Ancient Ruins of Ayutthaya

This past weekend we had a couple extra days off for a Thai Buddhist holiday.  Given our long weekend we decided to head down south.  We took an overnight bus from Lampang to Ayutthaya (the old capital of Thailand filled with many ancient ruins).  We were planning on getting dropped off at the Ayutthaya bus station.  Apparently, the Thai idea of dropping someone off at a bus station may actually mean dropping them off on the side of the road -across a highway- from the bus station.  Additionally, if one asks the bus driver if this side of the road stop is in fact the Ayutthaya stop, said bus driver can respond by saying something entirely in Thai- with no mention of the word ‘Ayutthaya’, ‘chai’ (yes), or ‘mai’ (no).  We missed our stop and finally confirmed the mistake when we exited the bus, stopped an at the information desk to ask the clerk where we were on our Lonely Planet map.   He looked at the map, turned it once, looked some more, turned it again, and looked some more.  “Ayutthaya bus station?” I ask.      


“No, Bangkok.” We overshot our destination by 2 hours.

Some three hours later we finally reached our destination.  Exhausted.  Our reserved room had been rented out.   Another one would be available in ‘ten minutes’.  The new room available would cost double they told us, because it would have air-con; a luxury we had decided to go without.  Nonetheless, they said it woud be ready in ten minutes, and we needed a place to rest our head.  An hour later our room still wasn’t ready.  “Ten minutes,” they lady said again.  Followed by “watch a movie.” Hmmmm…


After we got settled into our room we bucked up, slammed some iced coffee, rented a motorbike, and hit the town. We had three city maps with us: one provided by the Lonely Planet book, one from the guesthouse, and one from the motorbike shop.  Funniest thing though, none of them looked the same.  Lonely Planet had the most legible one, the guesthouse one had the most streets, and the motorbike shop one had the most ruins.  The latter two were very poor photocopies and mostly in Thai, so we tried to combine everything onto the Lonely Planet one.  Unfortunately, that one sort of ‘blew away’ and needless to say we got utterly turned around. 

One of the roads we were driving on was being blocked off my policemen.  A police officer was standing on the non-shoulder side of the road and waving for Vince to pull over to the shoulder.  Oddly enough, their gesture for ‘pull over’ looks sort of like ‘come over here’. Vince nearly ran the officer down, dodged him at the last minute, and then continued to drive on past.  I thought for sure there would be police sirens chasing us.  There weren’t. In retrospect I’m sure they just looked at us and thought, “stupid farangs”.


That evening we met up with two teacher/friends who live in the area.  We spent the night laughing over cheap beer and crazy classroom stories.  The next morning we got some breakfast, Thai rice soup.  We managed to explain to the cooks that we didn’t want any blood in our soup.  Unfortunately, we didn’t realize it might be full of intestine. 


Way to go, Vince, intestines on a hangover.  Was it as good as Mac’n’Cheese?

After breakfast we rented bicycles and biked around the old town area.  It was over 100 degrees once you weighed in humidity, and bottles of water were easily our most costly item of the day.  The ruins were from the 14th century and what was left of them was stunning.  Burmese warriors attacked and destroyed Ayutthaya in the 1700’s.  At that time they decapitated all of the heads from the sitting Buddha statues.  Now I know what you’re thinking… you would want to take a picture with your head in place of the Buddha’s head.  Don’t even think about it.  Check out the second picture in on the top row of this sign:  





Also, as I’m sure you all know Asians have a difficult time pronouncing R’s and often replace them with the letter L.  Something is wrong with this sign.. Can you figure it out??







In all seriousness, we had a very good time in Ayutthaya.  Many incredibly old and wonderful things to look at.


I think my favorite site was actually a tree found in one of the ancient wats.  Enshrouded in the roots is one of the decapitated Buddha heads.   It blends right into the tree.  If I didn’t know better I would think the tree actually grew this face itself.  Beautiful.



~ by The Piersas on July 23, 2008.

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