It was gonna be an exciting day......we were going to Ayutthaya, a much anticipated trip....can't wait!!
|Ruins of Phra Maha That Temple|
Ayutthaya, Thailand's 2nd capital from AD1350 to 1767, a total of 417 years under the reign of 33 kings over 5 dynasties, was officially declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 13 December 1991.
Climbing up this centerpiece is tough....the narrow steps and steep incline makes climbing scary....as if we were gonna fall off the stair anytime! It was built exactly the same way as Angkor Wat.
Tough it may be, but the reward is a splendid view of the temple ground and its surrounding.
Over the years, tomb raiders have stolen almost all the heads of these Buddha statues and sold them as antiques for high profit. Nevertheless, due to tight crackdown by the Thai government, many replica has emerged in the market where unscrupulous merchants tried to pass off as the Real McCoy and sell them at exorbitant prices. Should you decide to buy a piece, always make sure that there are official papers to allow its export.
Each row of headless Buddha statues leads to a Buddha, like the one in the picture below.
Thinking that these 2 statues were spared their heads? Nope.....these are 'New' heads!
Though the temple was in ruins, walking the compound and among the ruins brought a sense of peace and tranquility, it was as if we were lost in history, in another mystical world.
With that spiritual fullness, we went on to the ruins of the royal residence where the kings used as summer retreats. But, instead of walking the ground, we had our first elephant ride.
|Being our first, it was scary. The height and the movement takes a little getting use to before |
we settled down to enjoy the ride.
|Wat Phra Si Sanphet, a major temple in the Royal Palace compound|
After our ride, we went for our basis elephant education and understand the role of elephants in Thailand's history at Elephant Kraal. Elephants are highly respected in Thailand as they were the animals that fought with and for them during their numerous war against the Burmese in the early centuries.
There can be only One king (leader) in the herd.
|That's the boss......leader of the herd.|
Feeding time.....we also get to feed the mama elephants with their favourite food....sugar cane.
|That's my good girl.....I mean the elephant|
While feeding the elephants, we need to have steady hands when their trunk takes the food from us so as not to scare them. Also, very important.....stay away while they eat least you want to get dirtied by their leftover food (they'll 'splash' out the leftover or non-edible part).
Feeding is over.....it's play time with the babies...
|Look at the small trunk that this future leader has. Its hair is short and spiky....pricky to the touch|
Before lunch, we visited another limited edition.....one of the ONLY 5 Stone Buddha statue in the world.
What a stark contrast! Somehow, though the place that houses the stone Buddha is small and dirty, the stone statue felt more spiritual than the gold-plated one.
After lunch, we cruise around Ayutthaya in a longtailed boat.
|The water does splash up occasionally, but is fun and we saw Ayutthaya from another angle|
|Ruins of Phra Maha That Temple|
Every September, the water level will rise another 2.5 metres from the current water level, flooding this and many other houses built along the river.
It was a breezy day....great for cruising this historical city. If only we can row our own boat, it would add some romance into the mystical air that surrounds this place.
Our final stop before heading back to Bangkok city is the ruins of Wat Chaiwatthanaram Temple.
|Another headless Buddha statue.....|
Here.....we found the head!!!
Talk of tree 'hugging' the temple in Ta Prohm, shooting site of Tomb Raider; here in Ayutthaya they have the tree 'hugging' the head of the Buddha statue!
It was said that when the head was accidentally chopped off from the statue, it rolled over to the foot of this tree and left unnoticed. After many years, the roots of the tree enveloped the head as they grow. Out of superstition, the head was spared being smuggled and sold off.
What a lucky day! While we were about to board our bus to head back to Bangkok, a group of dancers and a monk were preparing themselves for a prayer session. Of course, all of us requested to stay for this rare sight.....a 'real' prayer, not an entertainment show!
With these prayer, we wrapped up our short trip to Ayutthaya. If only we had more time, Ayutthaya, though laid back, is a nice place to roam around and explore. It is a big contrast to the city life that we were part of.
Since it was only late afternoon, we took the skytrain to The Emporium, a shopping centre which houses Bangkok's international designers. It is a nice place but we prefer the Pathum Wan area for their wide variety of products at better prices. We visited Mah Boon Krong (MBK), Tokyu Departmental Store, Siam Discovery Center and the streets along these shopping malls. If you are a Disney fan, do check out the huge Disney shop situated along the street of Siam Center. It is tough shopping but the satisfaction of buying items at prices lower than back home more than compensated for our hard work!
We had our dinner at the food court on the 6th floor of MBK. We were instantly lost in the wide variety of food offered, but only for a short while. We've locked in our target.....the yummy beef noodles (this store is one of the most popular in Bangkok, so expects long queue) and the cheap, delicious and huge dessert (we had 3 different types of dessert at one go)!
Just outside the food court (or maybe on the 5th floor), there's a stall that sells authentic Thai snacks. There are too many to name. We bought 2 bags full of almost all the variety to share with family and friends back home....only one word to describe....YUMMY!!
We head back to Arima Onsen for massage before calling it a night. After so much walking, weight carrying (the shopping bags) and the lack of sleep, the cheap massage was God sent. Our muscles (even muscles we never knew we had) were aching badly....every steps we took was a pain.
We had purposely stayed over the weekend in Bangkok so as to visit Chatuchak Weekend Market. It is a HUGE market with almost anything and everything under the sun for sale. As there are too many shops and stalls, it is extremely cramped, crowded, stuffy (not much ventilation) and humid. There are some drink and food stalls. But, you probably only have time for a quick bite given the large scale of the market to explore! We were there when the market opens (around 9 or 10am) till 4pm when it closes, and still we did not manage to cover everything. Things are cheap but don't bargain too hard like in Patpong Night Market......unless you want to get some nasty look and scolding from the stallholers. We travelled there in the skytrain but back to the hotel in cab.....and we started wondering how were we going to fit everything into our luggage!!
It was a fruitful and fulfilling trip, and we would definitely be back again to explore this interesting city.
This post first appeared on Carefree And Off-the-beaten Tracks Travels Around The World, please read the originial post: here