We visited the ancient Thai capital of Ayutthaya on Friday. Ayutthaya is a UNESCO Heritage site, and we’ve tried to make a point to visit such sites when we travel. Our tour made a stop at Bang Pa-In, which is also known as the the summer palace of the Thai monarchy. At Bang Pa-In we spent an hour or so enjoying the beautiful gardens and exploring some of the buildings that were open to the public. Ola and I are agreed that we should look in to getting a summer palace.
The spirit house of Bang Pa-In Royal Palace
An overhead view of the Bang Pa-In grounds
As our guide explained, Ayutthaya fell to the Burmese army almost 250 years ago. The invading army razed the city to the ground save for a few buildings and temples which were used as command centers. Today very little remains.
The canonical Ayutthaya photo opportunity
Honestly, Ayutthaya was a little underwhelming. It’s possible that we would have had a better time if we had gone by ourselves instead of with a large group, or if our guide had been more informed and engaging. The grounds of Ayutthaya don’t really feel very different from the surrounding area – it’s filled with roads and stoplights and houses and people going about normal city life activities, which wasn’t what I was expecting. The ruins we did see were pretty neat, but we both agree that we’ve been to better UNESCO sites.
Today is our last day in Bangkok. Earlier we visited the Grand Palace and had an incredibly delicious lunch for the equivalent of $4 USD, and now we’re at Don Muang airport waiting for a flight to Phuket. Pictures to follow when we have more time to upload.
Yesterday we took an early-morning tour to the floating market of Damnoen Saduak. Floating markets used to be a major part of Thai life before canal traffic was mostly replaced by overland travel, and now they are more of a tourist draw than a truly authentic experience. If you take it for what it is, though, then it can be enjoyable.
Vendors at the Damnoen Saduak floating market
Vendors in the floating market make clever use of the available space in their narrow wooden canoes to cook all sorts of delicious foods like deep-fried bananas, coconut pancakes, noodle soup, fried rice, etc. If a vendor’s boat is too far from the pier to reach by hand, then they use long hooked poles with a bucket on the end to pass your food to you and to collect payment. We bought mango sticky rice from a lady in a boat and went for seconds on some very tasty deep-fried bananas. We likely overpaid for the food, but it’s difficult to get too upset when you’re talking about a difference of 50¢ – the exchange rate really works in our favor here!
It’s been four days since we touched down in Bangkok. Our flight was long but pretty uneventful, and we arrived at our hotel at 2:30 AM local time after being in transit for nearly 24 hours. We are staying at the Siam @ Siam hotel, and we both agree that it’s one of the coolest hotels we’ve ever stayed in. There’s a focus on modern design, with unique touches throughout the entire place and several very trendy bars and restaurants. Our room overlooks a large stadium and has views of the downtown sprawl. There is a bar on the roof with even more incredible views, and at night you can see city lights stretching until the horizon (or at least until the haze completely obscures them). But we didn’t come to Bangkok for the hotel!
Siam @ Siam rooftop
So far we’ve seen some pretty amazing stuff. We started our first day by taking the Skytrain to the riverfront and walking through the district of Silom. The Skytrain is basically Bangkok’s version of the Seattle Monorail, except that it’s cheap, actually goes to place you care about, and is generally a useful component of a modern public transportation system. After walking through Silom we visited Wat Pho and Wat Arun. Our first taste of a Buddhist temple was Wat Pho, which is one of the more famous temples in Bangkok. The main draw is a 140 foot reclining Buddha statue, whose length makes it very difficult to photograph.
Joe in front of the Reclining Buddha, Wat Pho
We’ve arrived safely in Bangkok after a marathon 23 hours of travel. It’s 3:30 AM here, and we can’t wait to explore the city tomorrow! For now, through, we need to sleep.
Well, I’m officially done with my job at IMDb! My last day was pretty quiet, and consisted primarily of having a farewell lunch with my teammates and dealing with some final HR paperwork. I did forget an slightly important piece of electronics when I left, which created a slightly stressful situation when I realized that I no longer had an access badge and might not be able to enter the building, but thankfully my name hadn’t been removed from the “active employees” list and I was able to retrieve my camera battery charger.
All we have to do now is finish packing, say goodbye to our friends in Seattle, and get to the airport.
Our flight departs in less than 15 hours. Including a 4 hour transfer in Beijing, it will take us a total of 21 hours to arrive in Bangkok. Because we’re crossing the international date line, we’ll be arriving over two days after our departure, which is kind of strange! This will be one of the longest flights either of us has experienced in a while. Given that it’s Thanksgiving weekend we hope that tomorrow won’t be a totally crazy day at the airport!
A big thanks to all of our friends who so graciously shared their homes with Ola and I during these five weeks of homelessness. We’ve had a wonderful time reconnecting with all of the folks who we’ve missed during the last two years of living in England. We’ll see you soon!
A little backstory:
Ola and I were married in Rzeszow, Poland on October 19th, 2013. For our honeymoon we are embarking on a multi-month trip to Southeast Asia. We’ve both left our jobs, and we have no place we’re currently calling home. Our one-flight leaves at 1pm on November 30th. Our plans currently include 6 days in Bangkok. We’ll see what happens after that!