Day 23 : 13th October 2019
400+ kms to be covered and destination for the day is Bangkok. Original plan is to reach Bangkok on Saturday but the car group wanted to spend more time at Sukhothai and I decided to stay back. Good and wise decision. We had another round of the “Incredible Breakfast (same menu)” and hit the road at 7:45 am. Initial stop was Ayutthaya which is around 360 kms from Sukhothai. Only me and Naren were on bike (the other bikers had already reached Bangkok on Friday) and I started pushing the vehicle to cross the 100 Km mark on a consistent basis. As per Naren, I touched 110 Kms per hour and we covered good distance in the first couple of hours (165 kms).
Naren understands the bikes very well and he was worried about the Pistons jamming or stop working. Fear of being stranded in the middle and not reaching the destination hit me and we kept under 90+ from then on. You ill-treat anything, you get negative results and bike gave one of the worst averages. We filled fuel in the morning and again had to fill before reaching Ayutthaya. Safety and economic efficiency matters and no more touching 100+ kms speed on this trip. Reached Ayutthaya at around 1:30 pm and the city was another example of the spiritual and architectural beauty of Thailand. One of the friend messaged me “we thought Thailand is only about ONE thing and thanks for showing the other side as well and he would be visiting it soon”.
Thailand has many good things as I have witnessed for the past 7 days and hope this travelogue helps many visit and see the actual beauty of the country and not limit to the “Beauty of Bangkok” only. While riding to the Ayutthaya historical park, you get to witness lots of dilapidated ancient structures and it was crowded. 3rd death anniversary of the late king, Some special day for Bhagwan Buddha and long weekend (Monday holiday) made the Thais comes out in number to Ayutthaya which is an hour journey from Bangkok by road on a non-traffic day (don’t think such day exists in Bangkok).
Saw lots of people wearing “Yellow” coloured tops and Khun Tom told “the colour belonged to the king” and people wear them as a mark of respect. I love Monarchy and the respect given by the people to the king. Can only imagine the golden days of Monarchy and today’s environment showed a glimpse of that. Khun Tom arranged for a ever smiling guide (his teacher) and a tall man was waiting for us. Our first visit was to “Wat Maha That” which stands for “Royal temple which houses some relics of Bhagwan Buddha”. It can be anything (replica or the sand touched by Bhagwan Buddha or a leaf from the bodhi tree etc..) and a huge structure but in a bad state (dilapidated and reconstructed).
Originally built in the 14th century but collapsed and rebuilt in the 17th century again. Different styled stupas and you get to see hundreds of headless Bhagwan Buddha’s moorthies. Some westerner ordered for the heads (during the early part of the 20th century) and his effort of enriching his personal or private property denied us to have one enriched public property and allowed us to see hundreds of acephalous bodies. Sad and hope some effort is being made to bring the heads back to Ayutthaya. Our forefathers had spent great time, effort and energy to create such a beautiful worshipping place and bringing back some sort of semblance of that would be the ideal corrective action.
It was too hot and humid and I limited myself to seeing around and not listening to the guides words. Once the Ayutthaya dynasty was fallen, the temple was set on fire and left to decay. Fortunately the “face of Ayutthaya” in the form of a bhagwan Buddha’s carved face pr head in the middle of a tree is still intact and lucky to see it with my naked eyes. Guide explained the Ayutthaya dynasty were Hindus and named the city after Ayodhya. Kings are always addressed as “Ram” and they were or are expected to rule like Bhagwan Sri Ram”.
It’s the same across all the different dynasties across Thailand. Riding for such long distance and the humid environment made us sit in an AC restaurant (I had something called pinky milk) and the car party went to the next temple. After relaxing for 30 minutes, we went to the 3rd temple which is called “Wat Yai Chai Mongkhol” and it’s a functional temple. We were welcomed by a huge reclining Bhagwan Buddha and the site is in a better condition. Got to see Bhagwan Buddha with heads not severed and all of them were in a sitting posture. Too crowded and people were standing in a queue to take pictures with the largest Moorthy.
I didn’t know about the queue and barged my body straight into and nobody stopped me. When somebody asked me to move (they were taking pictures and I was blocking the image of Buddha), I realized the queue and apologized to all (don’t know whether they got my apology or not but they were smiling and nodding their heads). Love Thai people and their respect for fellow human beings. Can’t think what would be the case if I had done the same at Siddhi Vinayak temple and I missed those Mumbaya Gaalis for a moment.
Waited for the car group to arrive and they got stuck in traffic. Time is an issue for us (bikers) and we decided to leave them there and came back to the parking area. One fellow Indian approached us and thought we are regular tourists who came with a group. When he got to know about our biking adventure, he got excited and asked us to join him for a quick non-alcoholic drink. Couldn’t refuse (because of the glowing and thrilled face of this fellow desi) and he felt so proud to see Indians finally making such adventurous trips like westerners.
Gulped some liquid like “red bull” (wanted to have one more but etiquacy stopped me from doing that) and took selfies with him and he sent a Facebook request immediately. Unknown face but the true Indian spirit (in a foreign land) of recognizing and respecting fellow countrymen. He has been living in this city for close to 3 decades (moneylender) and asked us to do another trip to Singapore next year and visit him again. Assured him positively and we hit the road again. Just add Ayutthaya to your itinerary and you may need couple of days to see all the places. Very similar to Sukhothai except the historical park or the temples are in the midst of city buildings and the architectural style is different.
We were joined by thousands of cars (bumper to bumper) but all moving in a disciplined manner and decent speed. Fortunately for us, the extreme left lane was free (still no car crossed and used it) and we could move at faster speed than the cars. Unfortunately bikers are not allowed to take the expressway and we had to ride through the traffic signals and other slow moving vehicles. Car team which left after an hour reached Bangkok before us and you can imagine our riding condition. Some 20 kms from the hotel, suddenly heard 2 loud sound from Naren’s vehicle and it stopped.
He and khun Tom are so good with bikes and got it started again after some 15 minutes. His vehicle stopped again and it took longer this time. One of Khun Tom’s staff started praying to the God (even though I don’t believe in it) but she was answered immediately and saw Naren’s vehicle running again. Coincidence or miracle. You can call it the way you want but I sincerely appreciated that girl for the gesture. If all had gone well, we would have reached the hotel at 6 but the bike issue got us delayed by 90 minutes. I used to manage APAC satellite countries during my professional days and i have some of the best and everlasting relationship with the Thailand staff.
One of them calls me “Dad (if I had got married at the correct age, I definitely might be having a girl of her age)” and was supposed to have dinner with her. She reached the hotel before me and was waiting for my arrival. Greeted her and excused myself for a quick shower and joined them at the dinner area. No alchohol day as a mark of respect for the late king (still mourning after 3 years and we mumbaikars blame the dry day on Gandhi Jayanthi day) and ordered some real good Thai food. She was so happy to see me again (so was I) and spent some quality time gossiping about all things that are happening after I left the organization or the industry or my professional career.
It started raining and it’s time for me to hit the bed. Said goodbye to the girls and met our touring group for some time and rested my unserviced body (no massage since Pai on day 18) for the last riding day of the onward journey.