Marilyn and I were keen to visit Ayutthaya, an ancient city located north of Bangkok. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ayutthaya gives visitors a peek at the historical remnants of one of the most influential cities in the region.
We began our journey by taking the BTS to Victory Monument in Bangkok. Then, we hopped into a minivan that took us directly to Ayutthaya. Along the way, it stopped to let people off or drop off goods, however, this didn’t take very long. Despite this, it still took us more than two hours to arrive at the ancient city.
When we arrived, I’m pretty sure we fell for one of these scams that locals pull everywhere in Thailand. According to several websites, the minivan will stop outside of the city and insist that foreign passengers get out. Then, tuk tuk drivers approach you and offer you rides to the city.
Even though we knew this, we felt pressured to get off with everyone else. The driver insisted that this was the city, but it didn’t look like anywhere near the center of town. Marilyn and I found a map and decided to walk into the city. The tuk tuk drivers continued to hound us about a ride, but we vehemently declined.
As we walked toward the middle of town, tuk tuk drivers circled us like vultures. Some followed along beside us trying to get us to get into their vehicle. This was seriously off-putting to me, especially after coming from Bali where this happened often. Marilyn, who is originally from India, took this all in stride. She told me that it was just like being at home again.
We walked for an hour and finally came to a small shop that rented out mopeds. I wasn’t about to drive one of those on my own because I’d never been on one before. Luckily, Marilyn was fully indoctrinated and was comfortable packing me on the back. We paid for the scooter rental and off we went to discover Ayutthaya.
To be honest, I probably lost a few years of my life being on the back of that moped. Marilyn was a good driver and there wasn’t too much traffic in Ayutthaya, but there’s just something very vulnerable about being on the back and letting all control fall into the hands of someone else. Perhaps it was a good lesson for me since I’m definitely a control freak in normal situations?
We visited several of the major sites within the ancient city including many interesting ruins and temples. Some of the sites were free, but most charged an entry fee. The temples we visited were open and active in Buddhist practices. We saw monks in their saffron-colored robes making offerings to their gods. Many visitors also participated in worship of some kind.
As the sun began to set, we quickly zipped back and returned the moped. Then we had to hurry and find a minivan back to Bangkok. People told us the last bus back left at 6 p.m., and we definitely didn’t want to miss it. After searching for a long time (with tuk tuk drivers still hovering around us), we finally found a minivan back to the city.