Eager to fit all the island has to offer into our one day there, we rented a motorbike (approx. $6/day) and hit the road, first to check out Wat Mahathat, where there lies a Buddha head engulfed in tree roots, completely peaceful. Unfortunately the area was a little flooded but the grounds were very beautiful and picturesque. Nearly all of the remaining statues are headless, giving the site a mysterious vibe. Tourist buses arrived en masse so we took back to the bike before too long to see more of what this town had to offer.
We set off in search of the floating markets but the signs, which were readily posted along the route, led us to a dead-end. You would think there would be a sign at the location in addition to the dozen or so showing us the directions… So we checked out a small abandoned wat down the local roads and had a quick lunch before heading to Wat Chaiwatthanaram, one of the most beautiful and well preserved ones I’ve seen. It was actually being used as a film set as we arrived. No actors on site at the time, but we noticed the accents of some of the crew were english, so who knows?! Maybe they were just filming panning shots to fill in between movie scenes, or maybe it was for a travel show. I don’t blame them for choosing that location. The bright green, landscaped grounds contrasted wonderfully with the red brick of the towers. Almost 400 years old, the structure that remains is truly impressive.
From there we followed more signs to the Ayodia Intermarket. Upon arrival we were really confused. Buildings were brightly painted yet most vendor stalls were padlocked. If it weren’t for so many busloads of tourists visiting, we may have left but we assumed there must be something they knew that we did not so we stuck it out exploring what to us seemed like an abandoned carnival.
We stepped around the corner and there was an elephant, and a baby tiger stretched out on a nearby bench. I sat with her but as cute as she was, she wanted nothing to do with me. It was a bit heartbreaking that they kept trying to get her to sit still on my lap against her will. I can now say I have heard a baby tiger growl. Moving on, we hung out with the goats for a long time, giving them plenty of attention and food. I think they may have actually preferred the attention.
Exploring the area even more, we found the floating markets. We still are not sure if they are the original ones we searched for or a different set but they were pretty cool. They were more stilted than floating, with bridges arched high over the canals, allowing boats to pass by underneath. We checked it out, fed the catfish (hilarious), and watched the end of a cultural show put on in the theater at the center. Toward the end of our market explorations we found a koi pound where you can bottle feed the fish. It was fantastic and too funny. Who knew fish could drink from a baby bottle?! I had to do it twice!
After that, we finished our circumnavigation of the island, stopping for photos here and there, returning our bike around 6pm, our butts aching after such a full day or riding. After showering, they let us take them back out to see the wats that are lit up at night. Totally beautiful! A quick dinner, some drinks, a few games of pool, and we called it a night.
It was one of the best days of our trip. I highly recommend spending a day there to anyone wishing to travel to Bangkok – it was so worth it. I would have loved another day there but it was time to see the capital.