Indiana Jones and the mystery of the buddha in the tree....

Ayutthaya Travel Blog

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Main prang at Wat Ratchaburana

So, we had to leave Chiang Mai for Ayutthaya, home of Buddhist temple ruins.


We booked on an overnight VIP double decker bus from just by our guesthouse, a VIP bus which was 'definately' a sleeper bus, which would have a meal stop at midnight and arrive shortly after 6am. We didn't ask too many questions, partly we were just annoyed we had to leave, and partly we were distracted by the cute cat at the agency....


We arrived at the agency shortly after 6pm to get a transfer to the bus.

Ground at Wat Ratchaburana
Strangely we were taken not to the bus station, but a random petrol station. There were plenty of other people there so it didn't matter. Our VIP double decker bus turned out to be.....a coach. Double decker if you count that the driver was lower than we were, 'sleeper' if you count that the seats went back a couple of inches. So began another fun night of travelling.


We had the joy of having a couple of middle aged '*******' behind us, doing nothing for our bad moods by talking about hitting mangy dogs and how they 'really should be on the plane'. After approximatly 0 minutes sleep we arrived at the rest stop, and found there was nothing much in way of food apart from a really nasty looking selection of meat trays and some crisps. I decided I'd rather try and eat than risk keeling over, paid the 40B and was presented with some dubious meat and extremely spicy rice, we could have been back in China.

Wat Mahathat


We got back on the coach and thankfully got a little sleep before the lights came on and we were told to get off. Just us. The rest of the coach was continuing to Bangkok. What time was it? 4.15am. Where were we? 'Not far, not far, look taxi'. Great, dumped at the side of the road 15 mins drive from the town at 4.15 in the morning. Lucky for us, there was a taxi ready to take us for an extortiatate amount of money. Slightly LESS fortunately for us, the guesthouse we asked them to take us to was closed until 7am. Oh well, they had an outside cafe area, some floor cushions and a strange nightwatchman, we/I slept until then.


Ayutthaya is a virtual island, caused by the convergence of 3 rivers. It was originally the capital of Thailand (hence all the temples), until the Burmese invaded and ultimately raided the place resulting in a lot of temple ruins.


We only intended to stay in Ayutthaya a couple of days, so followed our rather dubious map to investigate some of the temples. The first temple we found was Wat Ratchaburana, consisting firstly of the ruins of the great hall, then the main temple tower behind. It was very impressive, a totally different style to the more modern temple that we have been seeing, with a cone shaped temple as the centrepiece. Surrounding this were other small prang (spires). We were able to climb up the main tower and inside, but decided against the walk down inside the crypt style basement (it was dark and scary looking!). The whole area was really interesting to see, and once again I found the idea of such a lot of history quite hard to comprehend.


Across the road we found Wat Mahathat, home to Ayutthaya's most famous image, the buddha in the tree.

Buddha in the tree!
We knew what we were looking for, it just took a while to find it! After a good deal of walking around, much ohhing and ahhing, and a fair amount of 'we're not leaving til we find the flamin' thing', we stumbled across the iconic tree not 100m from the entrance! Despite Lisa's initial 'I thought it would be bigger', it was (I thought) very impressive. The buddha head made of stone is engulfed by a huge tree, whose roots have spent hundreds of years growing round it. We were understandably not allowed to get near enough to touch it, but quite close. The temple has been dated to the 14th Century so we can make a guess at how old the tree and buddha are. I find it very hard to get my head around something so old, I keep wondering what life must have been like when the tree first started growing, and here we are now photographing it....

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Main prang at Wat Ratchaburana
Main prang at Wat Ratchaburana
Ground at Wat Ratchaburana
Ground at Wat Ratchaburana
Wat Mahathat
Wat Mahathat
Buddha in the tree!
Buddha in the tree!
Ayutthaya
photo by: the_bloodsucker