Sunday, February 10, 2013

The queen of cities

It felt good to be back in Thailand. So far we have only spent a few days in the capital, but somehow it still felt like coming back home. We decided to take a train to Ayutthaya, an ancient city 60 km north from Bangkok. Although the train was over an hour delayed, we decided not to complain, since the tickets were a ridiculous 25 cents each. We liked the city from the moment we have reached it, but we were not planning to stay for long. A day or two we thought. And that was exactly what we said when our new bungalow-neighbour, asked us how long we wanted to stay. He told us not to make too many plans, as we may end up spending much more time in the queen of all cities, as he called it. Back then we had no idea how right he was.

Being back in Thailand had one huge advantage, we were back to high accommodation standards for little money, so we rented a lovely bungalow about a minute walk from the ruins we were looking forward to explore. So far our idea of local temples and palaces was like all the newly renovated, shiny golden buildings we have seen in Bangkok. Now we were eager to see the really old, stone ones. And we were not disappointed. There was nothing new or shiny about them, which was exactly what made them so impressive. The city seemed to be packed with magnificent stone constructions and we were told it is only a small part of the whole complex.

But it was not the temples I remembered best from our sightseeing trip. It was the elephants. Unfortunately they did not look too happy. Don't get me wrong, as far as I can tell their owners were taking good care of them and they did look healthy and all, but they were still made to run up and down the city center in some ridiculous clothes carrying tourists around. I believe it is not a life you wish for as an elephant and it's not my idea of a nice elephant ride neither. But I was still impressed by the elegance and carefulness with which they moved. I expected them to be walking heavily, making a lot of noise, but what I saw was exactly the opposite. They were amazing! And I was sure I want to get to know those creatures better and try riding one myself, but I decided to put it off until we could do it in a nicer environment.

Unfortunately, David was not getting better. My cold was gone and forgotten, but his seemed only to be getting worse. It actually got so bad, that we decided to skip all plans we had for his birthday and spend the day visiting the local private hospital. The place was very nice and we got a good medical advice and all the medicines we needed, but David still ended up spending his birthday in bed with antibiotics instead of a birthday cake. And the diagnosis was clear, we should not travel, especially on air conditioned buses as long as he's not better again. We ended up stuck in the queen of cities for a whole week.

Being sick sucks, no matter where you are, but Ayutthaya was not the worst city to get stuck in. We had a nice and comfortable bungalow, our own terrace and enough books to keep us occupied. We also had a few restaurants around, serving absolutely amazing local dishes, which I ended up eating for breakfast and dinner every day, not wanting to waste my time on eggs and toasts. And we had the neighbours who knew the town by heart and were always ready to help. They also wanted to make sure we would try all the fresh fruits the city had to offer. And trust me, they were delicious! All other plans were put on hold, David was concentrating on getting better and I was dividing my time between reading, enjoying various massages and shopping on the local market. It was not the way we have planned it, but I believe we really needed such rest. Our bodies had a lot to cope with for the last few months. We were constantly changing countries and climates not really giving them much time to reset, not even during Christmas. It was time to sit down and relax. It was not easy, as there was still so much we wanted to see and do, but it all had to wait.

We were both really happy and relieved when David finally got better, but leaving the city was still not an easy decision. We have never stay anywhere for so long and I have to admit it felt nice. But we were also eager to move on. We absolutely loved Thailand and wanted to see more of it. We were especially looking forward to visit Chiang Mai, where we had some serious plans, including our two new passions, Thai food and elephants. We were even thinking about heading there immediately, but fortunately, our neighbours advised us against it, convincing us to make at least a short stop in Sukhothai. And I have to say I'm really glad they did.

The second of the ancient cities was just as magnificent as we had imagined it to be. One stony temple after another, spread all over the green hills of the area they all made an amazing impression. Instead of taking a bicycle or a motorbike as most tourist do we decided to go for an extra long walk. We did enough sitting in Ayutthaya, so or bodies were ready for action again. At the end of the long day we were dead tired, but happy and satisfied. We were back on track again and it felt great!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! the photos are amazing and it looks like you chose a great place to be sick in:)
    I have to cheer up for you with your passions. I haven't tried much Thai food in my life but food generally is my passion:) And you will need to cook something when I come and visit:)
    Elephants...I love them. What's there not to love? Their wipping looking eyes, grey skin and a tiny tail. Soft moves and the fact that once you see them you have to make a step back in respect. They are such beautiful and smart animals!
    Ok, to the top of the page yet again:)