Ayuthaya, August 8
When we were in Bangkok a month ago we intended to visit the old capital of Thailand but the timing and weather just didn't cooperate. We were determined to make the short one hour trip north to Ayuthaya before flying out of Bangkok to Hong Kong.
We decided that the quickest, easiest and possibly cheapest way to see Ayuthaya's highlights was to book a day trip that departed from Khao San Road in Bangkok (where we were staying for three nights). The trip went as planned.We got up early and set off with a small group of foreigners to the old city. The plan was to visit the five top Wats and archeological sites and be back to Bangkok before dinner.
Ayuthaya is an island that is surrounded by three rivers. The historical city is the former capital of Thailand and houses some of the oldest temples and archeological sites in the country. Many of the ancient temples were similar to the temples of Angkor in Cambodia; in fact many of them were built during the same era and have Khmer origins. Not as spectacular or grand as the temples of Angkor but still quite remarkable.
Presently the city is an outdoor museum with several Theravada Buddhist temples and UNESCO World Heritage sites scattered throughout the city. It is a very cool city to visit and recommended to anyone making the trip to Thailand. Walking through the sights allowed us to step back in time and envision how magnificent the city must have been at its height.
We visited the war ravaged old royal palace of Wat Phra Si Sanphet, which had several giant chedi's (or stupas).We visited Wihaan Phra Mongkhon Bophit, which is the home of a huge bronze seated Buddha, said to be the largest in Thailand. The highlight was Wat Phra Mahathat, which has Khmer-style architecture and is home to the iconic Buddha head that is wrapped in tentacle-like tree roots; a very symbolical image of the Buddha.Several of the Buddha statutes had their heads chopped off when the city was ravaged, looted and burned by the Burmese army during its invasion and occupation.
Interesting tidbits of info - there are many different Buddha postures that one can see when visiting temples throughout SE Asia. When the Buddha is reclining it illustrates the exact moment of Buddha's enlightenment. When sitting, it represents the Buddha teaching or meditating. When standing, it represents the Buddha bestowing blessings or taming evil forces. And when walking, it represents the Buddha after his return to earth from heaven. So there you have it!
The city of Ayuthaya also allows tourists the opportunity to take an elephant ride through the city. We didn't ride an elephant that day because we knew that we'd be taking an elephant safari in Nepal, but we did see an elephant put on a show for the eager tourists. The elephant posed for pictures and even played the harmonica through his trunk and danced to his rhythmic sounds… very amusing and pretty impressive!
And that wraps up our trip to Ayuthaya.Make sure you check out the photo album to see some of the impressive sights and temples!