Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ayutthaya


The ancient capital of Siam, Ayutthaya, makes for a great day trip out of Bangkok. Only 85km north of the city and easily accessible by bus, or in our case, third class train, it's an easy trip to go back in history.

Once there, you can have your option of modes of transportation, like these crazy tricked out buses that were common on the streets.

We opted for a carbon-friendly slower paced form of wheels and rented one speed bicycles for the day for 40 baht, about $1.30. We rode around all day and explored 5 different temple ruins, and there were many more to see had we more time.

Ayutthaya saw many kings of Siam rule their dynasties from 1350 and leave legacies of grand temples and palaces. After the Burmese sacked the capital in the 1700's, the city never regained its glory and slowly crumbled away. Today there are numerous temple ruins to visit within a very small area, making for a full day of terrific concentrated sight seeing.

They built prangs and chedi in veneration of Buddha and the structures are supposed to contain sacred remnants of Buddha himself. There were an awful lot of prangs and chedi so I'm not sure how that all worked out but many of them are still standing and still considered very sacred.

Of the thousands and thousands of remaining Buddha statues, most are missing the heads and other parts due to looters throughout the ages.

One head that was left behind is now one of the most famous images from Ayutthaya as its been engulfed by tree roots at Wat Phra Mahathat.

This is all that remains of this one at the same temple.

More headless buddhas.

Wat Chaiwatthanara was the perfect place to see the sun beginning to set and the prangs were lit with the soft glow of the late afternoon.

This was the last fun outing for me in the Bangkok area. Michael finished his TESOL course and we hit the road over the weekend so I'm sitting in a cafe in Luang Prabang, Laos buzzing from an iced Lao coffee and taking advantage of their wi-fi for 5000 kip (50 cents). The crazy German Robert is still tagging along so we'll all find something fun to do tonight for New Years Eve. Happy New Year!

3 Comments:

At 4:44 PM, Anonymous Tara said...

Your posts are always so interesting. The photos are magnificant and accompanied by fascinating commentary. When your days on the Ice are over you should seriously consider writing a travel book. You certainly are whetting my appetite for travel!

Happy New Year to you guys and may 2008 be the best yet!

Love Tara xoxo

 
At 9:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Heidi,
Did you read anything saying why the architectural style of the buildings? Seems a very common theme. Is it because that is an easy and stable shape to build?

Shan

 
At 9:17 PM, Blogger Neal said...

I liked it there, but it was sort of a whirlwind trip there (yes, on the cheap 3rd class train for me too).

 

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