Saturday, March 12, 2011

Bangkok & Ayuthaya

By Kara and Mark

We had thought that Phnom Penh was a big bustling city, but Bangkok is in a category all its own. It is a HUGE city of about 11 million people – that’s more than New York City. And a huge tourist destination too. At the conclusion of the "VIP" mini-van ride from the border, we got our first taste of the traffic in Bangkok. It took us over an hour to wind our way through the city, dropping off passengers, and ultimately ending up at Khao San Road - the mecca for backpackers. It was here that we enjoyed our first taste of Thai food. We knew we'd regret it later, but we couldn't pass up a wonderful plate of Phad Thai and another plate of grilled chicken and vegetables.

This was the Khao San Road area during mid-day.  It's gets much, much crazier in the evening.  And it's incredibly difficult to capture it in a few photos.

The next day we took a bus up north to Ayuthaya to see some more ancient temples. However, our energy was still low, it was about 95 degrees, we were both wearing pants because we thought we had to in order to see temples (really, it was only necessary at one that we visited, which we could have easily avoided), and after seeing the temples in Siem Reap, the ones in Ayuthaya paled in comparison. I would say the highlight of the day was seeing some elephants and seeing a little wild crocodile in a river. I'm sure the ancient city is noteworthy, but unfortunately for us the day just felt underwhelming.

Welcome to Ayuthaya

Elephant rides - would have been a wonderful (albeit expensive) way to get out of the 95 degree sun!  We chose not to indulge.

An incredibly large sleeping Buddha at one of the Wats (temples) of Ayuthaya

Isn't that awesome!  These are the little versions of tuk-tuks that drivers used in the Ayuthaya area.  We rode in the back of one similar to this, but ours was just plain green.

The next day we were going to leave on an overnight bus at 6:00pm but we had the majority of the day to spend in Bangkok. We had planned on seeing all the temples and touristy things but after the previous days experience we had a change of heart. We decided to have a more relaxing day exploring Bangkok – riding the Sky Train (kind of like the monorail, but functional and useful), riding a river ferry, and just wandering around. It was delightful. We still hadn’t quite regained our energy, but we pushed through and made of a day of it. We were a bit frustrated that we still didn’t have our appetites back with all of the delicious and pretty cheap food surrounding us, but that didn't stop us from ordering anyway. But suddenly things like Club Sandwiches and plates of just fried rice sounded good...we were beginning to wonder when we'd have the stomach to dive into the spicy curries and noodle dishes we'd been craving for months. We were hoping soon, because in the next leg of our trip we'd be encountering a lot of down-time (read: time for checking out all the beach restaurants), and we knew we were going to take a cooking class. It was time to leave Bangkok...

More on our trip through Thailand coming soon...

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