Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Mom Comes to Thailand Part 2: Bangkok and Ayutthaya

Very hot at the Grand Palace

The second phase of my mom’s visit was all about sight seeing after almost a week of relaxing on an island. We took an overnight bus from Ranong back to Bangkok where we parted ways with Eric for a few hours. He went on to Ayutthaya to reserve us a guesthouse and we went on to the Grand Palace. A trip to the Grand Palace was part of our orientation when we first got to Thailand and both Eric and I tried to convince my mom that she really didn’t need to see it, but she was persistent and eventually I stopped fighting it. It costs 500 baht each to go to the Grand Palace (which is a lot to me) and it is definitely a hot experience, but I actually really enjoyed my second trip there! My mom and I didn’t take a guided tour, so we were free to walk around the palace area at our leisure, which is what I think made it better than my first experience. It is definitely an impressive complex and we both really enjoyed the museum for the Queen’s project, which showcases her dresses and gives information about her initiatives to employ Thai women as weavers, embroiders, etc.

After about 3 hours at the Grand Palace, we walked down the street to Wat Po, which is famous for a really big lounging Buddha. After spending so much time at the Grand Palace, I wasn’t that impressed with Wat Po. The lounging Buddha is huge, but it seems like more of a tourist attraction and I don’t really know what the actual significance of it is besides just being a very large Buddha (but that is enough to make something noteworthy in Thailand). We were pretty exhausted after our touring (which was on top of an overnight bus ride), so we headed back to the bus station to get to Ayutthaya.

We woke up relatively early our first morning in Ayutthaya to take advantage of the cooler time of day (still probably at least 85 degrees though) and rented bicycles to see the ruins. It was Eric’s and my third trip to Ayutthaya, so we were kind of pros at that point knowing which temples were the coolest and where it was fun to ride bikes. My mom was really into the ruins and we all enjoyed riding bikes around the park areas until we were too tired and hot to see any more. We took advantage of our A/C room in the lovely Baan Lotus guesthouse and didn’t really emerge until dinnertime.

The next morning Eric had to go to Suphanburi to pick up our salary from March, so my mom and I went shopping at the floating market. I had been to this market before, so I knew what to expect, which was a hilarious tourist attraction next to the market including elephant rides, drugged tigers for photo ops, goats and koi fish to bottle feed, among other things that Thais think foreigners will love. The market itself isn’t really a floating market, but has shops set up on a circular pier/dock. We ate some amazing coconut ice cream and did some shopping before watching a very entertaining (and free) show put on my the culture department. Everything was in Thai, but we think they were reenacting some of the battles between the Ayuttayans and Burmese complete with fancy swordplay, fire, and a small child who was killed in the end and dramatically leaped off the stage.

After the market we went on the long boat tour around Ayutthaya, which stops at three different temples (one active one and two with ruins). This was my third time doing the boat tour, but it was still fun and I was finally able to walk around what I think is the coolest ruin in Ayutthaya since the other times I had been they had been working on renovating it. We said goodbye to Ayutthaya for the last time Wednesday morning to take a van to the airport in Bangkok to catch our flight to Chiang Mai and begin the northern leg of our trip. My mom really enjoyed our time in Bangkok and Ayutthaya and I was a little surprised that I had so much fun too considering we did things that I have done before (sometimes multiple times). 

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