Saturday, October 27, 2007

Bangkok Day 2: Ayutthaya

The thing about travelling overseas is that you're obliged to buy something back for your family members, and for your closer friends. I dunno how that tradition comes from - it apparently isn't an Asian-only thing - but it feels like a kind of penance to me.

Perhaps, in the old days when overseas travel is highly privileged - in exchange for the thrill of going overseas, one is obliged to bring back items for those who are unable to go out, so as to dampen the feelings of jealousy and inadequacy.

But nowadays, it just doesn't mean much. Receiving a, say, Thailand keychain when one hasn't been there is just weird. You can't really use it or people would assume that you've went there, and you gotta tell your friends over and over again that it wasn't you but another friend who went there.

Worst thing is, it's intrusive to travel, having to rack our minds to think of what to buy for our friends. And a big waste of money, buying each other things we don't really like.

8.30am in the morning, refreshed. The hotel room was quiet and comfortable except for the rock-hard bed.

Breakfast at the hotel is a modest, but tasty affair. While some of the dishes were obvious misses - usually the noodle stuff, there's either pancakes or French toast, and sunny side ups every day. And meatier stuff like ham, bacon and sausages.

Plan: Since the weather is good, BTS to Victory Monument and we'll take the minivan to Ayutthya, the old capital of Thailand in the 1300s.

Victory Monument is surrounded by street shops and privately-run minivans that take both locals and tourists to various outskirt areas.

1h later, 60 baht poorer and a bumpy ride later, we reached Ayutthya, where the signboards don't have English words and everything's sort of a maze.

Walked on and on, with only the map to guide us. And then we reached the Wat Ratchaburana where the most complete stupa from the 1400s is supposedly found.

The stupa.

You can climb up to the top via stairs, and there's this really dark and deep flight of stairs that lead to some murals painted in that era. This flight of steps is scarily steep, and well, if you fall you're a goner. Hardly anyone ventured inside. Not even me.

And then a long walk to Wat Phra Si Sanphet, or the old Grand Palace. And when I say long, I mean a totally exhausting trek in the blisteringly hot midday sun.

Took the van back at 60 baht, and this time round, we got an old van which was bumpy and uncomfortable and stuffy. What's worse is being stuck in Bangkok traffic. Felt tired and woozy and uncomfortable. And we got off, we looked for food the first thing.

There's a really cheap place around Victory Monument that sells noodles at 12 baht onwards. Got something more posh at 39 baht - this is noodles cooked in some Japanese sauce and with bacon.

Walked past this stall, and smelled the aroma of freshly baked coconut confectionery. Dunno the name of it, but it sure is tasty!

Walked past King Power, which is, like, the monopoly of duty-free shops for tourists in Bangkok. Coaches unloading pack after pack of tourists who amble the place aimlessly after realising that the prices are exorbitant.

BTS to Patpong area at Silom, where we got A&W for dinner.

Sadly, it's a shadow of what I used to eat as a kid in Ang Mo Kio. The waffle wasn't too crispy, and the curly fries no longer come in nice crispy spirals. I gotta admit I'm a little disappointed, after looking forward to eating A&W again.

Walked around the red light district en route to Suan Lum Night Market.

Across Lumpini Park is Suan Lum Night Market, where QY and I bought a couple of tees each.

Thirsty and tired, we took a break at a coffee place.

Thailand's coffee is thick and bitter, while their tea is orangey and tastes cinnamony. Takes some time getting used to.

Exhausted, and took the MRT then the BTS back to Big C, where stocked on alcohol and snacks. Back to the hotel, only to slump onto the bed pretty soon!

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