Ancient Ayutthaya and bizarre Bangkok

Trip Start Jul 12, 2003
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Trip End Ongoing


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Saturday, August 9, 2003

Ayutthaya is just north of Bangkok and is a World Heritage listed ancient city, once the capital of Thailand. We bravely (or stupidly?!) decided to take on Asian traffic by hiring bikes to cycle to heaps of the wats (temples) and ancient ruins. At first this was terrifying, with tuk tuks, cars and motorcycles zooming past us and it all seemed like a big mistake. Once a bit out of the centre of town though it was fun and a great way to get to the more out of the way temple ruins.

We climbed down stairs into long ago looted crypts, and up steep Khmer style temples which are meant to be similar to Angkor Wat (which I guess we'll soon find out for ourselves - we're heading to Cambodia very soon!). We saw on the map an 'elephant camp' and decided to have a look, however accidently rode into an enclosure with elephants walking in and out around us. We had to manoeuvre ourselves out of the way and make a speedy exit in between elephants.

There was a great night market in Ayutthaya as well, which we visited several times and sampled some local cuisine. The people working there couldn't speak any English so we just pointed at a few ingredients and hoped for the best - luckily it was all really tasty!

We're now back in Bangkok and have visited a few of the quirkier sites here, a phallus shrine behind the Hilton hotel (people pray here for fertility - not us, hehe!) and some bizarre museums at a hospital such as an anatomical museum (lots of preserved Siamese twins) and the even more disturbing forensic science museum. There were preserved skeletons, skulls with bullet wounds, preserved dead babies (some with deformities and engorged heads) and heaps of gruesome photos of murder vicitims and people who'd been burnt to death or been through a shredder. This place would seriously make some people ill, what a weird and macabre idea (oh yeah, what a weird idea for us to go there?!)!
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