Orientation week got into full swing yesterday with a day trip to the old capital, Ayutthaya.
I, of course, was very much into the history of the different wats, the architecture influences of Cambodia, the way the different monuments illustrate the Thai's ongoing conflicts with the Burmese, the differences in tourists and tourist establishments in Thailand verses Europe/America.
That, or I spent the whole time thinking about the elephants we were going to go see.
And see them we did! After three wats (Wat-syndrome, the Eastern counterpart to Cathedral-syndrome in Europe, struck quickly), a monument, and some other ruins, we finally went to Elephant Town.
(Now, before you get depressed about them being chained up and decked out with seats and tassels, hold that thought. It gets better.)
We paid the 500 baht fee and took a 30-minute ride on the elephants. My camera, of course, died while doing so. Fortunately, Jenna's kept working, and she's promised to share.
The ride was... lurchy. I can't imagine riding like that for thousands of miles.
After disembarking and the requisite visit to the souvenir shop, we walked through a recreation of a an old Thai house, visited three more wats, and then went to the Elephant Village at sunset.
That was much more like it. The elephants are taken here at night, and they have tons of free space to wander in and many volunteers and Thai workers to care for them. There were three baby elephants nuzzling against their moms who were getting drinks and soaking themselves with a garden hose. So cute! We also followed a train of them down to the river where they went for a swim with their herders. After their swim, the rider of the bull elephant showed off a little, having him rear up, trumpet, and kneel down. When he kneeled, J.J. (our guide), took Jenna's camera (which I was shooting with because I had paid the camera fee to be able to take pictures, and it's a long story) and told me to go stand near the elephant for a picture. I started to do so, and the rider scrambled down and pulled me over to the elephant's side and had me sit on the elephant's knee.
(Photo coming soon, I promise!)
The elephants stole J.J.'s shoes and played keep-away a little, tossing them about. When she finally got her flat back, we followed the elephants back to the main area and headed out to dinner.
Today we have Thai language lessons, a visit to another wat and another monument, and an evening in Singburi town. Tomorrow we're visit more historical sites, but I don't think my attention will be very good again because, dude, tomorrow we're visiting MONKEYS!
MONKEYS, MONKEYS, MONKEYS!