31.03.2013 - 02.04.2013
Ayutthaya was the capital of Siam between the years of 1350 & 1767. By 1700 Ayutthaya had become the largest city in the world with a total of 1 million inhabitants. At one point the kingdom spanned a greater area then England and France combined. All this came to a quick end when the Burmese invaded Ayutthaya in 1767 and almost completely burnt the city down to the ground. Now a Unesco World Heritage Site, Ayutthaya was our second stop in Thailand.
Far from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok's city roads, Ayutthaya, or the "City of Gorgeousness", was somewhat more relaxing. That is, until the scooters were involved! We stayed on the island at a guest house called "Tony's Place" (yes, we went from Wendy House to Tony's Place, awesome I know) and our main goal was to see temples, ride scooters and explore what we could in a short amount of time. Sean had a great time exploring with scooters on previous trips to Thailand and was excited to share this experience with us.
However, it did not turn out the way we had planned! The streets were busier than Sean had remembered and our friend Kim got stuck behind a tuk-tuk, was a little too scared to pass because she had only been driving the scooter for 30 seconds and we ended up losing her! We had to pull over, wait for her to catch up and eventually, I ended up on a scooter by myself (a little scary when you have never rode a scooter before in your life). For the longest time, I couldn't figure out how to turn right! I would try and turn, but the scooter just went straight, and I ended up awfully close to some ditches (I know you're proud dad!). No one crashed though, and we were all able to maintain some control of driving and made it to 3 amazing temples that first night.
These temples are truly amazing. The feeling you get when you step on stones that were laid by people hundreds of years ago, and to imagine how they lived, see what they saw and walk in their places of worship, is truly an experience of a lifetime. After climbing some very steep stairs at the first temple and getting an amazing birds eye view of the old city, we scooted to the next temple (yes, I had to turn right, and no, I didn't crash!) where our goal was to find this tree that supposedly has a Buddha head jetting out from its trunk. Of course knowing us, we went to the complete opposite end from where the face was. But on the plus side, we were able to see the entire temple grounds and saved finding Buddha till the very end. It was breathtaking to see all of the leaning/crumbling temples mixed in with the setting sun and all of the overgrown trees. Once we took a picture with Buddha's face, we made our way to the last temple of the night. This one was completely different. This temple had been basically demolished. There were only a few small Buddha structures remaining and the temple floor. However, at the head of the temple was this reclining Buddha. It was just massive, laying on it's side, draped from head to toe in a beautiful golden sash. It was quite stunning with the setting sun shining down on it. And this was only the beginning of my love for temples!
We decided the next day that maybe scooters were not the way to go, especially because we would be traveling off the island to see some new temples. Instead, we rented a tuk-tuk for the day. It ends up being quite a reasonable price when there's 5 of you! We ended up seeing 3 more temples and a floating market. All of the things we saw that day were outstanding, however I do have to say, this one temple, Wat Ya Chai Mongkhon will be in my mind forever. It has stuck with me so much that if I am ever in Thailand again, I will be back to visit this one. It honestly took my breath away. Tranquility washed over me the moment I stepped foot onto the temple grounds. It was probably the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced. This temple was huge. In order to make it to the top, there were many many steep steps that opened up into this area where people could pray and buy gold flakes to put onto the Buddha statues inside. Along the outside of the main temple were rows upon rows of Buddha statues, each one slightly different from the one before. These magnificent statues also had beautiful golden sashes flowing in the wind. I had a moment where I literally shed a tear because I was so overcome with emotion; it was amazing. I'm pretty sure Sean liked this one too....haha!
After 2 solid days of temple hopping, we had some well deserved street food and Chang, the beer of choice over here. For 50 TBH, or $1.50 CND, how could you say no?
NEXT STOP CHIANG MAI