Monday, July 1, 2013

To a Time When Princes Fought on Elephant Backs: Ayutthaya One: Joko in Thailand 20

Are you ready for another weekend adventure in Thailand?  This week, we are off to Ayutthaya, a town about 50 miles north of Bangkok, and the former capital of Siam. 

Really bad map of where I went.  Scale: BKK to Ayutthaya = 50 miles
Some folks elsewhere noted that I’m approaching this Thailand business with too much urgency.  They don’t understand why someone would travel on a low budget out of town, see stuff, spend the night, and then head back the next day.  I’ve been advised to take it more slowly. There’s plenty to see and do in Bangkok itself and I shouldn't be so gung-ho about leaving town whenever I can.
I appreciate that advice.  It’s well taken.  I haven’t even seen the Emerald temple nor the Royal Palace here in Bangkok itself.   

That said, I have other reasons for wanting to get out of town beyond my immediate enjoyment.  I’m checking things out to do more than make videos.  I want to learn about this country a bit in order to decide where and what I’m going to do when my contract expires here in October.

Do I want to stay in Bangkok or look for a job somewhere else in Thailand?
Finding things out about other parts of Thailand is part of that decision making process.

I’ll tell you more about what I thought of Ayutthaya in the next blog. 

I’ll finish this blog with some production notes about the video you are about to watch. I'm hoping it will make it more interesting. 

  •       “Happy Land” is a real neighborhood in northern Bangkok.  It’s got signs and everything.  I don’t know the history of the neighborhood, but the people there seemed pretty happy, despite living in an amusement-park-sounding place.  From what I saw, there was nothing amusement park about it.  Looked just like any other neighborhood.
  • ·         I’ve decided to call Rangsit the northern limit of metropolitan Bangkok.  After there, things really open up.  Coming back, I noticed Rangsit is where the Bangkok traffic patterns started, very different from out in the countryside.
  • Ayothaya, Ayutthaya, Iudea… since there is no official spelling of any Thai word using the Latin alphabet, we end up with lots of different spellings of both common and proper nouns.


  • Bringing my uke with me was worth it for the video I made in the last blog on the banks of the Chao Praya River, but one thing I noticed this weekend was a lot more stares from the locals.  Curious stares, not malevolent stares.  I think it was because I had my ukulele strapped to my backpack, not because I am farang.
  • When in Ayutthaya, eat at the BigBo kitchen.  After my 50 mile ride, they were very accommodating in letting me wash up a bit.  The proprietor speaks fluent English, the food was outstanding, they’ve got air con and the prices were just a bit above what you’d pay with a street vendor.  Right across the street from the Watyaichaimongkhul (now, that is a long word), the first temple I visited in Ayutthaya. 
  •  The voice over was obliterated by the wind, and the titles are messed up, so I’ll explain that  Wat Yaichai Mongkhul is a 14th century temple built by the great king of Siam, Nauresan, to celebrate his victory over an invading Burmese prince, highlighted by a battle between the two rulers mounted on elephants.  Ah, 14th Century warfare, when elephants fought and  the generals went at it head-to-head
  • How do you tell the difference between a Buddhist monk and a Buddhist nun?  They both shave their heads.  The nuns wear white and the monks wear saffron.

  • I really must remember to lick my lips and make sure I am well hydrated before narrating future videos.  I realize that the white sticky stuff that forms a string between my lips when I talk is not only distracting, but it looks kinda gross. 
  • I felt really bad when I finished up at the Thailand Tourism Authority Center there in Ayutthaya. They were very helpful and nice, and when they handed me their evaluation/feedback form, I couldn’t give them perfect marks in every category.  One of the evaluation criteria was accessability.  The tourist center is really hard to get to on motorbike.  Eventhough the office is visible from the main road, you have to drive a half mile alongside the immense and entirely deserted parking lot to get to the entrance of the parking lot, then drive a half mile back.  Well, deserted parking lots do make safe places to video yourself whilst on a motor bike.



  1. Miss this entry this morning ... Enjoyed it in the afternoon. Not as hot here today. I got some stuff done in the garage.

    I assume you will be looking a new position before October, will the agency help you in any way? I know they take a cut.

  2. I'm considering, but I do like the school where I am at now...


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