19 August 2009

พระนครศรีอยุธยา

North of Bangkok along the Mae Nam Chao Phrya River is the old capital, Ayutthaya(the English spelling of the post title), of the Siamese Ayutthaya Kingdom. Founded in 1350 C.E. it had an estimated population of 1 million people by 1700 C.E. at its height making it one of the largest cities in the world at the time. Now it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, filled with the ruins of the old city and of the temples that were built there. Unlike Stonehenge and other ancient sites, you can go right up to them, climb around, meditate. They are wide open to the public. It was one of the best days I spent in Thailand learning the history of the Siamese kingdom before it moved down river to Bangkok.
Wat Chaiwatthanaram with my uncle
Wat Mahathat and the sandstone Buddha head in the roots of a Banyan tree
The chedi's of Wat Phra Si Sanphet (the old stone) and Viharn Phra Mongkol Bopitah (the red and gold temple)
After walking around all day it was nice to catch a ride, on an elephant and have some sparkling-dragon water. One of the other pachyderms even wanted to give my uncle a kiss!
At the Royal Summer Palace I was exhausted and hot and didn't get many pictures but I did climb to the top of the observatory and made a new friend out of a giant wild lizard.

For our trip back to Bangkok we took a cruise down the Chao Phrya River

*Note: The whole trip to Thailand my aunt, uncle and I noticed how strangely tourist-free everything was. No more so than this day trip did we see the lack of travelers. We had most of the ruins completely to ourselves with no one in sight besides our tiny group. It was eerily empty at the Summer Palace, and the river cruise was set up for easily 100 people, but there were only 10 people taking the trip. It was very strange.

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