Ayutthaya

23 Mar

For the second long weekend with our visitors, Mr.Chi drove us up to Ayutthaya, the former capital of the kingdom of Siam. The city is approximately 1 1/2 hours north of Bangkok, but it feels like a completely different world. The city is located on a large island along the Chao Phraya River, the same river that runs through the center of Bangkok further south. It was a major trading port for almost 400 years until the Burmese invaded in 1767, smashed everything they could lay their hands on, and melted down the Buddha statues for the gold. That’s when the Thais moved their capital to Bangkok. Since then, many of the sites have been restored or preserved. Ayutthaya is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site (another one for my list!!).

Modern day Ayutthaya is hot, dusty, and feels a bit like urban sprawl with the urban center missing. The main attractions are the amazing temples and ruins that are scattered throughout the city. Some of the temples are still being used and are in excellent condition, while others are well-preserved ruins. Personally, I find the ruins more interesting. We hired a tuk-tuk to drive us around between the sites (another form of wacky transportation unique to Southeast Asia!!). The driver was obviously accustomed to dealing with tourists as he knew all the best places to go and how to get there. The day started out pleasantly cool – our breakfast on the veranda of our hotel was delightful – but the heat soon started creeping up. By noon, we had seen 5 temples (2 ancient, 3 less so), found elephant rides for the ladies, and were all completely starving and exhausted.

After a long lunch and a bit of beer beverage, the ladies opted to head back to Bangkok and find more of a fiesta – Ayutthaya was significantly more laid-back than the BKK. Orestes and I decided to stay another night and enjoy the peace and quiet. Our friends Zach and Nancy also happened to be in Ayutthaya, and the four of us took a short boat tour around the island. The boat ride ended up being my favorite part of our time in Ayutthaya. From the streets, the city looked dry and dusty. From the water, the city was cool, green, and lovely, with lush vegetation overhanging the river. Many of the temples are right along the riverfront, and the houses are constructed on stilts looming over the water. There are tons of boats on the river: tourist boats, fishing boats, traditional long-tails, and commercial barges loaded down with rice and other goods. Several canals intersect with the main rivers, so it is possible to get many places via water transportation. As we floated along the canals, we saw many people hanging out on the waterfront, having dinner, fishing, even swimming (although I personally wouldn’t get in that water). From the vantage point of our boat, I felt like you could see the city’s origins as a shipping port, and it looked nicer than the Ayutthaya we saw from the streets. My opinion of the boat ride may be slightly biased – I have an overwhelming love of boats of any kind – but the fact remains that the city looked more pleasant from the water.

All in all, Ayutthaya was enjoyable. I wouldn’t go rushing back in the immediate future (there are only so many temple tours one needs to go on) but it was a nice weekend away from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. Also, the country girl in me was psyched that we could see the stars. Favorite things I saw include:

* Batman-themed tuk-tuk. I need this.

* Sunset over Wat Chai Wattanaram – so many photos taken!!

* The way the ruins are mixed into everyday life. There would be an ancient pillar standing by the roadside, and everything modern was simply constructed around it – mailbox, telephones pole, parking lot. Ayutthaya reminded me a bit of Rome in this respect.

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4 Responses to “Ayutthaya”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Ayutthaya 10K | The Jacksons Take Thailand - December 22, 2013

    […] by yours truly during our last visit – if you’re interested in those, click here. Check out the pics below for some shots of our […]

  2. Myanmar (Burma) | The Jacksons Take Thailand - November 1, 2014

    […] stormed into the kingdom of Siam (Thailand) and chopped all the heads off the Buddha statues in Ayutthaya. Things were going fairly well for the Burmese until the British realized the potential for natural […]

  3. Ayutthaya Half Marathon | The Jacksons Take Thailand - December 21, 2014

    […] year, several of us decided that it was time to up our game. Colby and I set our sights on the Ayutthaya half marathon, the logical step up from the 10K, and Bridget, after all of her half wins, started […]

  4. City to Shore ~ Biking to Maha Chai | The Jacksons Take Thailand - May 3, 2016

    […] the wall was surrounded by a moat, and adorned with fourteen forts (the Burmese had just sacked Ayutthaya, the old capital, so multiple forts must have sounded like a solid idea). Today, there are only two […]

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