The noodles made a small sizzling noise as she gracefully stirred and flipped them, pushing them around in the large wok balanced carefully on the large barrel. The smell of frying beansprouts reached me as I watched, stomach grumbling.
It was the end of a long, hot day walking though ruins, statues, tourists and shops. With a few more days to spare in Bangkok before flying to the UK, we took our time to take one last daytrip, this time to the ancient city of Ayutthaya. Famous for its temple ruins, the area is now a tourist attraction complete with activities like elephant riding. We stuck to renting a motorbike, and then wandered around the different old buildings in the impressive heat, taking pictures, and trying to gage from the outside if the separate entry fees for each separate ruin was worth it. Quite a few times we were content just walking around the outside, admiring the spires reaching up into the sky, and sitting against a tree or two for a brief rest.
Most of the remains of the ancient city are on a large island. It was still and almost eerie, as most of the space is taken up with small meadows or green spaces, noticeably devoid of people in contrast to Bangkok. It is hard to imagine that this was once one of the biggest cities in the world, a bustling marketplace, a city covered in gold and a magnet for people from all over the world. Once the city was captured and burned almost to the ground in 1767 it must have been unrecognisable. There are increasing efforts to allow visitors to understand the scale and majesty of the city, however, and as we walked we found various new exhibits being built and signs being put up.
It was a slow day, relaxing and easy-going. The only frustrating part was the journey home. We took the train from the centre of Bangkok and on the return journey our train stopped somewhere on the outskirts of the city, windows open, car fumes and smoke from small fireworks coming into the compartment, for over two hours. The journey time doubled, simply because the train did not move. I, however, didn’t really mind- my stomach was full of some delicious pad thai noodles, cooked by a woman with care, in a wok balanced on a large barrel.