Bangkok, Ayuthaya and Amphawa Floating Markets

Trip Start Jul 05, 2012
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Trip End Jun 19, 2013


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Where I stayed

Flag of Thailand  ,
Saturday, October 20, 2012

Highlights

Bangkok.
We love Bangkok! We got dumped by our bus at 5am on some random road side in the middle of Bangkok with no clue as to where we were. By a stroke of luck we chose the right direction and ended up having a cup of tea in burger king opposite the famous Ko San Road. After wasting some time we decided we should try and find some accommodation and headed down ko San. Even at 6am there were plenty of people still drinking beer and enjoying themselves from the night before. Combine that with monks in their orange robes strolling the street for free food, it was a strange experience. It was already evident that Bangkok does not sleep! After a few rejections we found a great place, clean, tv and air con for 11 a night plus a good location. We spent our evenings sat in various bars getting drunk off cheap beers and enjoyed watching the hectic street life. Although Bangkok has its seedy side for some reason it feels safe and everyone is out to have a good time. No matter what the time everything is available to you in Bangkok. The food is great with so much choice, shopping is great ranging from tacky coke-can made model tuk tuks to a full set of boxing gear, from women trying to flog stupid hats to over friendly men trying to sell 'ping pong' shows. It's all going on. There were also plenty of massage parlours that were always busy no matter what time of day. I had a foot massage and a Thai massage costing a whopping 3 each! I think they were awesome although Mark stated ' there's no way I'm letting some random sweaty Thai man rub my feet!' haha!

The Grand Palace.
We arrived by the exciting-as-ever-cuz-your-sure-your-gonna-die tuk tuk, which decided to drop us off nowhere near the entrance so a hot sweaty walk followed until we reached a mass heard of people waiting to get in. There was some event on so no tourists could go in until it had finished at 1pm, so we had to wait in the heat surrounded by Chinese people all pushing even though we couldn't get in. Finally the gate got opened and the struggle began just as we got through a guard told us to turn around as we weren't dressed appropriately. I was wearing leggings which show the knee cap out line too much, tut tut! And as for Mark...3/4 length trousers? Outrageous! So we both had to rent some 'lovely' garments to cover the offending areas before we tried again. Very lucky the woman was there to make money from all these tourists! When we did get in we got some good news, it was free entry! We love free. That already makes this place amazing. As we walked around the temples and various buildings we couldn't believe how underrated this place was. All the buildings were beautiful, covered in gold or intricate mosaic tiles. We spent the rest of the day roaming round before we escaped the heat by tuk tuk.

 Ayuthaya.
We took a day trip see the ancient city of Ayuthaya about 90 minutes outside of Bangkok. We were put in a group of about 20 other tourists and could hardly hear or understand our Thai guide. I knew from the off we should have done this trip our selves and stayed in Ayuthaya. There were lots of temples, statues and ruins to see; our favorite were: the giant 17meter high gold Buddha, a Buddha head that lays within a tree's entwined roots and a huge 40m long reclining Buddha. We wished we knew abit more about what we were visiting and had to rely on the summary in our guide book to tell us more. If we could do it again we would not do a day trip tour to Ayuthaya

The Food.
There is so much choice in Bangkok. Right outside of our hostel was cheap food stalls selling pad thai for 80p and freshly squeezed juice for 50p and big bottles of Chang (beer) for 1.40. We chose 3 dishes each night and shared it between us. Tom yam noodle soup was a highlight but all the food had amazing flavours.

Floating Markets.
Getting to the floating markets was an experience in itself. The minivan driver was crazy, I'm pretty sure we broke the sound barrier as he swerved through the traffic on a highway out of Bangkok. Too much traffic? Simple just drive on the hard shoulder. To make it even worse we were at the back, and these minivans have super soft suspension, so it felt like we were hitching a ride on a speeding bouncy castle. We made it to the first market which operates over the weekend and is superbly located over a train track! That's right a train track, not sure what was wrong with the quiet adjoining road but it made an interesting sight. Unfortunately no trains came while we were there but if you YouTube-'trains Thailand market' you can see it. We took some cool photos of the interesting produce you can buy before heading on to the floating markets. This market was located on a canal with most stalls and shops at the side. We spent most of our time trying to struggle down the small paths along side the canal checking out some of the more unique stalls along the way. It seemed a bit set up for Chinese tourists with the cartoon toys they were selling but there was also food stalls where you sat down on tiny plastic stalls facing the canal, while your food got cooked on a longtail boat. After strolling around we had to wait for ages for our boat to take us to see fireflies. There was us 2 and about 20 Chinese tourists in the boat, it really did feel as if the floating market was just for the Chinese. We spent an hour checking out the fireflies but wasn't that impressed (imagine a Christmas tree decorated with tesco value white christmas lights). To make it worse the Chinese all "oooh", "aaaah" and clapped every time we saw some. Very annoying. One thing we've learned is that the Chinese can't swim (anyone know why?) they all have to wear life jackets when we've seen them snorkeling in previous places. Luckily we hit traffic on the way back so our crazy driver HAD to slow down. Although he still used the hard shoulder, drove the wrong way up one way streets and made junctions at the last second. 
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