A quick look at Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya is, if you do a quick google search, one of the oldest areas/cities/provinces in Thailand.  It was, at some point in Thai hist...

Ayutthaya is, if you do a quick google search, one of the oldest areas/cities/provinces in Thailand. 
It was, at some point in Thai history, the second capital of Thailand. 
(The first being Sukothai)
(Although in those days it was not called Thailand, but Siam). 

According to the myriad of international merchants that visited and traded with the city, the city of Ayutthaya was described to be the 'finest city ever seen'.
But, at some point in 1767, the neighbouring Burmese decided to attack Siam, burning and pillaging and probably eating all the mangoes. They sacked Ayutthaya, almost razing it to the ground, leaving in their wake a world heritage site for us foreigners to visit. 

Ok, history lesson over.
Thank you Wikipedia.

One of the cool things about Ayutthaya, or the part that i visited anyway, is that it is technically an island. There are three rivers that run around Ayutthaya creating the island. There are bridges over the water and more excitingly, ferries! 
i went for lunch at a restaurant beside the river and watched the river taxis transport people on their motorbikes and scooters onto and off the island. It was most amusing to see.

The ferry pulls up alongside the river bank, the motorbikes are driven onto the ferry, all neatly beside each other, and off the ferry sails with Thai men and women still perched upon their bikes. When the ferry reaches the opposite side of the river, the bike engines are fired up and they ride off the boat and continue on their way. 

i was quite fascinated.  
Layered transportation! 

But i didn't visit this ancient city to ogle at the water taxis. Rather, i came here to ogle at the ruins.
So without further ado behold the photographic evidence of my ogling!


First off, after arriving in Ayutthaya, i set off to secure myself a bicycle for the day.
This sliver coated beauty cost 40B ( +- R 15) to rent for the day.
By the end of the trip i was ready to swap my fiery red steed for this silver wonder.
(it's biggest merit was that it was the right size for me)

Oh beautiful tall bike, will you be mine? 
The red steeds' mistress loves another!
The horror!
So, accompanied by a new friend and armed with two maps i set off to see the sights!


 

Despite the two maps it still took me a while to a), figure out where i was and b), what ruin was i looking at. These two pictures are taken from outside the ruins while i was still figuring out which ones i wanted to go to...
( i think that these pictures are of the same structure, just from different angles)


With instruction to visit the historical park of Ayutthaya, as it is a world heritage site, i found out where it was on the map, paid my entrance fee, averted my eyes from the horrid little plates-with-photos-of-tourists-standing-in-front-of-the-ruins printed on them and proceeded to explore the site.


Wat Phra Si Sanphet


According to this model of what the original site would have looked like, it is impressive.
Not just the original, but the model itself as well!

Some very neat model building that i could only dream of achieving in university.
Sigh
This site, if i remember correctly, would have included a royal palace, and i tried to imagine what it would have been like with all the gentry and other fancy folk wandering the paths and labouring up the ridiculously steep stairs in their traditional dress in the scorching sun.
i didn't do too well at imagining this...
Too hot.
Why?!



A few stray dogs, a common sight in Thailand, had made their home among the ruins and while i was there i observed an older Thai lady climb those steps with a 5l bottle of water in one hand and a bag of dog food in the other. i followed her up the stairs and discovered that she had fed the dogs.
As she climbed down the stairs on the other side, two dogs ran to greet her and sniff at her bag of food. It seems like she is a regular there. Keeping the dogs alive and healthy.

i climbed up the stairs of the white stupa like structures just to see what was there. There was an alcove.
The stairs were steep
But i got a good view of the park.






After finishing up in the Historical Park i cycled a short distance to the next site...
Wat Phra Mahathat

Now for some prangs!
This is a prang:



There are also prangs in Lop Buri (another very old city in Thailand) but the Ayutthaya prangs are unique to the Lop Buri prangs. The top of the Lop Buri prangs are stepped whereas these are tapered creating a conical effect.

Here are the stepped Lop Buri prangs:
Photo credits: www.thailandforvisitors.com

These prangs are quite gigantic. Do not be fooled into thinking otherwise.
See how small the people are?
And this is a much smaller structure than the three prangs pictured on the left.


Note the rather questionable level of the foundations?
Well, there are one or two structures that will be needing some propping up soon....

i went inside one of the very big prangs pictured top left. It appears to be completely hollow all the way up! i met 3 resident bats, and by met i mean i smelled and saw them snoozing just out of the lights reach.

At the Wat Phra Mahathat site there lies the iconic 'head in tree roots Buddha'.
There is a small sign that instructs selfie takers and etc to crouch below the head of the Buddha so as it show respect.


And that was me done with this site.

i hopped onto my bicycle with the intention of heading to another point on the map, but instead i cycled right out to the main road. But that is ok because i found this beautiful ruin.
Also, it was free to look at. Bonus


i am first of all really, really pleased with the two photographs on the left and, completely in awe of the workmanship that went into creating these structures. Incredible detail.
And this was the effort that was put into a less important structure, and one that was minuscule in comparison to the monsters i could see peeking over the trees and surrounding buildings as the van drove in Ayutthaya. There must have been legions of skilled artisans at hand.


And so.

Having spent the good part of the day being baked by the sun, looking at ruins, taking pictures and cycling about, i packed my map away, returned the hired bicycle (not without regrets) and caught the next van back home.

The nice Thai lady on the bus might have laughed at the farang snoozing but she did offer me a double seat as soon as there was the capacity for me to take up two seats.
What a nice lady.


Last but not least, here is a picture of two contrasting structures competing in height.




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