Day 1 Bangkok to Ayutthaya: 60 kms by train and 17km to Ayutthaya

Ruth:  We are now in Ayutthaya, the former capital of Siam, which is located about 80 km north of Bangkok.  To get beyond the urban sprawl of Bangkok we took a train for the first 60km to get into the pretty countryside at Bang Pa-in.  We cycled the remaining 17 km to Ayutthaya.  This city was the capital of Siam from the 14th to the 18th century, when it was sacked by the Burmese. At its peak it had a multi-cultural population of a million, most living on houseboats on the extensive canals and rivers. It was an important trade centre between East and West and many foreign nations maintained their own villages outside the town walls.

Our route passed by the location of the late 15th century Japanese village and the Dutch East India  company headquarters. It was great to start cycling, and we were pleased to discover the roads are fantastic with wide shoulders and light traffic.

We are staying at the lovely Baan Are Gone Homestay, which is in an old teak house hanging over the river, just a short boat ride across from the main town. Last night we took a sunset boat tour of the rivers and canals, stopping  to visit three temples. Today we explored four of the ancient city’s grand temple ruins by bicycle. The ruins stand elegantly in varying states of decayed splendour, set in beautiful park surroundings.

Gordon:  The first annual Ayatthaya Marathon takes place tomorrow.  I have not been training, so I will not be participating.  However, Ruth was almost registered when she went to the tourist office to purchase tickets for the historic sites.  It seems the official was struck by Ruth’s lean physique and sporty cycling outfit.  In any event, even if we had trained for the event, it is hard to imagine running a marathon in 33 degree heat (today’s high).  I did notice a large number of vultures circling over the finish line this morning, so perhaps they have made their own predictions.

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