Day 8 - The Ruins of AyutthayaDecember 18, 2019 in Thailand ⋅ ☀️ 34 °C
Woke up around 6.00am in our comfortable new bed. Before 9.00am we were up & out. We 1st paid for our accommodation & add a fourth night. We then ordered egg on toast & coffee. I had scrambled, which was a bit runny & Jackie had fried eggs that weren’t sunny side up, more sunburnt. The coffee was ridiculously strong. We will be having breakfast out in future.
Over breakfast, we booked a van that would take us down to Bangkok on Saturday. All the trains were fully booked! We then gave our Homestay hosts 2 bags of washing & then hired a little scooter from them and hit the road.
We zipped about a bit on our scooter just getting our bearings around Ayutthaya. We did notice that every other western tourist was getting about on bicycles, maybe we will try that on Friday!
The rivers of Mae Nam Chao Phraya & Mae Nam Lopburi surround Ayutthaya creating an Island. Ayutthaya was the capital of Siam from 1350 until 1767, when it was brutally ransacked & vandalised by the Burmese. In it’s heyday, Ayutthaya had more than 400 temples, but now they either lay in ruins or have only been partially restored. In 1991 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s like a budget version of Siem Reap.
After scooting around for about an hour, we stopped at Wat Maya That which is only just up the road from our Homestay. We paid our 50 Baht & joined the other tourists, mainly Thai or Chinese, we’re not sure which. Wat Maya That has the most photographed attraction in Ayutthaya, which is a sandstone Buddha head tangled within the entwined roots of a bodhi tree. Wat Maya That was built in 1373 and is the most important temple in the kingdom. It did have a 43 foot central ‘aptly named’ prang (Hindi/Khmer style stupa) but collapsed before the Burmese arrived & despite being rebuilt in more recent times, it collapsed again in 1911.
Next stop was next door at Wat Ratchaburana, again 50 Baht, which had a prang that we were allowed to climb up to visit the crypt (apparently the largest in Thailand). We climbed to the top up the steep steps & climbed back down after seeing the roosting bats.
We continued onwards stopping to see an enormous (at least 6ft) monitor lizard swim across a lake, then waddle out onto the bank. We then pulled up at Wat Phra Ra (50 Baht), constructed in 1369 on the burial site of King U Thong, Ayutthaya kingdom’s 1st sovereign. It wasn’t the best preserved, so I asked Jackie to stand behind a headless Buddha, so I could take a photo with her head on it. The photo was rubbish, but more importantly & funnier, Jackie got told off for being in area she wasn’t allowed to be!
Moving on swiftly, we drove to Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit, a ‘free’ Buddhist Temple that houses one of Thailand’s largest bronze Buddhas, that dates back to 1538. It measures 12.5 metres high & coated in gold. It should have been called Lucky, because it caught fire after being struck by lightning, before the Burmese came along & damaged it.
After, we went next door (50 Baht) to Wat Phra Si Sanphet, which turned out to be my favourite. The centrepiece was three towering stupas in a row, that for me were the most photogenic. We took quite a few photos, without getting in trouble.
By now it was lunchtime, it was 34 degrees & we were hot & thirsty. We unashamedly followed the crowds to a restaurant opposite Wat Maya That & bagged ourselves an outside seat in the shade. The waitress came over & gave us the menus, but also her order pad & asked us to write down what we wanted. We ordered Tom Yum soup for Jackie & stir fried ginger & pork for me, with Chang Beer. It was all lovely, Jackie rated it one of her Tom Yums ever, but also one of the hottest.
After dinner, we returned to our Homestay as a precaution so Jackie could use the loo, say no more. Whilst getting ourselves sorted, a maid turned up with our freshly laundered clothes, that we had given them just several hours earlier. Just 100 Baht, bargain!
We headed back out & visited the Ayutthaya Tourist Center, where they had an interesting exhibition about life in Ayutthaya. We decided to do just one final ruin for the day, but somehow I got lost & couldn’t locate it. It’s quite hard reading a map whilst riding a scooter. Instead we ended up riding through a market that was teeming with children just out of school for the day. It was a tricky ride, but we managed not to hit anyone.
After picking up some mosquito spray, the mossie’s are quite bad here, we returned to our Homestay. We have discovered that they don’t come in and clean the rooms, well they didn’t today.
We returned to the Burinda Restaurant, where we shared a Pad Thai & a Green Curry. The evening was lovely, but was nearly ruined by a group of five foreign gap-year back packing tossers who shared a large bottle of water & each ordered the cheapest meal on the menu, but were so full of themselves. Several were typically vegetarians. Thank god we never ended up like that! Rant over.
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