I wanted to visit another UNESCO world heritage site, Thailand’s Old Capital, Ayutthaya. It was said that in 1991, UNESCO by the World Heritage Committee designated Ayutthaya and associated historic towns as a world heritage site.
It’s 1.5-2hrs away from Bangkok by road (76km north of Bangkok). I booked to join to a group tour through this website http://www.absolutebangkoktour.com/ (ABs13 : Ayuttha & Bangpa-in Summer Palace by Cruise (Grand Pearl or White Orchid). I tried paying through the internet but “luckily” it didn’t go through. Luckily. you might be wondering why. I’ll tell you later. Anyway, they allowed me to pay by cash on the day of the tour.
Before I went to bed, I scanned on possible options of getting to Ayutthaya and found out that there were other means such as train and minivans from Victory Monument but didn’t anymore read thoroughly because I know I would be comfortably joining a group with a guide. I didn’t memorize or write any plans as well because, I planned to let the tour guide bring me along the best sites and sceneries of Ayutthaya.
I excitedly woke up early. I missed my hotel’s complementary breakfast because they would start serving at 7:30am and meeting time with the group was at 6:45-7:30 am at Asia Hotel. I took BTS to Asia Hotel and waited. Seven-thirty am came and there was still no sign of anyone from Grand Pearl hence I asked the reception. They said these companies were sometimes late due to heavy traffic jam. I still waited until about 7:45am. I already lost my patience thus I gave them a call. I borrowed a hand phone from one of the guards outside the hotel.
Argh. To cut the story short, they booked me on a wrong date. Instead of 1 Aug, they put me in the next day, my flight date! I was upset and angry! They offered me other options like getting a private car to Ayutthaya without guide and it would even cost more! I got challenged and proudly scolded them “ I joined the tour group because I wanted to listen to history and stories from the guide, if you’re asking me to go without a guide, I might as well go on my own, by public transport, because I know how to get there on my own!” then hung up!
Wahh. I stood by my word. Without a plan, without a map and without broader knowledge of Ayutthaya, I went ahead and looked for the van from Victory Monument. I found it!
it was outside this building
It cost 60 Baht one-way. That was the only thing I was certain about, taking that van, everything after that, I had to say, “Thy will be done” already! lol I couldn’t sleep the whole trip because I wasn’t sure where and when to alight. Seeing road signs “Ayutthaya” gave me some relief that at least I took the correct van (I was scared that the dispatcher might have heard me wrongly and made me take a wrong van) and I was heading the right way.
Almost everyone alighted ahead of me. I alighted at the terminal and asked myself, “now what”? I walked back and forth the main street hoping to find a tourist information center. I was starting to feel exhausted when suddenly, out of one street; a Caucasian woman with a bicycle came out! OMG! I happily crossed and went into that street. Yay! There was a tour company (http://www.tourwiththai.com/)!
It was just few meters away from the terminal, just go straight and you would find it! I turned left, that was why it took me a while to finally see it! I went inside the office and spoke to this nicely done woman (in English). She offered me to hire a bicycle, a tuk tuk or a car. I chose to take tuk tuk because I was already sweating like I ran a full marathon that time! It cost me 800 Baht, including Chao Phraya River boat tour at 4pm. Didn’t anymore hire a guide because I didn’t want to spend too much, anyway, the lady also discouraged me from doing so because she said outside the temples, there would always be descriptions, hence, I followed her advise.
my ride that day
Entrance fee to the temples and ruins ranged from free to 20-50Baht.
1. Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon – “Great Monastery of Auspicious Victory” (20Baht)
The name was derived from the chedi built to commemorate the renowned victory of King Naresuan the Great over the massive Burmese invasion in 1593.
It’s large chedi stands tall and visible from great distance. Top of it’s chedi was visible from people travelling from Bangkok as soon as the boundary of Ayutthaya’s reached.
huh? I just read that there’s a Reclining Buddha inside here? I walked around the complex two times but didn’t see any! I hate myself for not seeing it! That’s why it’s still best to go with someone who knows the place best or read more about the place and prepare an itinerary/plan before going to it! Haiz!
2. Wat Maha That “Monastery of the Great Relic” (50Baht)
At the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767, the monastery was set on fire in the Burmese
I saw this in photos and this was one of the ruins I wanted to visit. The Buddha face entrapped in the roots of the tree was especially interesting at the same time creepy.
According to one pamphlet I bought, there was no clear historical evidence about the said Buddha head but it was assumed that when Ayutthaya was defeated by Burmese army in B.E. 2310, the Mahathat temple was set to fire and entirely destroyed and as a result,, most of its parts fell to the ground. It was deserted for hundreds of years and many tress had grown covering the Buddha’s head. Second assumption was that someone might have tried to steal it and due to its weight, the person was not able to carry it across the wall or someone might have come to scene thus, the thief just left it there.
3. Wat Ratchaburana “Monastery of the Royal Repairs or Monastery of the Royal Restoration”
main prang and vihara
currently being restored
headless garuda sculpture on the base
4. Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit “Buddha of the Holy and Supremely Auspicious
Phra Mongkhon Bophit is one of the largest bronze Buddha images in Thailand with its
measures of (approx) 9.5 meters across the lap and a height of 12.5 meters (without the
pedestal). The Buddha image is seated in the position of Subduing Mara.
from inside the temple
from inside the temple
5. Wat Phra Si Samphet (50Baht)
View of the three chedis
6. Wat Lokayasutharam
The highlight of this temple is its enormous reclining Buddha image (37 meters long and 8
meter high), which is located behind the ubosot (ordination hall). Another temple I wanted to check out.
7. Wat Thammikarat
The temple is now active with Buddhist monks.
This chedi is encircled by a large number of lion figures (singh).
Included in the tour package I purchased was a 2hr Chao Phraya River tour that would start at 4pm. I finished the tuktuk tour at 1:30 pm hence a 2.5hour break. I thought what should I do while waiting?
Hmmm Tadah! I found a Thai Massage place.
I had to do it to relax my much tensed up muscles hence I walked in and got my much awaited 1hr Thai massage. After the relaxing massage, I went for lunch at Tony’s Place.
I had Tom Yum once again and then to burn the calories I just took, I walked to the market, looked for a souvenir shop yet unfortunately, was unable to find one!
Alas! I only managed to buy one magnet and a book from the temples I visited prior to this break!
Yay! It was 10minutes before 4pm when I went back to TWT’s office to wait for the tuktuk that would send me to the harbor. Chao Phraya (nation’s principal water way) River Tour here I come!
8. Wat Phanan Choeng (20baht)
It was said that tourist who have not visited this temple will miss the opportunity of seeing one of the largest, oldest and most beautiful Buddha images. No photographs of this image could be found in any book or even in national museum because there is not enough room within the viharn to set a camera at the proper distance to get a complete picture of this image.
Phra Chao Phanan-choeng is an image in the posture of subduing Mara. It measures 14.25 meters from knee and 19meters in height (including the ornament above the head).
9. Wat Phutthai Sawsn
inside one of the smaller chedi
The highlight is a central prang that has been painted white.
“Inside the actual prang are two interesting Buddha footprints and a reclining Buddha image that hides in the back.” What?! I failed to see another Reclining Buddha?! Yes. If you happen to visit this temple please look for it! Due to time constraints, I was not able to properly look around. Argh Again!
Together with my stamina and endurance, my camera battery had died as well. My phone battery was also waiting for its end! Honestly, I was already exhausted and it was probably because of the boat ride, with the wind gently passing through my face and eyes and the boat’s rocking motion.
10. Wat Chaiwatthanaram
We were not allowed to get close to the structures. Well I think renovation was still ongoing at that time. View from afar was already ethereal! With the backdrop of the sunset, its view was fascinating!
Haiz. It made me think how lucky I was to be given the opportunity to see that view!
I saw a mosque and St Joseph’s Church from afar. I’m not very sure how many Mosques and Churches were there in Ayutthaya exactly but I was pretty satisfied and happy to see one of both that time!
Immediately after the boat tour, I rushed back to the terminal because the last trip was said to be 6:30pm, yet I saw the banner from the terminal, it’s til 730pm? Anyway, it was better early than to be late and be forced to take private car, which would definitely be a lot more expensive!
I directly went home through BTS from Victory Monument and had dinner at Big C! Another eventful day’s over!
On my last day in Thailand, I just went for early morning shopping at MBK. I got my mom a pair of earrings. I’ll surprise her on her birthday! At about 1pm, I headed down to the airport then by 4pm, flew back to Singapore!=D