Two days in Bangkok was plenty for me. I was eager to move on to greener pastures. I took a taxi to the Hua Lamphang train station and boarded the train to Ayutthaya. The trip was about 45 miles and took about an hour and a half. My ticket cost 15 baht, or about 43 cents (1 dollar ≈ 35 baht). At most stops, old ladies come on board and walk up and down the aisle, selling homemade food in little plastic bags. When I arrived in Ayutthaya [ah-YOO-tee-yah], a tuk-tuk driver offered to take me to all of the major historic sites, showing me a hand-written note from a previous customer stating he was a “trustworthy bloke.” I balked at the price and began to walk away, but he called to me to come back and make him a counteroffer. After some negotiating, we had a deal.
Ayutthaya, founded in 1350, is the second former capital city of what is now Thailand. The first was Sukhothai. Ayutthaya was ransacked by invaders from its neighbor to the west, Burma, in 1767. This was the first site the driver brought me to, Wat Yai Chai Mongkol. I could not get over the scale and beauty of these ruins.
When you reach the top of the stairs, these bronze buddhas are waiting for you inside. According to my driver, there are a total of 150 buddhas at this temple.
Next up, Wat Mahathat
This Buddha head enshrined in tree roots is the star attraction. Many a selfie has been taken here.
The head may have come from one of these decapitated Buddhas that were desecrated when Burmese armies pillaged the temple.
This bronze Buddha at Wat Phanan Choeng, still a functioning temple, is almost nineteen meters tall and dates back to 1324. It broke after being struck by lightening and catching fire but has been fully restored.
Right next door, Wat Phra Si Sanphet was perhaps my favorite, or maybe second to the very first place I visited.
I got a real kick out of watching these monks take pictures of each other with their phones and this iPad.
Don’t get any ideas, buddy.
I swear, this is not CGI from some medieval fantasy video game. But Ayutthaya is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In order to be nominated, the site must be of “outstanding universal value” and meet at least one of ten criteria. This site “represents a masterpiece of human creative genius and cultural significance” among several other criteria it meets.
Back to the train station to catch the overnight train to Chiang Mai. But that’s a whole ‘nother story…