, which I had recorded on the way. 

The next day (Feb 07), I started out right after breakfast to go over to the main part of town, look around, and check out my ride back.  I had decided upon a minivan shuttle to the center of Bangkok, from where I could get a cab to my hotel.  I had read that they did not allow a lot of luggage and I have a 25" suitcase and a backpack. We agreed that the luggage would be a second passenger, which I suspected. The fare per passenger is only 60 Baht ($1.80), so all told, it would be less than one tenth of the taxi cost.

Getting from Baan Thai House to the center of town by foot involves walking about 700 meters to the ferry dock and taking the ferry across.  The ferry is 4 baht each way.  I walked through town and actually went out to a couple of the wats I saw yesterday.  I logged 5.6 miles of walking before lunch.  Here are some pictures from today.
Ferry across the river. This river flooded last fall and swept over my B&B which is quite a way away

Downtown Ayutthaya

Tourists on an elephant ride
Tuk-Tuk, which is a comon means of local transportation

Intercity bus to Bangkok

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