By , January 18, 2014 8:39 pm

Thailand today encompasses most of the old kingdom of Siam. Siam, of course,  is famous for both Siamese Twins and Siamese Cats. Oddly enough, we didn’t spot either of them on this visit. In it’s heyday (1500’s to 1767) Siam’s capital city, Ayutthaya, was a splendorous trade hub. Foreign nations were invited to set up their own villages outside the capital, facilitating a great amount of trade.

Once compared in both size and wealth to Paris and termed the Invincible City, Ayutthaya was sacked by the Burmese in 1767, bringing an end to the kingdom of Siam.

Today, Ayutthaya is famous for two things: its collection of stone ruins in various states of collapse and its rabid dogs.

Rabid Dogs

The rabid dogs are real. I was bit by one. I suppose I can’t say with a certainty that the thing was rabid, but I’m pretty sure. Basically, Ashley and I were walking on the sidewalk one evening when we encountered three dogs adjacent to the sidewalk. Two of them were barking and growling, while the third seemed to be in a deep slumber.

Just to be safe, we decided to give them a wide berth as we walked past. Our efforts seemed to appease the barkers, who quieted down as we walked past. If their body language were put to words, it’d say something like “That’s right chump, you’ve got nothing. Go home and cry to mamma.”

Just as I relaxed (dogs always seem to  make me nervous. I think it comes from my childhood job as paper delivery boy), the sleeper jumped up, ran towards me and bit my leg. No growl, snort, or bark. Just a lightning fast dash and a bite. It seemed that’s all he wanted to accomplish, and he backed off as soon as I turned towards him. The bite itself didn’t really hurt but the skin was broken.

Just a scratch really

That night, Ashley suggested that the dog might have  been rabid. Of course, I didn’t believe her. The dog wasn’t foaming from the mouth and it had a relatively wimpy bite. I figured it was more likely that the poor thing was just suffering from a little doggy nightmare and bit me in its sleep without realizing what it was doing.

Ashley didn’t give up though. She brought Google to her aid and started quoting me a bunch of internet facts, which she may or may not have made up on the spot.

“Gee, did you know that if you are infected by rabies, it can take up to seven years to show symptoms?”

“Look here, It says that if left untreated rabies is 100% fatal, and it has to be treated within 1 week of an exposure if you already have your shots.”

“Did you know that it’s impossible to tell if a dog has rabies just by looking at it? Not all infected animals foam at the mouths.”

“This says that as many as 85% of all dogs in Ayutthaya may be infected with rabies.”

“Rabid dog bites look the same as non-rabid dog bites. If you see signs of infection it’s already too late.”

You get the picture. After three days of this, I eventually caved in and agreed to seek treatment in Chiang Mai. An experience that I can only describe as eye-openingly pleasant. I saw a doctor within minutes of entering the hospital (who, to my annoyance, said that I absolutely needed the shots – making me have to deal with Ashley’s “I told-you-so’s for the next couple of days). I received my first booster shot from the nurse a few minutes after that. Best of all, the cost of the vaccine was fairly minimal.

In total, for two shots of rabies vaccine and the doctor’s consultation, we paid 2,115 Bhat ($72.93CAD). Looking back at the rabies vaccines we received in Canada before we left on this trip (which I’m now glad we did) I noticed that the same thing would have cost us $490CAD. Much cheaper in Thailand!

Getting Around

We used bicycles for transport exclusively in this city. It’s really flat, and the streets are in good condition with little traffic. There’s plenty of rental shops that offer very reasonable rates in the hotel district, so finding a bike was a cinch. I managed to have the misfortune of renting a cycle with a flat tire one day, and did have to walk a bit. Fortunately, there were plenty of repair shops on our route, and they all gladly filled my tire with air without charge so my walking time was reduced to a minimum.  Just don’t forget the sunscreen.

Stone Buildings

AKA ruins. There’s not really much for me to say. Especially now, about one year after visiting them. Fortunately, I snapped some photos and they haven’t forgotten a thing. Enjoy.

2 Responses to “Ayutthaya”

  1. Travis says:

    Nice to see you guys back! Dog bites are no joke…my sister got a small bite on her hand from a dog with all its vaccines, etc and within about 2 hrs her hand looked like a balloon. A quick hospital visit fixed that – glad to see you we alright as well! We saw lots of stray dogs in the Balkans and parts of Romania, and they always made us nervous.

    Ayutthaya looks like such a beautiful site anytime I see photos – and yours are fantastic. I think biking around ancient ruins is something that never gets old! Glad to see you are back on the road! Safe travels.

    • Mike Lenzen says:

      I think I’ve finally learned to be a little less non-nonchalant about dog bites. In the case of exceptionally vicious dogs, we’ve had good luck chasing them away by tossing stones, but this one caught me by surprise.

      I love old ruins too, that’s why we keep going back. The photos are always nice, but there’s something special about being there in person too. As long as it’s not too crowded.

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