Heading south from Chiangmai and Chiangrai and Maesai, we made a quick stop at this ancient city. Ayutthaya was a capital of Siam, founded some 600 years ago. The Burmese army seized and destroyed the city in 1767 and what was left behind ever since were the ruins, which can be seen today. Declared as one of the world heritage sites by UNESCO, efforts are under way to reconstruct the city’s past glory. If you are into history and old wats and palaces or something like that, look no more. Spend some times circling the city either by horse cart or on foot. Tourists are aplenty here.
Ayutthaya is very near to/from Bangkok, less than one hour drive.
This is the last part of Thailand by Bus trip. After Ayutthaya, we headed south to Bangkok and spent a night at Hotel Chaleena in the Ramkamheang area. That night we shopped and dined in Pratunam shopping district. The next morning, we visited Grand Palace in Bangkok and a shopping center nearby. [Refer to Part 2 posting on this Bangkok story]. After sumptous lunch of white tomyam soup and solat Zuhur/Asr at Masjid Darul Aman at Phetchaburi, we undertook the last stretch of the journey from Bangkok to Sungai Kolok. Again we missed the coastline of Chumphon and Surat Thani provinces, due to night time. We stopped at Hatyai the next morning for late breakfast – nasi kerabu Kelantan style. Continued to the south, we stopped for lunch at Pattani and proceeded immediately to Narathiwat to beat border crossing closing time into Malaysia at 6pm. [Refer to Part 1 posting on this story].
Finally we reached Sungai Kolok at about 5pm with the same double decker bus fully loaded with counterfeit items and souvenirs from Thailand (read: China). Border crossing into Rantau Panjang, Malaysia, was a breeze — surprisingly — thanks to Matlee, due to his fierce connection with border people. It was one of the trip I could not forget. Thailand is always in my mind for years to come. To Cikgu Anuar, wherever you are. if you have other interesting projects, let me know. We share the same interest in the story of the roads. Terima kasih untuk semua. Wassalam.
Chiangrai city is the capital of Chiangrai province, Thailand’s most northern province. It is about 800 kms from the capital city Bangkok, and some 180kms from Chiangmai city. We headed further north to Maesai, a border town between Thailand and Myanmar, about an hour drive from Chiangrai city. Maesai is well-known for made-in-China counterfeit goodies, from electronic items to clothings to precious stones. The Myanmar side of the border is Tachilek, a town used to be ruled by warlords in opium business. I was informed it was possible to cross the border for some small fee in USD, but you must leave the passport with Myanmar army at the checkpoint on the river. We did not do this, eventhough I wanted very much to visit Tachilek. Remember this is the organized tour. I had no control over itinerary. Same excuse. May be next time. (Anyway, see my other postings on Yangon, Myanmar).
One more thing before I forget, there is quite a big masjid in Maesai, which goes to show that there is quite a moslem community in this area. The masjid is along the main road. Follow the sign Masjid An-noor.
The rest of Chiangrai, Maesai and environs pixs are here.
We left Pattaya early in the morning on the third day. Continued to the north to Chiangmai bypassing Bangkok business district. There were many towns we passed by, as you can see in the photos link below. We finally stopped at Lampang to catch Zuhur/Asr prayers at Masjid Al Falak. Lampang is the third largest city in Thailand, some 600 kms from the capital city Bangkok, and some 100 kms from Chiangmai. It is famous for its horse-cart (kereta kuda) and colorful buildings made of teak wood (kayu jati). Again, I could not explore the city beyond the authorized bus stops, even though I wanted to. We left this cool city in the drizzling rain and headed for Chiangmai.
Tired and hungry, the first place we stormed in was a chinese restaurant when we reached the city of Chiangmai. The bus driver had a difficulty manouvering the big bus through narrow downtown streets to find the restaurant, but finally he made it to the applause of starving folks in the bus. So welcome to Chiangmai, said the smiling owner. After dinner, we checked in into a riverside hotel and called it a day. Some young ones or young-at-hearts sneaked out to the nearby Night Bazaar, one of the main tourist attraction in Chiangmai.
The next morning, we trekked up the 1700m mountain Doi Suthep, perhaps the most famous tourist destination in Chiangmai. The city was surrounded by the mountains, and of them is Doi Suthep, believed by locals as a spiritual guardian of their city. Along the winding but good road up the mountain, we passed by a national park, some Buddhist temples and waterfalls amidst lush tropical rainforest. Not much stories & photos on those places, though. Again, same excuse — I could not stop, this is an organized tour! (Orang gagal beri alasan).