Ayutthaya - Ruined Capital of Siam
Ayutthaya Travel Blog› entry 9 of 25 › view all entries
July 8th, 2007 – by: nooker72
John and I decided to travel by train (which was ridiculously cheap) so we met up at the Bang Sue metro stop which is located near the train station.
We arrived at the next station after about 10 minutes and the same man who had stopped the train and told us we could buy our tickets at the next station pointed out where we could go to buy our tickets.
We caught the next train and rode 3rd class, which for the hour and half trip was perfectly fine, it was a standard seat with fans and windows that opened.
We got to Ayutthaya around 11:30am. The train station is across the river from the island so we caught the river ferry (3 Baht) to the other side, then we rented some bikes so we could get around the island quicker (40 Baht for the day) and set off to see some ruins.
Our first stop was the ruins of Wat Ratchaburana. We wandered around the ruins and climbed the Prang in the middle. Inside the prang, some steep stairs lead down to the crypt that was built to house the remains of the two brothers of the King who built Wat Ratchaburana. Apparently, they died in a duel for the throne, I don’t know if they were dueling with each other and that’s how the King who built it became King (which would explain his generosity in building the Wat) or if they were dueling with the King and lost (in which case, he was even more generous).
After that, we rode over to Wat Phra Mahathat. At one time, there was a huge prang in the center of this complex (150 ft high), but it collapsed a long time ago. It is surrounded by some restored chedi, but the real attraction at Wat Mahathat is the stone Buddha head that has become imbedded in the gnarled roots of a banyan tree.
Our next stop was Viharn Phra Mongkhon Bophit, which was built to house the restored giant Buddha statue that had sat on the spot exposed to the elements since the fall of Ayutthaya. The building seems almost too small for the giant (39 ft) statue. Mongkhon Bophit is a busy place, there are venders lining the path to the building and the building itself is filled with worshipers. One of the interesting things is that there are lots of smaller Buddha statues which are in the process of being gilded.
Next door to Mongkhon Bophit is Wat Phra Sri Sanphet (30 Baht), whose three identical chedi are probably the most iconic image of Ayutthaya. They were built to house the remains of three a King and his father and brother. The first two in 1492, and the last one was added in 1540. At one time both Wat Sri Sanphet and the giant Buddha statue were located on the grounds of the royal palace, but after the city was abandoned, the bricks from the palace were moved to Bangkok to fortify the new capital, so all that remains are the foundation.
After Wat Sri Sanphet we stopped for lunch at one of the outdoor restaurant tents on the western side of the temple. We both had some delicious Pad Thai (40 Baht). Then we continued on our bike tour of the island.
Our next stops were at Wat Tammickarat which is known for its lion statues and Wat Lokayasutha which has a giant reclining Buddha, before heading to the south eastern point of island, where the Na Pam Sak and Chao Phraya Rivers come together, so that we could take a ferry to see the active temple of Wat Phanan Choeng (20 Baht).
We road across on the ferry (4 Baht) with one of the monks and the view as we crossed the river was very cool. On the other side there was a dock where the fish are apparently fed frequently because there were tons of them in a feeding frenzy. The temple has an definite Chinese feel to it as it used to be a favorite of Chinese traders. Inside is another huge bronze Buddha, but it was currently being restored so was surrounded by scaffolding so I didn’t take any pictures. While we were there they were taking down its saffron colored robbing, which is put on again every weekend. The sheets of cloth are very long and there were at least 20 people helping to take them down. In the other rooms of the temple we saw various worshippers (again helping to cover smaller statues in gold, as well as praying with incense and lotus blossoms).
After that we took a ferry back across the river (4 Baht) and biked back towards the train station. John’s bike seat had been giving him trouble most of the day because the bold was lose and so the seat tipped way forward, but on the way back the seat post bent and he had to ride standing up. The man that we rented the bikes from was not too happy, but then again neither was John about having to ride a bike with a messed up seat all day. Eventually it got worked out and we took the ferry back (3 Baht) to the train station to find out when the next train left for Bangkok.
Once back in Bangkok, we decided to grab some dinner near the metro stop. We wanted to try the pizza place, but there was no where to sit and eat so we ate at a Thai place instead. I ordered fried Glass noodles (35 Baht) with chicken and was expecting some thin, translucent noodles, similar to I have had elsewhere (including Singha Thai, a great little Thai restaurant in West Allis, WI), but when my plate arrived, the glass noodles were large, bright green, translucent tubes. They kind of looked like lime jello, but they tasted delicious. You would never have known from the way they tasted that they were bright green, they tasted just like regular noodles.
Overall it was a great day, and cheap too. When you add up the costs of things we did and throw in about 40 Baht for water purchased throughout the day, my total comes to about 300 Baht, which is less than $10. I love Thailand!
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