Ayuthaya

Today meant an early rise (5:30am) despite the beer… I mean jetlag telling me I didn’t really want to get up. We’d booked a coach trip to Ayuthaya, the old capital of Siam, and it picked up from the Davis at 6:30.

Once we were on the go, it was OK and the guide was informative and cheery is a little paranoid about tourists wandering off and missing the coach. Lots of trivia was learned, such as Bangkok meaning “City of Olives” (historically it was a major source of the fruit and oil), each day of the week in Thailand has a colour (the king is associated with yellow as he was born on a Monday)… that kind of thing. Our first stop was at one of the royal palaces and, boy, did it put Buck House to shame.

Similarly to Bangkok, architectural styles clashed everywhere. The king had certain parts built as he’d been to, say, Italy and liked their footbridges. Yet it all hangs together beautifully, with pagodas and dining halls and bedrooms and what looks like a lighthouse. The grounds are enormous and we really could have done with more time to walk around. Tim, Tracy and Sharon (Lou’s other cousin who’s in Thailand right now) visited an area we missed, and the ladies had to don sarongs to enter. The lakes were all full of fish and again, it was possible to hand over a few bhat to feed them. I suppose typically for a royal family, it shows how the “other half” live but it genuinely is much more impressive and better tended than the royal residences in the UK. Of course, I’ve grown up with them so they’re slightly old hat now!

Next stop was Ayuthaya itself where we saw two sets of ruins (destroyed by the Burmese when they sacked the city 350 years ago), a temple and several elephants. And ate pomelo, which is some weird cross between grapefruit and orange. Kind of. It’s lovely anyway. Following on from great traditions worldwide, one of the temple rooms had bats in its belfry. Sadly, it was too dark inside to get decent pictures but I did avoid being pooped on.

Finally, we drove to the Chao Phaya river and sailed down it in a 3-level boat with lunch and do on provided. Very relaxing it was, too. Especially indoors with aircon! Tim, Tracey and Sharon went varying shaded of red on the sun loungers on the deck.

On our return we once again headed for The Barbican for dinner, then on to O’Reilley’s for some classic Irish muic for St Paddy’s night… a Thai Beatles cover band. They were good till they stopped for 15 minutes for a beer and failed to recover.

After much random taxiing and wandering we located another pub with a one-man acoustic guitar “band” belting out pretty much everything he knew. Huge crowd, great atmosphere, nightmare to get served. Just like home.

Much sleep was needed that night. Thankfully, Tiger Beer helped me drift off nicely.

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