Ayutthaya is for the bats

From Sukhothai, Ayutthaya is an 8 hour bus ride. Feels like another déjà vu travel day, except this time I made the trip in the luxury of the VIP bus. (About $12 – AC, roomy seats with legroom, a stewardess and wifi.) Well wifi was the promise – it was spotty at best so I caught up on my photo sorting and editing. I was heading South so a stop in Ayutthaya was on the way.

Also, did I mention that the open air bus terminals are clean and quiet and don’t allow smoking? Very civilized indeed.

About Ayutthaya

The ancient city of Ayutthaya, or Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, is a former capital of Thailand and the ruins there are designated as an UNESCO world heritage historical park. Ayutthaya was founded in 1350 by King U-Thong when the Thais were forced southwards by northern neighbors. Over the next 417 years, 33 Kings of different dynasties ruled the kingdom until it was sacked by the Burmese in 1767.

Note: This is also a good place to rent a bike to tour around the park.

I must say, after the immaculate splendor of Sukhothai Historical Park, Ayutthaya was a big letdown. Felt like  a déjà vu too with similar ruins as Sukhothai, but Ayutthaya Historical Park is in ruin itself. Unkempt grounds with overgrown weeds, graffiti and litter. Perhaps its close proximity to Bangkok has made it suffer or maybe the community has not made preserving it a priority, who knows?

Tip: Sukhothai is my pick if you have to choose between the 2 historical parks. That being said many of the ruins at Sukhothai have signs that they have been reconstructed so it may be that Ayutthaya is more authentic.

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Had a close encounter with some bats in the belfries of one of the temples – hence my post title.




Chiang Dao Cave Adventure

This amazing cave excursion was included as part of our 3 day cycle adventure from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai with ActiveThailand. (We lucked out on another “private” tour as there were no other takers in this hottest, off season month. It was AWESOME, highly recommend – more later.)

The story behind this massive limestone cave (penetrating 8 miles into the Doi Chiang Dao mountain) is that a Buddhist monk discovered it 1,000 years ago and decided that it was the perfect place for meditation…Since then, people have been coming to honor the monk and the hermit that lived and died in the cave.

Cave warning signs
Even the disclaimers are so polite here: Dear all tourists….

I felt like I was in Raiders of the Lost Ark in the vast subterranean network of dripping stalacites and other stalagmite formations. I’ve never seen anything like this. If my voice sounds a bit tense, it’s because I’m a bit claustrophobic and not so fond of bats, especially when they are in large quantities…

Every day has been an amazing adventure here. Some days so packed with spectacular sights and experiences it’s difficult to capture them all. Focus on the highlights you say – they are all highlights I say!

Postscript: After what happened to the Thai soccer team and their coach in the caves of Northern Thailand, I’m not sure I would opt for another cave adventure if I was there again (at least not in the rainy season)…Would you still go?