When I was looking at the timetable, it said that my train from Butterworth was arriving in Bangkok at 2.30pm. But in fact, I was already there at 10.30am. Now this changes things somewhat. My original plan was to buy ticket to Ayutthaya and take an earliest connection there, so that I can at least find an accommodation for the night before dark. Now I got myself extra 4 hours. So I decided to call up my former colleagues, Miki and Pam, and catch up with them for lunch. Despite the short notice, they said they would be able to meet me for lunch. Following their instruction, I jumped into a taxi outside the station and head to their office. 20 minute ride cost me about 80 Bahts, which would be just over SG$3. Not very expensive.
We went to the food court in this modern shopping complex near their office. It was great. Food was very tasty, facility was modern, even the payment system was like a pre-paid card – they give you a card with barcode, which each purchase will scan, and you pay everything at the cashier after you finished your meal. This saves a lot of time for the store owners. Great idea. After lunch I stopped by their office, which is much larger than when I was here over a year ago, to print out a booking confirmation of one of my flights (I don’t have a working printer at home so couldn’t print before I left). It’s funny… being such a green-minded person, I wasted a few extra paper (and my friend’s effort). I asked my friend in Singapore to print a different booking confirmation and I forgot to receive from him after he gave me a ride home. Then this booking confirmation, which I eventually got a hold of in Bangkok office, I had asked Wai Kit in KL to print out in his office for me before coming to meet me but I also forgot to claim from him before he dropped me back at the staion. Getting old, huh? Maybe. But I know one thing. I am more comfortable with this thing called ‘travelling’ and I do not fuss so much in preparation any more. Even if something is missing, it would not mean the end of my life. It would work out somehow, as it always did.
According to Seat61.com which I was reading before I left home, the train from Bangkok to Ayutthaya was an easy one, about 70km travel with services running quite frequently. Its auther said that you can just show up at the station on the day and buy the ticket and you’re on. So I did. I got back to station just in time, about 10 minutes before, the train I knew was running when I checked with ticket office earlier before going out for lunch. I got myself a ticket and hurried to my train. As the train came into my view, I realised that this might be one of those trains where you want to be there early and secure your seat. My ticket said ‘standee’. Oh-kay. I found a 3rd class car and pushed my way into a car. It is not air-conditioned and on a hot day like this, it is pretty tough. There are fans on the ceiling but they don’t seem to help much. My bag on the floor would block the aisle a bit but there is no space on the lack above the seats so I’ve got no choice. I was pretty exhausted with the heat when a voice from nearby called me. A young man in his jeans and T-shirt was sitting pretty much next to me and pointing to the space in the seat next to him, on the window side. His friend is telling me in English to sit there. I thanked them both and sat down.
It is very hot and the sun as it starts to go down makes it very hot sitting on the window side. I pulled the shade down. Just to be nice to those kind people I attempted to start a conversation. This friend of the guy next to me, in his button-down shirt and specs looking a bit more intellectual. They were in town for the day and are on their way home or something like that. And then it gradually became obvious that the guy next to me likes boys… He commands some Japanese words he knows and started sitting very close to me. I had to smile but made it very clear that I was not interested! Phew. I wish I were as popular among the other gender…
I got rid of them when the train finally arrived in Ayutthaya. I tried to avoid the heat by walking in the shade in front of shops and made my way to the ferry which crossed to the ‘island’. Ayutthaya is a town, square in shape with grid roads running across, surrounded by these 3 rivers which all come together. So you need to cross it by ferry or one of the few bridges to make it to the ‘island’. First thing was to find an accommodation. I managed to find the Sai 1 road which has many guesthouses, and though I did not find the ones which I thought my be good when I was reading up Lonely Planet, I instead came across Chantana House, which was pretty clean and also very quiet. I got myself one night in the room with air-con. The plan was to stay a night, walk around all day next day, and catch the evening train to the border town of Nong Khai.
Then I remembered I was thinking of booking and buying ticket for it when I go through Bangkok. But with all the hustles of going out for lunch, I forgot about it. When I got to Ayutthaya, I was just so relieved to be free from that train and back under the heat of sun, the only thing I could think of was to get to the guesthouse. Fine… I can go tomorrow morning and get the seat for the night.
After a shower and a nap till it got cooler, I went for a walk to see the ruins at dusk. They are well lit up and quite nice to see. Nearby was a market where various food was cooked on the spot. I picked omelette from one and fried vegetable from another. Omelette was unfortunately full of flour and was not that nice 😦 Oh well… Unlike some of those ‘party guesthouse’ ours was dark and quiet. I slept well till the early morning.
Information for fellow travellers:
- Taxi in Bangkok:
You can run by the metre or agree on fare first and go. I chose the metre because I haven’t a clue of what is the reasonable cost, so I checked with train station information people before getting into a taxi. Just ask “how much would you normally pay from here to… ” Looks honest enough.
- Train from Bangkok to Ayutthaya
Local train seems to run quite frequently. I did not check exactly how often. 71km distance, 20 bahts (SG$1 = 23.4 Baht when I travelled). But the Thai state railway website http://www.railway.co.th says the 3rd class is 15 bahts. Probably not updated quickly?
- Chantana House guesthouse
12/22 Narasuan Sai 1 Road (where most of the guesthouses are)
Phone (035) 323200
The reception lights out at 9.30pm so better not arrive later than that.
450 bahts for the air-con room on ground floor.
All room rates are printed and posted up on the wall next to recption. If you are looking for el-cheapo, go across the street for larger places like Tony’s. Chantana House also offers breakfast upon request. Don’t know what they offer because I am gone at the first light of the day!
Needless to say, this was correct at the time of my travel. Please check for yourself for the current fare/rate.