Rucksacks on our backs we prepare to brave our first experience of Thailand backpacking – after half of the stories I’ve heard I’m expecting to have to desperately grab a train as it chugs by the platform, 7 hours late, and cling for dear life with a bajillion other Thais – especially as Jo has booked us ‘3rd class’.
What we experience would make Jeremy Corbyn shake his fist in anger (as he sits on the floor of a Virgin Pendolino.)
We hop up on to the train, duck through a section reserved for the elderly and monks, and sit on the plush leather bench seats under a pleasant ceiling fan (2nd class get aircon we found out later) cracking open the large windows to get some airflow.
In the few minutes it took me to find some water in Bangkok Station Jo had started chatting to a young Thai student called Ticha, who is traveling on the train to Lopburi to see her boyfriend. A few moments after we find our seat we see her making her way down the carriage and she joins us for the trip. She ends up spending the journey chatting to Jo and trying to teach her Thai, not very successfully I might add!
After a few hours we arrive at Ayutthaya Station and grab a Tuk Tuk to our next hostel.
The Hostel & a Boat Tour
Which is awesome! It’s a traditional Thai style house with beautiful dark wooden walls, propped up on stilts with some tables for food laid out underneath and a little table area hanging over the river next door.
Our host directs us to an evening boat tour (the train took a while!) and after a quick phone call a tuk tuk turns up to take us to the boat. Expect it drops us off at a rather murdery ally way which we navigate to find a bunch of floating planks of wood with a boat at the end. Totally worth it though, we get some beautiful sights around the town (the whole town is an island) and we stop off at 3 different temples on the way through. We cuddle up on the front of the boat (after Jo verbally gives a beat down to a couple of tried to steal our spot) as the sun sets and we finish up the cruise.
They drop us off at a night market where we eat waaaay too much food – it’s kind of obscene, it’s really our first night market outside of Touristy Bangkok and we eat our way through it like we are on a mission to taste everything they have to offer – because we are entirely on a mission to taste everything they have on offer.
As we walked away from the markets, our belly’s full, we stop and kick ourselves for not getting any pictures. Sorry about that. We were hungry.
Jo Gets Her Bike Ride
Next day, we rent bicycles. I’m a little apprehensive as they are basically tube-shaped rust with some circular rubber attached and the Thai traffic is insane, but Jo is away like the road runner squeaking away on the bike and it turns out cycling in Thailand is just like crossing the street – you go and somehow you don’t get run over. Don’t cycle out in front of trucks.
We see a reclining Buddha in a field, some elephants giving tourists a ride, a traditional Thai house and a beautiful UNESCO temple. We were just admiring one of the large Chedi (the bell-shaped buildings where the ashes of important people are stored after they die) when the heavens opened and torrential rain hammers down on us. We duck under a tree, but after a few minutes even the tree can’t protect us. We spot a Dutch backpacker making a dash for the Chedi steps and he takes cover in the ancient entryway into the building – we have no umbrella, so we make a dash for it, up the long flight and stairs and under the cover. We must be sitting in there for a good half an hour chatting to our smarter-than-us friend, in his better-than-our shelter as the rain sloshes down outside. We are both soaked through and I thank the lords of the American survivalists for the water proof camera and bag.
When the rain finally lets up, we go to find our slightly-more-rusty-than-when-we-started bikes and cycled off to grab a quick bite to eat before checking out a Buddha’s head stuck in a tree at Wat Maha That.
Tired, after a day of cycling, we ride back to our hotel, stopping briefly at a beautiful garden which we found randomly by the side of the road (like most of Thailand, you can stumble across something beautiful anywhere.) Jo makes another friend, a CRAZY BUBBLE OF FLUFF CUTE SPAZZY PUPPY WUPPY!
Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to steal him, as he belonged to a couple we met there, but they let us take some pictures.
Night Market By The River
Afterwards we check out another night market. This one is by a long river and it looks beautiful in the night, the lanterns hanging in the trees glimmer on the water, behind a line of boats selling food on the bank. We grab a bite to eat from one (and get a picture this time! Wohoo!) and wander around the other stalls in the dusk.
Next day we get back on the train and head to Pak Chong.