After visiting the Angkor temples, we did not feel being bored with temples! So we decided to head to the ancient city of Ayutthaya back in Thailand and home of the ruins of khmer style temples!
We left Cambodia by the Northern border with Thailand. Our journey was quite epic, first walking 30 minutes from Maden’s house in the countryside to reach the market on the main road where a taxi was supposed to wait for us, then waiting for the taxi under the sun and being offered a seat by villagers under their market food stand, then taking the taxi who stopped half way to transfer us to another car where we ended to be seven people in a five-seat car. Hopefully we were confident that Maden would not have left us in bad company. So we followed the flow and finally arrived at the border. The Cambodia-Thailand border in O’Smach is really empty. No traffic and two big casinos that looked empty (but it was the middle of the day). After going through the Cambodian immigration and heading to the Thailand immigration a few meters away, I realized I had not posted a postcard from Cambodia on which I had already put the Cambodian stamp. So I asked Thailand officers for their help and they told me to go back to Cambodia. Then Cambodian officers told me I had to cancel my exit from Cambodia and buy a new visa. I told them I could not go back to Cambodia and I only needed someone to take the postcard and put it in the nearest postbox, but officers did not want to hear me, so we went back to Thailand immigration office, entered Thailand and tried to ask people coming on the other way, from Thailand to Cambodia, to post my postcard! After 10-minutes speaking with tuktuk drivers, one of them offered us to post the postcard for 10 USD!!! Crazy! Alex had the good repartee to ask “Why don’t you want to help us?”, leaving the tuktuk drivers wordless. So we left with our little unposted postcard in our hands, wondering why people can be so stubborn to see money everywhere…
We took a van to Surin, 70 km away, willing to catch a train from there, but the next train was leaving later in the afternoon and arriving at 2am in Ayutthaya. So we decided to stay for the night in Surin, we found our cheapest room ever in Thailand (5 USD) at the New Hotel in front of the train station. The next day we woke up at 5am to take the direct train to Ayutthaya. It was a long day on board the train, watching life going by, surrounded by rice fields and rhythmed by the onboard sellers going back and forth in the cars, yelling and selling food and drinks. During our journey in Thailand, we only took 3rd class trains which are much more local, we recommend them!
Ayutthaya is well known for the ruins of its temples which were built 650 hundred years ago. The ruins are in the middle of the city and we rented a motorbike to go around and visit them. We found interested sites, but not as beautiful as we thought, maybe because they were in the middle of the traffic so we did not feel going back in time.
In Ayutthaya, we also tried a local delicacy called “Roti samai”. It looks like a wig on a crepe, but it is actually candyfloss! And it is yummy!
The next day, we took the train again up North, to Phitsanulok, and then a bus to Sukhothai. Sukhothai is the first Thai kingdom (before Ayutthaya), born as Angkor was declining. We found that Sukhothai is much more beautiful than Ayutthaya. The most beautiful ruins are in the middle of a historical park that we visited by bike during one day. We also had the chance to do our night running in the middle of the ruins, a very nice way to visit the old city! Note that Sukhothai means “Dawn of Happiness”, so we definitely stay in our theme! 😉
Before taking the train to the North, we stopped in Phitsanulok for the night and stayed with a very friendly family. Monchai and his sons, Son and Safe, welcomed us and we had a very nice dinner together, and after the dinner we played with the kids. It was a fun evening with them!