I visited Ayutthaya very early this morning in order to see my son off on his Ayutthaya to Bangkok bike ride of about 80 kms. I’ve done the ride before but was pleased to act on a logistical basis and this gave me the opportunity to take my son’s camera (Canon EOS 450D – much smarter than anything I have) and stop from time to time to admire the many views. The start was at Wat Chaiwatthanaram one of the many famous temple ruins in Thailand’s former capital. Actually I got badly lost forgetting how large the Ayutthaya Historical Park is. below is a shot of the temple during the floods.
The water has receded now but you can’t at present walk amongst the ruins because it is still pretty waterlogged and muddy. They are however making extremely good efforts to clean it up and get the environs back to normal though a lot of pumping has to be done as below.
The levee protecting the temple complex from the river has been rebuilt and they have done a pretty good job though it doesn’t look high enough to prevent future major flooding. To make it higher though would obstruct the view from the river – a difficult trade off.
Soon we were off and I followed the bikers in my car into the verdant paddy fields on the east bank of the Chao Phya. It wasn’t easy keeping a track of the cyclists in the country roads as I stopped frequently to take in the scenery and to try to identify the abundant bird life. However by keeping the morning sun to my right I managed to rejoin the peloton – who needs satnav?
I managed to identify a couple of birds making use of my Robson’s “Birds of Thailand“. The White Throated Kingfisher above and the flock of Asian Open-bills at the bottom of this post. There were plenty of Egrets but I didn’t get a decent photo.
Ever so often the road would along the bank of the Chao Phaya. The river is pretty full as you can see.
And here is an interesting plant which I captured on the side of the road. In Thailand it is known as ka fak, which translates euphemistically as “what the crow has left behind”. We know it in the west as Miseltoe of which there are many species. Brief botanical lesson. These plants grow on the branches of trees from seeds that come from bird droppings. They are parasites using their roots to penetrate the bark of the host tree to tap water from its veins. Mistletoe competes with the tree’s leaves for water, so leaf growth on branches beyond the mistletoe is reduced. As the mistletoe grows, the branch may eventually die. Unless the tree is very old and smothered in Mistletoe it is unlikely to die because if it does the mistletoe as it no longer has a source of water. Actually we have this in our Mango trees at home and every often we have to hack it out. Not an easy job because it is hard to distinguish in dense growth. Easily spotted below however.
About a third of the way we stopped at Wat Thasung Taksinaram, still in Ayutthaya Province, which is remarkable for a huge population of Asian Fruit Bats or Flying Foxes. They are large and to see them fly is a sight to behold – they fly a little like crows and not the darting movement you would expect having seen smaller bats.
My photo does not do justice to their size – they are the largest of the bat family.
Whilst nature is recovering pretty well after the floods there has been considerable damage to the country roads. The Department of Highways advised recently that over a thousand highways and rural roads in flood-stricken 63 provinces in Thailand were devastated, causing 13 billion baht (USD422m) worth of damage. Not so picturesque is a few abandoned cars which were ruined in the floods. Here is an example of the road I drove along and it’s pretty much like this anywhere off the highway.
After the bat temple I dove off towards Bangkok for my lunch. I’ll leave you with the birds.