The next morning we decided to just have a chill out day, we were going to be in Bangkok for the next 6 days so we said we might as well just take a break and relax by the pool. We got brekkie in our regular spot, (we actually can’t remember what it was called, even though we ate there practically everyday! We just called it porridge place cause they made nice porridge… clever nickname, I know), and on the way back to the apartment, I bought 3 new t-shirts! I really spoilt myself! Our day by the pool didn’t turn out as we hoped though, as it was pretty cloudy all afternoon. It was still nice to take a break. We went to a nearby Irish bar that night to watch the Villa – Blackburn match… but I don’t really want to talk about that...
Moving on… the next day we had a spring in our step again, so decided to go and do touristy things. First of all we booked our tickets to Ko Tao for next week (we were very organised!) and then jumped in a tuk-tuk to Wat Phra Kaew. When we arrived, there were people around the entrance telling us it was closed. They didn’t look very official though so we walked around to another entrance, and sure enough we saw people going in. When we got there, we were told that our pants were too short and we’d have to rent out some long ones if we wanted to see the palace. We agreed (even though they were big hilarious clown pants!), seeing as it was the only way we were going to get in. Finally we made it inside, only to be herded straight out again along with all the other tourists! Nobody was being told what was going on, just to move along to the exits. We were raging! We couldn’t come here the last time we were in Bangkok cause we didn’t have time, and now we're finally here and we’re being herded out straight away! And, we were made pay to rent out pants!! That was the worst part. The people outside knew that everyone was going to be told to leave but they still made us pay to get long pants. We were so annoyed that we did what anyone would in the situation… that’s right, we stole the pants! We were meant to drop them off where we got them on the way out, but we just threw them into our bags and legged it! They’re hideous (actually, the sarong that Ash got is quite nice) but they’re a medal of our victory over Wat Phra Kaew! There’s a lesson for you, don’t mess with us or we’ll steal your pants!
To celebrate, we went to a nearby shopping mall and found a place that did killer crepes! Ash claims they’re the best she’s ever had! We were going to go to the cinema there too, but they only had like two screens. Instead we went to Jim Thomson’s House. It’s not, as the name suggests, just some guy’s house, it’s a Bangkok tourist attraction, and it was really nice actually. Jim Thompson was an American who developed the Thai silk industry and his house is now open to the public. It’s full of Thai sculptures and artwork and all that kind of lark. Well worth a look though.
Ok, I can’t really remember what we did the day after… I think we just chilled by the pool again and took it easy as we had planned a trip to Ayuthaya for the next day. It was sunny though! I remember that much! We probably watched some Amazing Race too that day… who knows!?
Actually, just to go off on another side note, about the toilets here, not just in Bangkok, but all over SE Asia. In a lot of places we've gone to, they have these kind of 'squatter units'. They're basically just a hole in the ground, with a place to put your feet at either side, and you just squat over the hole and do your business... and I'm not just talking about in grotty bars and poor areas, in high class shopping malls and hotels too! In some places as well, instead of toilet paper they have a kind of 'bum hose', that you just spray yourself with to clean up... (actually, they have these bum hoses almost everywhere, even in places with toilet paper). I mean, I can understand having these squatter units in poorer places where they don't have access to toilet bowls, but it's very strange seeing them in high class areas. Like, you'd walk into a fancy bathroom in a hotel somewhere and they'd have a few regular cubicles, and then a few squatters, just so you have a choice! I'm not saying our way is better or anything, if you prefer using the latter then who am I to judge?! Squatter's rights and all that...
So, our day in Ayutthaya... now, before we started planning our trip around SE Asia, neither of us had ever heard of Ayutthaya, it wasn't a place we had ever intended going to. But, if there are any Street Fighter fans out there, you will know that Sagat's stage is in front of a big reclining Buddha in Thailand. So, I made it a mission to find out where this was and go and see it. And that's where our day trip to Ayutthaya came from! It turns out that there was loads to see there too and it was, one of many, ancient capitals of Thailand, before it was destroyed by the Burmese army in 1767 (go on Burma!).
We needed a big hearty feed that morning for the day ahead, so we forsook our regular breakfast spot and went to Cool Corner, where we got pancakes, fruit, a croissant, bacon and a milkshake all for 100 Baht (about €2.50). Breakfast bargain! We ended up going there for a lot of our meals over the next few days. The food was delicious, although the staff were shocking... We jumped on a bus to Ayutthaya and when we arrived, rented out two bikes for the day. Most of the city's ruins are located on the central island, so you had to get a little boat over and back, which is fine, unless you're carrying a bike over your shoulder!
First on our list was Wat Phra Mahathat, which contains probably the most iconic image in Ayutthaya, a Buddha head engulfed by tree trunks. I don't know the story behind it, but most of the Buddha statues in the place had their heads chopped off, so I presume this was just one of them and a tree grew up around it. The heads weren't chopped off as a mark of disrespect though. Whenever the Thais were being attacked, they used to cover their gold statues in plaster so that they wouldn't look valuable to looters. The heads were simply chopped off by their enemies to see if the statues were golden inside!
(When I took this photo, the security guards made Ash kneel down as it's forbidden to take a photograph of yourself standing over a Buddha statue!)
Next, we went to Wat Ratburana which we had to pay to get into! We were pretty annoyed at this seeing as we didn't have to pay to get into Wat Mahathat. (We later found out that you actually did have to pay to get into Wat Mahathat too but when we were going in, we couldn't find the entrance so we just walked through a hedge instead...). We also went along to Wat Thammikarat, Wat Suwannawat and Wat Chutalkinaboutwillis! (I'm sorry, that was rubbish. RIP Gary Coleman)
Actually, at Wat Thammikarat we were attacked by a pack of dogs! Well, I say attacked, they didn't actually touch us... but it was close! When we were locking up our bikes, about 3 or 4 dogs came out and started barking at us. We just ignored them and walked on. As we were walking though, dogs just kept coming out of nowhere until we were completely surrounded by a good 11 or 12 barking dogs! I'm not even afraid of dogs but I was getting a bit unnerved at this point. We walked along as calmly as possible, trying not to turn our backs on any of them, and we finally made it out to a public area. As we were leaving the place, I had to go back and get a picture of them for our records, to show how vicious they were. I said I'd take it as I was cycling past, just in case they came at me again, but as I went by, there wasn't a peep out of them! They were just frolicking on the grass! They obviously knew my plan and were trying to make a fool out of me. Well, it worked... Here'a a photo of some happy dogs!
We then headed over to Wat Phra Si Sanphet, which was pretty nice, but ended up being by far our favourite temple of the day, cause we just went around taking pictures of Frankie in various locations. He even made friends with a local puppy who was following us around!
We took a load of action shots of him too! One of us would walk up to the top of the steps and throw him down, while the other would take a picture of him flying through the air. Poor Frankie got an awful doing that day...