Ayutthaya and more…

Bangkok is huge.  10 million people live here though only about 6 million are “official”.  It is a metropolis of pagodas, temples, new buildings, a ton of cars (nothing to envy my beloved Los Angeles), tuk tuks, brand new cars, a wave of pink and green and yellow and orange cabs and –needless to say- people shoulder to shoulder in the street that manage to follow their own path and not be swallowed by the swell of people going another way.

We are headed to Ayutthaya, a couple of hours away from Bangkok. 

It was the capital of Thailand for 417 years, and is now registered as a UNESCO world heritage site.  I take advantage to write a blog that I very possibly won’t be able to post for a few days.  At least it will be ready to go.

We will walk the last part of the trip and I am really glad to do so. Ever seen a leaning stupa? The soil is soft to begin with, but the floods have made it even more uneven and this one is going sideways, indicating perhaps that too many years have past and a time to rest has come.

I pass scenes of daily life that mean nothing to those who live it while I feel blessed to be able to witness.   

A headless Buddha intrigues me.  In the old days it was customary to –when making a Buddha statue- to put valuables in the Buddha’s head.  As a result, when this country was invaded Buddha statues were decapitated to find what they held.  Later, looters finished off what the invaders did not find. It is during this walk that I start to see “The Land of Smiles”. 

We arrive to Ayutthaya.   Everything guides you to look up.  There are a few stupas on the side that hold ashes of past kings.  A gold offering plate contrasts with the redness of the rocks. 

Otto told us that Americans have a penchant to check bathroom facilities everywhere they go.  He may be right.  Bathroom break.   We have to pass through a market to get there.

Disco balls anyone? 

 The bathroom itself is worth it just for its signs.   We pay 5 Bahts to get in (roughly .15 cents in US money).  

The sign that indicates the female toilet just makes me want to break out in song… “I am woman. I am strong!”

We head to the temple.  It is at this Buddha’s feet that I decide to follow tradition and pick up a bamboo cylinder with wood straws with numbers on it.  You shake it until only one of them falls out.  On my first try number 9 comes out.  Then you make an offering and you are handed a paper that corresponds to it.  For those curious, mine said in Thai and in English:  “Going South or West will bring you good luck.  Love affairs will not yet meet up to your expectations.  Health problems are lessen.  Donation is beneficial to you in the long run.”  I quiet my inquiring mind that wants specifics and would have preferred it to read something like:  “You will continue to travel and be inspired for the rest of your life. You are where you need to be.  Getting old won’t come with aches and pains. Donation will bring you much wealth.”  Not touching the love section 🙂

We make another stop at a place where we can feed and ride elephants.  I am doing a mahout course (elephant owner/trainer) in a Chang Mai elephant camp that rescues them.  (Mahout) I don’t think I want to do this 10-minute ride, but do so anyway.  I feel sorry when he raises his trunk and its mahout asks me to put a dollar in it.

Next stop is Rich Restaurant with two honorable mentions.  One is and ice cold Singha beer.  And the other a dessert that consists of combining a whole lot of things (I won’t even attempt to know what they are),   adding ice cubes, a sauce that has evaporated milk in it, mixing it all together and getting something that looks complete unappetizing but that tastes delicious!  I have two servings.  Our guide says it’s called friends dessert ‘cause so many different ingredients are joined to create something fabulous.  I agree.

With full bellies and a happy countenance, perhaps due to the beer, we head to the river.  

We board a long boat.  (Actual nomination; not a description.)Life along the river is hard.

Some live on it.  Some don’t have it that hard.  Some worship along it.

Catholic Church on Riverbank

Some observe from it. I am relaxed and marveled by it all.  The hour ride seems like minutes.

A two hour bus drive to the hotel and we are on our own.  But, of course, I have built up an appetite and Otto has talked about a restaurant called Cabbages & Condoms. The restaurant has really great food, some organic, most healthy, in a really cute, laid back (yes, pun intended) environment. “Statutes” made of condoms dot the entrance.  

Tiger figure. Read the sign. 🙂

"Tree"

Lamps are condom covered.  It was established in part to support the activities of the Population and Community Development Association and promote the health and safety aspects of condom use in a fun and amusing manner. All proceeds from the restaurants are used to fund this organization.

A quick tuk tuk ride back and we are done for the day.

Tomorrow, Laos awaits!

Categories: Ayutthaya, Ramblings, Thailand | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

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34 thoughts on “Ayutthaya and more…

  1. Daniel Beech

    Very well described indeed. You make me want to head there right this second!

    Looking forward to your blog on Laos.

  2. Very cool my dear! Posted more photos from this adventure, if you don’t mind. People seem to really get into your beautiful shots! I hope it generates more followers. I can’t believe you answer every comment…it must take a lot of your time. Fascinating journey from this end you keep us enthralled!

    Big hug, Anag

    • Thanks Añag! I was surprised to see I have 694 followers! In large part thanks to you and then, I guess a lot of people travel to this part of the world and want to prepare. And those who won’t I am more than happy to take along!!
      Lost (or at least I think I did) some incredible candid shots of monks. Been downloading around 599 🙂 photos per day and running out of room. My charger broke.. ugh, but hopefully the guide will fix it or at least tell me where to buy another. I love my camera which is a Lumix PFZ 150. (Changed the other one.)
      Am in Laos which I didn’t expect to loooove. Didn’t post ’cause I got really, really sick. More on that on my blog in a day. Recuperating now. My group, and the 3 doctors, have been so sweet to me!
      Piri

      • Get better…rest will help. I know slowing down is out of the question but you know what I mean. Amazing adventure my dear and I can see you’re absorbing it all…big hug

  3. Yes, I’d take the friend dessert and the long boat trip with a big Thai smile on my mug!

    Hope they left some condoms for customers! 😀

    • Wish I could serve it to ya! The long trip was not nearly long enough!
      Looooooved it. It was such a wonderful way to observe and not have them adjust because I was there.
      Loving your blog.
      The condom as a “mint” was a surprise that made us laugh out loud!

  4. Awesome photography…

    • Thank you so much! It is when people enjoy them that they come alive. 🙂
      Love photography and this place (now in Laos) is a photographer’s paradise!!
      Like how clever you are with your titles, by the way. On this one I turned up blank.

  5. Mariko Ballentine

    enjoying the journey lidia! thank you!

  6. I’m wondering if Harley Davidson makes a Tuk Tuk? Loving the trip, I see in your eyes you are having a wonderful time.

    • Dr. AC (aka: my homie), I am absolutely adoring this journey. How observant of you. Hope that you are too. The company that makes them is actually called Thailand would you believe.
      It would be awesome to see a Harley Davidson tuk tuk!!!!!

  7. that tuk tuk ride sure looks like lot of fun ! 🙂

    • Abu, so glad you are enjoying our trip! It is so great to know so many are traveling virtually with me!
      Really liking how you are leaving part of your photographs B&W and colorizing part of them.
      And yes, that tuk tuk ride was soooo much fun!!!!

  8. Glad to see you’re having a great time in Thailand Lidia. Laos will also be fun for you. Nice pix.

    • Thanks guys!!! Laos (where I am right now) has captivated me almost as much as Myanmar, you are right! Even when it is the place where I got violently sick 😦 All good now and absolutely amazed by this land.
      Totally envious of your “gallivanting” by the way. 🙂

  9. Frances Yniguez Miranda

    Thank you Lidia for sharing so much of your life with me. The pictures and your comments are wonderful.. So many of us are more knowledgeable now because of you. God Bless and may God travel with you.

    • Frances, I truly feel blessed to have you all come with me!! It is so comforting to know that I provide at least a smile with the photos. You are an Yniguez and a Miranda? My mom’s maiden name was Miranda. 🙂

      • Frances Yniguez Miranda

        yniguez is my madian name and Miranda is my married name. Two powerful names to give to my 3 children.

  10. Hi Lydia,
    I love it. Your trip looks amazing. Thanks for sharing it all with us on your blog. Continued success on your adventure.

    Lydia Nicole

  11. So sweet of you Lydia. I should thank you for coming along!

  12. Ayutthaya is still at the top of places to go to. I just haven’t had the time yet. When I first got here in November, it was completely underwater. Though a friend of mine who works there says it is much better now. I’m glad you enjoyed it and that you found Cabbages and Condoms. They have some great selections for food indeed. Though, don’t order a martini from them.

    • Martiniii? I didn’t see that on the menu! 🙂 Where are you now Ben?

      • Outside of foreign-run establishments, and many times even then, Thailand has a lot to want in its mixology. Martinis are impossible here and don’t expect a bloody mary to ever be anything but vodka in tomato juice.

        Otherwise glad to read that you’re having a good time so far. You really seem to be hopping around quickly. Hopefully it’s enough time to thoroughly enjoy each place you’re going.

        I live and work in a suburb of Bangkok now and am leaving for Malaysia and Singapore for a few weeks in April.

  13. Dean P.

    I remember going to Ayutthaya a few years ago. Great place: beautiful old temples and those elephants were amazing. So different from the craziness of Bangkok 🙂

    • Hi Dean!!!
      For some bizarre reason, only today did I see your comment.
      I bet that when you went to Ayutthaya it was even better. I have mixed feelings about our entry into places. Much improves but also, much is lost.

  14. Ah, Singapore is on my list. I realize that I do seem to hop around a lot but in reality am getting to know the area in its “true” form, though I must say that it is starting to become a bit of a jumble.
    19 days in and I think 14 more to go… (I think)
    Am in Vietnam now and crossing over to Cambodia tomorrow.

  15. I love your blog! 🙂 – Adriana

    • Adriana!! Thank you!
      I am not going into FB much these days by the way but saw that progress is being made by Christian and can’t tell you how glad I am!

  16. Cabbages & Condoms! Hilarious. Thanks for adding another must-visit to an already long list!

    • 🙂 I got a few “must go” to from your blog.
      Thanks to you for reading.
      Cabbages & Condoms was great food and lots of fun!

  17. I like your perfect illustrated travel diaries!

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