Ayutthaya was once important as the most populated city in the world with luxurious golden palaces and home to endless ammounts of trading vessel from around the world. Today it’s really nothing more than another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The kind of UNESCO site worth visiting only because its so close to Bangkok, a city actually worth visiting. Fun fact. Ayutthaya is a stage in Soul Calibur II, a videogame I have never played.
My Thai friends invited me for the day so I brought along my Spanish and American friends to make the group complete.
We all met way to early in the morning at a BTS skytrain station which together we took to the end of the line. From the BTS station we took a taxi to the bus station and from the bus station a bus to Ayutthaya. It sounds a little complicated but with two local Thai’s in charge it was easy as pie. I have always wanted to use that simile in a sentence. Now I have.
We each rented a bicycle for something like 50 Baht (US$2) and took off towards the ruins past a herd of touristic elephants.
Once past the elephants we parked our bikes and walked through an open air market selling foods, some I had never seen before anywhere.
To put it simple you should take the trip if interested in a city with many different temples with Buddha figurines and monks. Some monks are walking around the city and others are sitting still in temples doing what monks do.
One Buddhist custom is to drop small coins into jars next to figurines in postures representing each day of the week in order to get a wish from Buddha. My friend was very open in teaching us about her religion bringing us to each of the temples and showing us different customs.
In addition to the temples we also wandered through ruins. In this photo my American friend climbs the ruins clearly marked asking tourists not to.
The reason why this city looks so desolate is because of the Burmese. They invaded Ayutthaya in 1767 and almost completely burnt the city. Most of what still stands are temples and palaces since they were the only buildings made of stone at that time. As normal for Thailand it did rain that day in short spurts, hence the throwaway trash-bag ponchos.
I was exhausted this entire trip. My trick to stay awake was to take many photos.
Unlike a previous photos indicating for tourists not to climb, some parts were fine.
I may never visit the famous Ankor Wat ruins in Cambodia but maybe this is close enough?
Elephants are really, really important in Thai culture. They even have National Elephant Day on March 13th.
“They are a traditional symbol of royal power, an essential feature of Buddhist art and architecture, an a spiritual mentor for people of all walks of life.It originated in ancient India, where the multi headed elephant of the Vedic god was white and where, in one of the Buddhist Jataka Tales, Vessantara (Buddha) gave a white state elephant to a drought-stricken people because it was believed to have the power to bring rain. In Southeast Asian kingdoms, the white elephant has traditionally represented divine royal power. The number of white elephants held by a king largely determined his power in the eyes of regional adversaries, and the white elephant was the featured emblem of the national flag of Siam until the name of the country was changed to Thailand. “
While they tried to go inside and explore the temples like Indiana Jones I kept a safe distance from the urine smelling caves.
We saw many temples and on the way back to return our bikes we rode through the town a few times finally making use of those bikes.
On the way back to Bangkok we took the train for 20 Baht each which was less than ideal stopping in a new town every five minutes. For once I fell asleep.
Oh yeah, if you are actually interested in learning about Ayutthaya you can watch this dry history channel esque video explaining it in more detail.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ng42N5GFJxc[/youtube]