Jon and I spent the past couple days biking through the historic capitals of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya, both filled with non-functioning ruined wats so I didn’t have to cover up my sinful legs. Both are like visiting an AsianPompeii, except without the plaster body casts and volcano eruptions. In Ayutthaya, nearly all the Buddha heads have been removed by the Burmese in the 1700’s attack on the ancient capital and exported as antiques, except for one that was intertwined in some tree roots.
It was rather glorious to transport myself around town on bike rather than get ripped off, again, by another tuk-tuk driver for being associated with “big-eyed” people (i.e. Jon) even though I fall into the same category as soon as I open my mouth and they realize I am completely not Thai. The guidebooks tell you what the rides should cost, but they are written by people who lived in Thailand or speak Thai, so they were not ripped off, but it has been fairly difficult not to be charged extra for everything. Except this morning, when we paid the equivalent of $5 each to ride the train five hours from Phitsanulok (near Sukhothai) to Ayutthaya on a third class train, no AC, with our backpacks on our laps and the seats made of hard, hard plastic. 2nd and 1st class were sold out. We got lots of stares, but thankfully the windows opened, so we enjoyed a breeze and wonderful views of green fields and a random wat every few towns.
In any case, the historic cities are rather sumptuous, if you can use your imagination back to the 1300’s. Here are some photos below.Buddha with long fingers, Sukhothai
Remaining wat, Sukhothai
Which one is the not the Buddha? Sukhothai
Waiting for our delayed, 3rd-class non-AC train in Phitsanulok. Traveling light is key.
Buddha head in tree roots, Ayutthaya
Remaining Buddha, Ayutthaya