Jet on the Set
23rd September, Ayutthaya, Thailand
It was a case of packing our bags and moving all our belongings over to Tony's Place this morning. After days of pestering us every time we set as much as one foot outside our room, we finally took up the tuk-tuk driver's offer of a lift. He and his motorcycle-taxi had almost become a permanent fixture glued outside Wiengfa Hotel. He was like a hawk that had been circling his prey for the past few days and it was fast becoming annoying. No more after today, though, as taxi mafia has a way of marking out the territories. Predictably Mr Tuk-Tuk Man tried to bundle more sightseeing stops at a cost but we remained focussed. Times must be tough!
Once settled at our new guesthouse, we spent much of the afternoon sat in the downstairs restaurant, watching the world go by. Well, by that I mean, watching the numerous tuk-tuks whizzing by outside, various hotel staff taking a nap on empty benches or hammocks and the resident dogs looking as if they were dead, sprawled across the floor. The heat was very intense and in these conditions, you soon learn to do what the locals do i.e. not much.
The 'Sunset Tuk-Tuk Tour' around some of the main temples became increasingly appealing. Riding a bike in these kind of temperatures (a humid 31 degrees Celsius) was simply too much effort for us. The tour operator, who was trying to sell the hotel's tours, pretty much said as much, "it's too hot out there, I stay in here!". We figured that by 6pm (which is when the Sunset Tour starts) the heat would have dropped and went ahead with the booking.
Thankfully, the heat had subsided considerably by the time it came to us boarding our tuk-tuk and in no time we were travelling with the wind blowing against our hair. Maurice and Wendy, a friendly Dutch couple were also on the tour. Together we put our faith in our driver and braved the Ayutthaya streets, which were surprisingly not too busy.
Our first stop was Wat Phu Khai Thong, a big white temple with a leaning spire. This was the spot where we were going to get our sunset photo. We climbed the steps to a higher vantage point on the temple, overlooking rice paddy fields, more wats, people riding elephants below us and the general hustle and bustle that unfolded before us. Hundreds of Thai men dressed in red robes were wandering around the grounds below. It took us a while to work out what they were doing here and then it occurred to us that we had stumbled across another film set (we seem to have developed a knack for that!). According to another tourist, they were shooting a Jet Li film called 'The Kingmaker'. Judging by the genre of film Jet likes doing, we figured the extras were martial artists. I scanned the crowds but could not see Jet on the set! We left shortly after as we had more wats to see and who knew when, or if, Jet would make an appearance.
We also visited Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Wat Phra Ram, Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Mahathat, and Wat Ratchaburana. They all looked superb lit up and our driver gave us a brief description of each one. I'll let the photos do the talking.
Our driver was quite a character. He was the funny guy who had helped me with my suitcase earlier on and had jokingly asked for 500 baht afterwards. When some handbag sellers approached us, he scooped all the merchandise and pretended to run off with them. Seeing that we were all feeling hot, he offered to switch on the air con in the tuk-tuk. "What?" we exclaimed in unison and before we could finish our sentences, he'd returned with a wooden fan and a grin stretched out from ear to ear. Darn, that fan was good!
It was an enjoyable tour and a good way to see the town at night. Good views and good company, w(h)at more could we ask for? Except for seeing Jet, perhaps!