Monday, June 25, 2012

Ayutthaya (Thailand) - UNESCO World Heritage Centre

Ayutthaya! Such a significant name to my ears. Ayutthaya! Bookmarked for as long as I can remember. Me like been patiently waiting to explore Ayutthaya, said as a must do if you are in Bangkok, and finally, the day arrived. As if my dream came through. Though, honestly, I really didn't plan for Ayutthaya to be included in this solo trip of mine which started in Chonburi (Chonburi & Pattaya), followed by arriving in Bangkok (Pathumwan Part 1 & Pathumwan Part 2and immediately jump starting my sightseeing (Bangkok - Through My Canon). I survived. I sure did. Albeit the hiccup before finding my way back to the hotel (Pathumwan Princess Part 3) and trust me, sleeping alone for the first time in your entire life in a new place? Aha! I made it. Thanks also to the hotel staff and travel agent staff for their kind advice on me safe keeping myself in Bangkok. 

The start to Ayutthaya? Very early start. Ready by 6.00am for tour agent to fetch me and then. To his office for hopping into the bus alongside the rest of the tourists and tour guide. Off we left to Ayutthaya. Quite a journey. At least an hour 30 minutes, and once we entered Ayutthaya, I won't stop admiring. Padi fields on both sides, Ayutthaya at it's nature and lying in ruins UNESCO World Heritage Centre. The first place we visited? Bang Pa-In Palace. Tour guide briefing us at the entrance and we given 2 hours for viewing and also, telling us that we have a choice between walking the full ground or buggy service. Me the only one who paid RM10.00 for buggy whereas the rest preferred exercising their legs in the burning sun by 9.30am. Not at all a regret paying. Why? My adorable buggy driver driving me around, awaiting me till I have seen whatever I must and he even volunteering in photographing me. 

Ban Pa-In Palace, aka Summer Palace. Wah! In a huge compound. Well maintained and showcasing the was. The was of life and style of former Thai Kings. How they lived, how they entertained, how many wives they had, I might as well include their concubines and mistresses, also, the number of children they made and their houses. All of these conclusively put together for the wholesomeness in Bang Pa-In Palace.   

However, there is only so much you can see. Outside viewing is definitely allowed, whereas inside is limited and though you are can peep at the interior from outside, you can't click your camera. Furthermore, decency is the way in Bang Pa-In Palace. Legs must be covered by paying RM10.00 and wrapping the Thai sarong around you and on your way out, return it and collect back you money. Me and Bang Pa-In Palace? Within an hour and while waiting for the rest, I grabbed some snacks and a drink from the stall outside.     

Next stop? Wat Mahathat. At the heart of Ayutthaya. Wat Mahathat, aka "Temple Of Great Relics". A  symbolic center built during the 14th century A.D and where Buddha’s relics were enshrined. Sadly though, reduced to ruins when Burmese army invaded Ayutthaya. Says it all I suppose why many of the Buddha images are headless? Regardless, Wat Mahathat is sincerely meaningful. One of the most beautiful temple complexes despite what's left of it today, and still remaining as a major tourist attraction. Wat Mahathat mind you, is where Thailand's world known iconic image of Buddha head is. Trapped in the roots of the bodhi tree. Priceless. Will keep you wondering how, why and the possibilities.  

From Wat Mahathat to Wat Na Phramen. A small interesting temple located at the river side of Lopburi, constructed during the late Ayutthaya-period and the only temple in Ayutthaya city that was not destroyed by the war. Gold leaf crowned largest Buddha across the ordination hall is the main attraction and where you will also other deities statues and the "Nine-Faced" Buddha. In the small sermon hall to the right, the Phra Khantharat Buddha image and more deities statues.  

No, we are not done yet with temples in Ayutthaya. One more on our list was Wat Lokaysutharam for seeing the largest in Ayutthaya reclining Buddha (32m long, 8m high). Nice. That's all in Wat Lokaysutharam, a short stop for less than 20 minutes.    

Officially Ayutthaya tour was over and to return back to Bangkok, we cruised down Chao Phraya River while lunching. Lunch on board. Not bad. Quite a great meal. Me again the only Indian and Asian too amongst all Westerners. Mostly senior citizens who weren't like the most friendlies people. Nonetheless, I made friends with those Italian guys. Almost sign language because except for a few words of English they knew and me standing at the upper deck for maybe 20 minutes most to most. But once sun became really unbearable. I decided it will best to be seated in the close up downstairs area. Sipping into coffee and looking out of the window for the views of temples on both sides which I have already visited  and also Thai living by the riverside.

Dropped off at the hotel, I wouldn't keep quiet. I was still inching for more of Bangkok. A quick dah into travel agent's office for inquiring what else can I do in Bangkok. Done. Paid for Calypso Cabaret tonight and also, sightseeing the next day.

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