Saturday, December 21, 2013

Day trip to Ayutthaya

A week before the Ayutthaya Marathon, Pae was home and we decided to drive up and make sure that I knew the lay of the land and get a visual of the place I would be running.
It also served as a chance for us to get out of the house and travel a little bit here at home, in Thailand. I've been here seven years and this would be the first time in Ayutthaya even though the city is so close to Bangkok and pretty much part of any tourist's sightseeing itinerary.
Pretty amazing that I've been an hour away from it and this was my first time.
Ayutthaya is the ancient capital of Thailand and is now full of ruins. The ruins are temples, palaces, walls and pretty much everything you would imagine. As it turns out, historically, the city was destroyed by the Burmese in raids and wars back some 400-500 years ago.
Temples and palaces were sacked and burned. One thing that stuck out to me was that most of the Buddha statues were headless. Pae explained to me that back then, gold was held in the heads of the statues as the head is seen as the highest part of the body and most sacred. That's why it's very rude to touch anyone's head here in Thailand. So, as the Burmese sacked the ancient city of Ayutthaya, they ripped the heads off of all of the statues of Buddha.
I'm sure as the city was being sacked, some of the residents also made off with some of the city's gold or their personal gold hidden in the Buddha heads
There are literally hundreds of temples and ruins in the old city area of Ayutthaya. We passed an apartment complex and a small strip mall. Between them was an old dilapidated brick structure. Just right between the two modern structures...
The famous Buddha head in a fig tree at Wat Mahathat
It was quite a change from Bangkok. The life there seemed more laid back, even with tourist flocking there in their hundreds per day. We actually found parking at two of the temples we went to and nobody came to us asking for a parking fee. This is unheard of in Bangkok. Heck, you have to pay to use a public toilet here!
Scaffolding just to hold this spire up. Perhaps they will fix it up a bit.
Another cool and sobering thing that we saw was waterlines from the flood that struck two years ago. Our neighborhood was under a good foot and a half of water for over a month back then.
Flood line in Ayutthaya. Also notice the cost of 5 baht to use the "TOILEL" (Toilet)
What we saw in Ayutthaya was just ridiculous. I swear the waterlines must have been nearly two meters high in places.
We love to eat. Tried the river prawns at a restaurant in Bang Pa-In.
We even ate at a restaurant on the river in Bang Pa-in, near Ayutthaya. The river was about four to five meters below the restaurant...yet there was a waterline in the restaurant that was still over my head! Meaning that the water was over 6-7 meters higher in 2011 than on the day we went!
We didn't stick around too long. We visited the two temples/palace and decided to head back to Bangkok. We said that we will make a list of the places of interest in Ayutthaya and eventually cross them all off as we make day trips every now and then in the future.
We recently got a car so that Pae could get to work more easily. That's its main function, duty and purpose. But having a car has made it so much easier for us to pick up and drive in whatever direction and explore more of Thailand!

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