Thailand Adventure Day 2: Ayutthaya
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Anyway, we had a sumptous intercontinental breakfast at the hotel - we had waffle, bacon, omelet, French toast, fruits, blueberry danish and the list goes on. I am not a morning person so I'm not really in the mood to chat that morning (usually I'm quiet at mornings as my mind is not awake). Well, I have no choice because the cab the would bring us to Ayutthaya, our itinerary for that day, came at around 8:30.
Ayutthaya used to be a capital of Thailand from 1350 to 1767. It was a huge city with beautiful temples. In 1767, it was totally destroyed by the Burmese and the Thai people has not forgiven them for doing this. The gold that were stolen from them are now seen from Rangoon and what was left were enormous ruins which attracted a lot of tourists all across the globe. On December 1991, Ayuttaya was declared as a World Heritage Site in Thailand.
1. Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon
Located in the Southeast of the Ayutthaya Muang Island, the temple was established in 1357 AD in the reign of King U-thong (1350-1369). The Great Chedi Chai Mongkhon, a token of King Naresuan's victory over the Crown Prince of Burma in the duel on elephant back, was erected later in the reign of King Naresuan (1590-1605) at the same time of the temple renovation. Phra Phuttha Chaiya Mongkhon in the ordination hall is one of the most sacred Buddha images in Ayutthaya (excerpt taken from the Thaiways website).
One of Thailand's famous symbol is an elephant. Most of the tourists who visited Thailand never fail to ride an elephant :) We all paid 500 baht for a 30-minute elephant ride that would take us around the ruins and a swamp. Each of us were provided with 3 pieces of cucumber which was use to feed our respective elephant. I am really scared of heights and based from my pictures, you can see that I'm scared while the rest of my companions were enjoying it. It may seem scary but believe it or not, I had a blast :)
This is the famous site with the Buddha’s head inside of a tree. It almost looks like the tree is giving birth to him. Locals like to say that the tree lifted it off the ground since it was so holy. Wat Mahatat is perhaps the most historically relevant ruin in Ayutthaya. There are some very unique chedis here, but the main highlight remains the Buddha’s head in the tree (excerpt taken from the Ayutthaya Info website). Notice that in of these pictures, the buddhas were headless. It was believed that the heads of these statues were stolen by the Burmese.
Wat Chaiwatthanaram was built in 1630 by King Prasat Thong. One theory is that he built this temple on the location of his former home to make merit for his mother – or possibly stepmother. He also had Bang Pa-In Palace build in honor of a second maternal figure, which causes debate as to who King Prasat Thong’s mother actually was. A second theory is that King Prasat Thong (1629-1656) built it as a testament to his greatness and to quell the revolts caused when he usurped the throne. Another theory suggests that he built this temple to celebrate his recent victory over Angkor, using captured slaves and architects from that city to construct it. A final theory is that Wat Chaiwatthanaram was established as part of a campaign to ward off total destruction of the city at the end of the Buddhist millennial year. Buddhist monks predicted the annihilation of Ayutthaya at the millennium unless enough merit had been accumulated by then, so King Prasat Thong launched a massive campaign to build and renovate temples across the city. Whatever the purpose, Wat Chaiwatthanaram marks the beginning of the late Ayutthaya period. The Khmer-style Prang returned after a lengthy period of absence while replaced by bell-shaped chedis (influenced by Ceylon and the Sukhothai Kingdom) (condensed from Ayutthaya Info website)
The highlight of this temple is its enormous reclining Buddha Image (37 metres long and 8 metres high). It is usually wrapped in brightly colored orange cloth, which makes a beautiful contrast with the blue sky. Notice also how Buddha’s toes are equal in length. This is one of the better sites to visit while in Ayutthaya with little time (taken from Ayutthaya Info website).
Wat Phra Si Sanphet was the original site of the Grand Palace, but no monks lived here because it was considered a royal temple. The first two bell-shaped chedis were built in 1492 by King Ramabodhi II (1491-1529). The eastern chedi contains the ashes of his father, King Boromtrailokanath (Trailok). The middle chedi contain the ashes of his elder brother, King Borommaracha III. The western chedi, contains his own remains. At one time, each of the three chedis had a wiharn structure built between them, and they are still represented by the remaining staircase. Another wiharn was added in 1499, which contained a standing bronze Buddha image that was covered with gold. The Burmese melted down the 19 metre high Buddha image for its gold (taken from the Ayutthaya Info website).
The principal bronze Buddha image, Phra Mongkhon Bophit, is presumed to be built in the reign of King Sanphet VIII or King Tiger (1703-0708). In 1767, when Ayutthaya fell to the Burmese, the vicinity of the monastery was set on fire to remove the gold that gilded the stupas there. Phra Mongkhon Bophit was burnt too. The right arm from the shoulder fell off. A few years ago, the Fine Arts Department discovered lots of small Buddha images inside the left chest. (taken from Thaiways Magazine website).
Before we entered the temple, there was a young boy who's trying to sell us some flowers for the Buddha. He was talking to us in Thai and we can't understand him. We tried to take his picture but the little boy was shy (see the boy with a stalk in the picture below).
We decided to go to MBK shopping mall for dinner. It is one of the popular malls in Bangkok. This was the first time where we ate at the food court. Eating at this kind of establishment required us to be adventurous because no one would explain to us what a particular dish contains unlike in a restaurant where the waiter can explain the ingredients. I ate Pad Thai that night and I was satisfied with it. When we're done eating, we did some window shopping, a few minutes before the mall closes. Fortunately, I managed to buy a city mug from Starbucks, which I told myself to collect in every city that I've visited.
Back at the hotel, we looked at the pictures that we took earlier and laughed at ourselves before we got back to bed. It was a tiring day for us but hey, this is expected. I'm glad that on this day, I've tried something that I've never experienced on my first trip to Thailand - to visit Ayutthaya. I really enjoyed it; in fact, I highly recommend this place for those who's going to visit this country for an authentic Thai experience ;)