The open air cabin of commuter train 109 from Bangkok to Ayutthaya is a reminder of a simple freedom we give up as Canadians for the sake of public safety. A humid nights pungent air laps putrid then sweet aromas in cooling gusts against my welcoming brow after a day of sundrenched wandering through busy streets filled with hawkers and gawkers of all kinds. Deep, guttural grumbles of the diesel engine sojourn us North along moonlit steel tracks. The familiarity of this land is close to home with fields of vegetation and towers webbed with wires ensuring the connection and distribution of power and information to the needy masses. Differences exist in the faces of smiling people, proximity of shelter or makeshift habitat to rail lines and the previous mentioned little freedoms of self governing safety.
We arrive in the ancient capital Ayutthaya, which is littered with the remnants of crumbling wats that had been burned in the last war with Burma. A new city has been constructed around the ruins of the old but not forgotten past. Plaster and mortar has since peeled from the faces of brick constructed towers and pillars as desiccated Buddha's lie in broken heaps with softened features aged by brutal force and exposure to natures other elements.
Today was our first cycle experience as we rented bikes from our guesthouse and braved the streets in search of the past and also culture of today. Cycling was a welcome change from the short roofed Tuk Tuks we have been accustomed to employing in our adventures from site to site. On route we discovered massive compounds, giant reclining Buddha's and bustling market places rich in colour, sound and smell. Taking shelter from the hot afternoon sun, Robyn and I indulge in iced coffees under the canopy of lush vegetation as we overlook yet another monument in ruin. Thoughts of displaced monks escaping from the destruction of war seems like a strange thought; stranger still that it continues to occur even to this day in other places throughout Asia. After a full day in Ayutthaya we return to the guesthouse to collect our belongings and wash from our bodies the grime of the day with cooling showers. Tonight we take the overnight, twelve hour commute, to Chang Mai where we will spend a day before heading to the jungle on a three day trek. We are well rested and in great spirits, enjoying the many sites and flavours of Thailand.