Thailand – Ayutthaya and beyond

The train trundles south from Chiang Mai on the single track. Leaving late in the afternoon, the second class sleepers should deliver us well rested to the old capital of Ayutthaya in the centre of the country, not far north of Bangkok.

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When we wake up after bunking down on very comfortable fold-down seats, the landscape had changed to one of rice paddies, long empty plains with hot air wafting over it.

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The heat upon arrival in Ayutthaya is stifling. It feels like a furnace, not a cool breeze to be felt anywhere. Nevertheless, we grab bikes and head out into traffic, hopping from temple to temple until exhaustion sets in.

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It’s in the early hours of the evening that we can start to see a different side to the place, taking a boat through the canals at sunset and a tuktuk at nighttime, when the ruins are illuminated rather dramatically.

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We’re enjoying the different food, the change of scenery and the spectacular ruins. The difference between Chiang Mai and Ayutthaya is marked, but we’re now ready for a change of pace…

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That change of pace involves a trip to Khao Yai National Park. Spending a few days in nature and getting to know a different side of Thailand.

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We’re taking a guided tour through the park on two consecutive days, which means we actually get to see something more than 2m either side of the road. On the down side, that means I can’t stop and hover anywhere for any length of time. Add to that the fact that I’ve always found the essence of jungles hard to capture photographically and that’s why you can only see a few pictures from our visit there.