April 16th 2019
There is so much to see and experience in Thailand. Today was another day filled with adventure—tasting new Thai food, checking out a “floating” market, observing elephants used in the tourist trade, and exploring the area north of Bangkok where my son has been working for the past 5 1/2 years! We drove the 80+ km north from Bangkok to Ayutthaya in about an hour and 10 minutes.
Although Benz and Alexander have both worked in Ayutthaya, this was our first visit to the former, historic capital city of Thailand.
First we stopped for lunch at a favorite location for many Thai locals called PhakHwan restaurant. Alexander and Benz were excited to order various Thai dishes for us to try— and were careful not to exceed our spice tolerance 😉🥵.
Next we headed toward the Wat Phra Si Sanphet to explore the historic area of Thailand’s original capital city. As we approached this area I witnessed my first tourist trade elephants lumbering along the sidewalks and roads complete with painted flowers and decorations, blankets, drivers, bench chairs, umbrellas and tourists.
I was quite shocked to see that this still occurred, yet curious to view the elephants. They were walking right near vehicles and often in really noisy locations. The elephants wore designs created with gold and colorful paint. The “chairs” and umbrellas were strapped around them with ropes and harnesses.
When we were walking along the sidewalk an elephant carrying 3 people, plus all the decorative gear, started walking towards me. Initially I was fascinated by the beautiful animal. But as it got close I felt wary, as I could feel it’s agitation! It actually stopped to eat some grass and rock for awhile—much to its drivers dismay.
I found myself feeling emotionally concerned and uncomfortable. I know there is growing objection to the tourist elephant ride trade.
I would predict this means of transportation will decrease (possibly end) within the next decade or so…. We walked past the parade of elephants and explored the historic city of Ayutthaya then Wat Phra Si Sanphet.
As usual it was hot and humid! Hats, sunscreen, rash shirts and hand fans were in order! The ruins were fascinating.
The dogs dug holes in the grass and dirt to keep cool. Gardeners swept the historic pavers with their traditional grass brooms.
Birds sang and tourists explored. The contrast between the ruins of the ancient Wat and the new structure was interesting.
We took a peek inside the new Wat too. The Yellow flags, decorations, and Portraits are to acknowledge and show respect to the King of Thailand.
Next we headed off to a floating market in Ayutthaya only to discover more tourist elephants adjacent to the market. This time we saw where they were held. One Elephant Which was dressed up ready for the “performance “ shared her stall with her baby.
Although the baby didn’t have to carry anybody, it was regularly touched and patted by tourists. I understand that this industry supports many Thai people, but I prefer to see these majestic, intelligent mammals living in freedom.
Onward to the markets. This was my first floating market experience! Benz, as a Thai citizen, entered free… we each were charged 60-70 Baht. It included a canal ride and some entertainment (which we just missed!). The canal ride in the long tail boat was enjoyable and provided a good sense of the market layout. At one spot people were feeding massive catfish.
Although the boats were not lined up like Canadian fishing boats several a breast, they were parked along the dock and each boat was filled with their unique wares.
We explored trying rice wine, eating sugar cane and coconut products, viewing the famous snake head fish and getting another perspective of this amazing culture from Benz and local merchants.
Homeward bound… A visit to Western Digital where Alexander is a design engineer. The place is enormous with more than 30,000 employees and a massive parking lots for all its buses. En route I loved observing the street lights and road side stalls which are always interesting to view.
Who has time to sleep in the car? We heading to Chiang Mai next!