Friday, March 18, 2016

AYUTTHAYA DISCOVERY



We had an extra day in Bangkok before a buying trip in Northern Thailand so we booked a private tour to the ancient Thai capital of Ayuttaya. I've been to Bangkok at least 27 times, but never visited Ayutthaya. The image shows the "Lake Pavilion" at Bang Pa, the King's Summer Palace. Info on how I book tours at the end of this blog.


In 1889 the Chinese Chamber of Commerce built the  "Chinese Residence" for the King at the Summer Palace. Today's King Bhumibol rarely visits this Summer Palace.


Founded in 1350 Ayutthaya was a former capital of Siam. It was thought to be the largest city in the world in 1700 with 1,000,000 people.  Nearby rival Burma invaded and burnt down the city in the 18th century. This beautiful & serene reclining Buddha is at the Wat Yai Chai Mongkol.


Our guide picked us up at 7am in Bangkok so we would miss most of the tour buses. We found ourselves at most of the sights with only Thai visitors which was great!



After climbing steep steps of a stupa we had a wonderful view of the Buddha sculptures below.


This is the back side of Wat Yai Chai Mongkol. Acolyte sculptures are praying in reverence to Buddha.


The Chedis of Wat Phra Si Sanphet stand as a reminder of a glorious world of long ago. 





Visitors to Buddhist temples especially in Thailand & Burma put small pieces of gold leaf on Buddha statues as an offering. Some place the gold at a part of the statue where they have pain. The paper strips on the left are prayers and requests to Buddha. 


The giant reclining Buddha at Wat Lokaya Sutha is quite majestic. The man on the left is arranging numerous hard boiled eggs as a tribute to Buddha because a special personal request was answered. 


The large prang (Similar to a stupa or chedi but different in shape.) on the left at Wat Yai Chai Mongkol.


We absolutely recommend Ayutthaya. There is a big reason it is a World Heritage Site!


While awaiting to board the "Grand Pearl" for a luncheon cruise back to Bangkok on the Chao Phraya we visited a nearby temple. Luckily we were able to watch a novitiate ceremony for a monk under the blue umbrella. It was a joyous occasion with music and dancing by family & friends. The group circles the temple three times before entering.

***Click on this video link for the sights and sounds of the ceremony:




You can see some water hyacinth floating near our boat at the dock. They grow like crazy and are very hard to eradicate. Thai ingenuity re-purposes water hyacinth and uses the dried fibers for woven furniture and baskets. The luncheon cruise down the amazing Chao Phraya river is really fun! We loved seeing all the boat activity and construction on the river.

Wat Arun, or the "Temple of Dawn", is undergoing major refurbishing. It is the most famous landmark on the river and one of over 31,000 Buddhist temples in Bangkok. On our very first trip to Bangkok Marla had a personal epiphany in the temple which was a very transformative experience she will never forget!
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***I am not a big fan of group travel and prefer the adventure of researching my own itineraries and sometimes hiring local private guides and drivers for day tours. The private guides we have hired throughout the world have been expert at avoiding crowds and tailoring a trip to our wants and needs. 
I booked our Ayutthaya tour with "Viator" online in the U.S. before departure. Our private expert guide and driver cost $280 for 2 persons and included the Summer Palace, exploration of Ayutthaya, the "Grand Pearl" luncheon cruise and all transport. We were extremely pleased with the special service and attention!

P.S.Marla and I been hosts in the past for three trips to Thailand with groups of Wesco Fabrics' clients.

IMAGES: Dick Gentry

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