Ayutthaya: For When You Just Need A Stroll Through History

Aytthaya Railway Station

I am a big fan of losing yourself in a place that has captured time in a perfectly preserved loop. When all of the world (and its news) gets overwhelming, there’s nothing more therapeutic than taking a stroll through a site that vibrates with the exciting hum of history. Ayutthaya is just the place you need.

Ayutthaya UNESCO Heritage Site

If you have one day to spare, and approximately THB 20, you can be well on your way to experiencing this UNESCO World Heritage Site for yourself. Even more exciting is the opportunity to fill your Instagram with stunning Lonely Planetesque photos that will make you the envy of all your friends. All you have to do is go to the Bangkok Railway station at Hua Lamphong, and buy a ticket for the 8:30am train for THB 20 (you can buy tickets to a fancier carriage with AC but where’s the fun in that?).

Bangkok Railway Station

Here’s a pro tip for you: If you’re at the station before 8:00, you will witness first-hand something completely awe-inspiring. At 8:00 sharp, everyone stops what they’re doing, stands in attention, and lets their inner patriot shine to the sound of the Thai National Anthem, playing loud and proud throughout the station. If you’re caught unawares, and on the verge of a panic attack, put all thoughts of ‘No Escape’ out of your head (it was a movie based on FICTION!), and take it all in. While the gathering of all the guards can be a bit overwhelming, this is just as essential a part of the true Thailand experience as eating a Mango Sticky Rice is.

Train to Ayutthaya

The journey to Ayutthaya is in itself an adventure. The trains are old fashioned, and travelling on it doesn’t just take you to your destination, it also takes you back in time. It’s slow going but it’s the perfect way to ease into the Ayutthaya experience. If you’ve brought a book, it’s going to have to get used to feeling ignored. Your co-passengers and the incredible views outside the window weave a captivating story you won’t want to miss.

Ayutthaya Historical Park

The Ayutthaya Historical Park is technically an island and so you can rent bikes just outside the railway station, or try to navigate your way through a 100 tuk tuk drivers trying to catch your attention. My favourite way to get to the island is to cross the road from the railway station and walk down a small road till I see the Chao Praya River. Once at the river, just pay THB 5 and a kick-ass female driver will ferry you across to the island. If you’re a bit intimated by the lack of tourists using this option, don’t worry. It’s perfectly safe, albeit a bit unknown.

Wat Mahatat Ayutthaya Historical Park
Wat Mahatat: A restored Buddha, surrounded by partially recovered Buddha statues. 

Once you’re at the other side of the river, you can rent a cycle for THB 50, or a scooter for THB 200 a day. We went for the cycle option as it really helps give you a real glimpse into the ancient city. Ayutthaya is easy to navigate, but if your sense of direction is a bit off, your cycle will often come with a map.

Wat Mahatat Ayutthaya
Wat Mahatat: One of the most photographed ruins.

Walking into the historical park is mind-blowing. They are ruins, yes. But they are so monumental that your brain will automatically fill in the missing gaps. You can almost imagine the glory of Ayutthaya as it was in its prime. This was the capital of Thailand until the 18th century until it moved to Bangkok because of Burmese invasion. 

Here are some photos of my favourite temples.

Wat Phra Si Sanphet Ayutthaya Historical Park
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
Wat Phra Si Sanphet Ayutthaya Historical Park 2
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
Wat Lokayasutharam Ayutthaya Historical Park
Wat Lokayasutharam: Nothing can prepare you for the sheer size of this masterpiece.
Ayutthaya Traffic Jam
Ayutthaya’s version of a traffic jam.

The historical park is home to a myriad of temples, each with its own unique charm so you’ll never get bored. If you’re looking for a change of pace, you can always rent a ride on an elephant. When in Thailand, eh?

I’m Moved

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Sometimes the sunsets here are like paintings. Not the abstract stuff that makes you go WTF, but a soul stirring classic!

In fact, I was so moved, I’ve changed domains. Please change your bookmarks to thislabyrinthiroam.blog ❤ Show some love!

The Thirtieth Year

I’ve done it. I’ve managed to reach the grand old age of thirty by failing at every societal standard laid before me – my index finger is ringless, my hair is fashionably grey, my uterus is rotting to the sound of my spinsterhood and I have dared to have a good time nonetheless. Who would’ve thought that being a disgrace would be such an adventure? They should’ve made it less exciting, and catered it to my attraction to procrastination.

My 2016 looked like this:

Yay! #books #bookstagram #bookworm #goodreads

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1. I managed to read 48 books I can officially claim to have read. There are some I can’t claim to have read on account of threat of jail. Aren’t banned books the best?

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2. I got to hang out with sea-turtles!

3. I got the Broseph to come visit me. We had so much fun, his trip ended with me getting pneumonia (fun times!)

I just died and went to heaven! #panda

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4. I got to see a Panda LIVE!!!

5. I got to hug my baby niece and spend 2 whole weeks being bullied by her (it was the best feeling in the world!)

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Thailand
kerala-2016
Kerala, India.

5. I got to see 15 new places in Thailand. Not to mention the great towns we got to explore in Kerala, India, over Christmas.

2017 is my 30th year and I intend to go after adventure and happiness with the same (if not slightly more exaggerated) vigour! After all, I read some potty graffiti recently that said “Do more of what you love!”. If that’s not a sign, then I don’t know what is.

Happy 2017 all! Let’s make this one count!

Marking Anniversaries

Bangkok Skyline
The view of downtown Bangkok from my office window

I don’t have a track record of remembering anniversaries and important dates. These days, you don’t need to, thanks to Facebook and Time Hop. All you need to do is put up a post about it and it’ll remind you every year ‘On This Day’.

Very Convenient.

However, I have been trying to be less rubbish at it. I read somewhere that we are potentially the only species on the planet who’s aware of the passage of time and that just blew my mind. We know time flies, we know life is fleeting, and if we didn’t know any better, we’d just be stuck in a routine where one day is just like the other. I understand now, more than ever, why people get into knots about remembering anniversaries.

Today I have been in Bangkok and at this job for a whole year. If I didn’t take the time to look out the window and take stock of where I was standing right then and what journey got me there, would I be giving life the credit that it deserves? Just thinking back to when I first got here and how life has changed in the span of only 365 days makes me speechless. Even when everyday seems the same, you’re never the same person you were when you first started.

Life is never dull and constant.

Sometimes, to appreciate the true complexity and beauty of life, and your own transformation to the beat of the seconds hand, you just need to take a step back and really look.

Life is an amazing journey!

A stormy evening sky in Bangkok
A stormy evening sky in Bangkok

Happy Anniversary Bangkok. You have been challenging and eye-opening, you have been a comfort and infuriating. In not being home, and in sometimes being the exact opposite of comforting, you’ve raised me to be stronger, better, more resilient. In kicking me out of my comfort zone every single day, you’ve made my life throb with excitement! Thank you for a wonderful year!

Koh Sichang

A lot of people warned us against going to this island as there was nothing to see or do. It is a quick day-trip for locals to spend the day at a beach without it hurting the bank and without it being a free show of the dreadful farang infestion (their words, not mine!). However, Koh Sichang blew our minds. 

Yes, it is a small fisherman’s village and in that lies all the magic. It is small, tight knit and laid back. And while there is development in terms of restaurants and roads, it still is a place stuck in a magical time bubble. It is beautiful. 

Only 100kms from Bangkok aka 2 hours by an air-conditioned bus from the Ekkamai bus station and a 40 minute ferry and you are far, far, FAR away from the madding crowd. Pure bliss. 

The ferry is at the Sri Racha pier, the name sounds familiar cause they are also a hot sauce we all love (there is a chilli factory in town that we didn’t, unfortuntaley, get to explore). You get off the bus at Robinson’s – you’ll know when half the passengers get off here. A short 50 baht tuk tuk ride away and you’re at a park that also acts as a pier. 

Depending on what time of day you come, you get to climb up or down to a boat. It’s quite adventurous navigating the tide. 

And then you reach Koh Sichang. While I can wax ad nauseum about how amazing it was, I’ll let the pictures do the talking. If I am guilty of not taking to Thailand the way most people do, I am slowly changing my ways. 

Koh Sichang (3)
First view of the island – an unused lighthouse (Unseen, billions of trade ships and barges)
Koh Sichang (2)
Shrimp boats aka the chariot that makes divine seafood grills a reality
Koh Sichang (4)
Unique ‘tuk tuks’ that are half way between a bike and an auto.
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A birds eye view of Koh Sichang
The Yellow Buddha, guardian of Koh Sichang
The Yellow Buddha, guardian of Koh Sichang
Koh Sichang (22)
The amazing views he gets to enjoy everyday
Koh Sichang (24)
My noble steed. Allowed us to explore the island from end to end twice over
A 1000 year old tree brought to the island from Bodghaya in India.
A 1000 year old tree brought to the island from Bodghaya in India.
View from the old chinese temple at the top of Koh Sichang
View from the old chinese temple at the top of Koh Sichang
You can see the end of the island from this point in Koh Sichang
You can see the end of the island from this point in Koh Sichang
A shrine to Queen Elizabeth?
A shrine to Queen Elizabeth?
And another to Septa Unella from Game of Thrones? #SHAME
And another to Septa Unella from Game of Thrones? #SHAME
Wishes hanging from the cave inside the old Chinese Temple
Wishes hanging from the cave inside the old Chinese Temple
Guardian of the wishes at the old Chinese Temple at Koh Sichang
Guardian of the wishes at the old Chinese Temple at Koh Sichang
LOW TIDE!
LOW TIDE!
Views of the 'only' beach in Koh Sichang.
Views of the ‘only’ beach in Koh Sichang.
Koh Sichang (29)
Some private beaches that require a bit of effort to find
Some paths begging to be explored
Some paths begging to be explored

Koh Sichang (19)

You are rewarded with spectacular views if you trek a bit
You are rewarded with spectacular views if you trek a bit through the volcanic terrain
Someone's been stacking rocks. A bit scary!
Someone’s been stacking rocks. A bit scary!
Another relic from India - Buddha's Footprint
Another relic from India – Buddha’s Footprint
Some private beaches that require a bit of effort to find
Another beach
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If you can capture a moment of zen in a picture, this would be it