The Real Day 8 – Ayutthaya

January 16th, 2010 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Ayutthaya Waking up at six in the morning for our trip to Ayutthaya, I was confused and in the dark about where and what we were actually doing (mostly my fault for not looking it up beforehand). We boarded the bus promptly at 7:30 am for our excursion, with our wonderful tour guide Audi leading the way. We passed through the city of Bangkok, and as urban sprawl gave way to a more modest setting, we arrived at Ayutthaya. There was a mini market outside of the temple that reminded me of the markets in Vietnam, but less nosy. Suddenly, the markets and stands gave way to a vast temple. The outside was beautiful but it was nothing compared to what we saw inside. Inside was the largest bronze image of Buddha in all of Thailand, also known as the Vihan Phra Mongkol Bophit. It was amazing, and rendered one speechless. The size was extraordinary. Our group moved through the temple and learned more about the history of the statue, the temple and the ancient city. The ancient city, itself, is in ruins, some parts intact, others not so much. The stupas (which are mound-like Buddhist structures containing relics), were magnificent to look at and explore. We spent a good amount of time roaming the grounds until we were rounded up for our next destination, the temple with the reclining Buddha, Wat Yai Chaimongkhol. This temple had more tourists and was very chaotic, which seemed odd since temples should be a place of peace and serenity. The paradox did not sit well with me, but exploring commenced. The reclining Buddha was also huge and covered in a bright yellow robe like fabric. The scene around him was the opposite of the quiet calm one expects. People shuffled through for prayers and pictures and I did too as well, and moved on to the next attraction which was the Victory Stupa built by King Naresuan. The stupa had treacherous steps that led to the top, and from the top you could see the whole area surrounding and see the 112 Buddhas around the perimeter of the stupa. After we finished with the pictures and raiding the gift shops, we were off to our next destination, Bang-Pa-In Palace. It was the palace of the royal family past and presently the summer palace. We opted to rent golf carts to explore the different areas of the estate, the palace was beautiful, but our tour guide put the fear of god in us about the consequences of taking pictures inside the actual buildings. The guards with guns that scattered the property did not help either. We spent our time joy riding through the grounds and made it back in time for our next and last stop, the river tour. We boarded River King Cruise and began our journey on the Chaophraya River. On the boat we enjoyed a buffet and the scenery, and as the small houses gave way to expensive waterfront property we came back to Bangkok and to our hotel. A very insightful journey of Thailand past and present: temples, a royal palace, and a river tour, not bad for a Saturday.