Sunday, November 10, 2013

11-9-13 The Old Capital: Ayutthaya

     The next morning, Lindsay and I woke up, ready to head to Thailand’s old capital, Ayutthaya. (The new capital is Bangkok, where Lindsay lives.) For breakfast, we enjoyed a very tasty omelet covered with sweet but spicy sauce and Thai iced tea--I feel like I always have to mention my consumption of that now :D.

Lindsay and the pillow she made for me when I stayed the night haha

The view outside of her window! Very cool :)

     After all that deliciousness, we took a local bus to Victory Monument, met up with Jess, and then headed to Ayutthaya all together on a van. Once there, we were met with a tuk tuk driver named Ae (it sounds like the letter “a” stretched out with an “eee” at the end). For an hour, it would cost 200 baht total for 3 people. For two hours, it would cost 400 baht total. For three hours, which we ended up choosing so we could cover as many attractions as possible, it cost 600 baht total, meaning each of us would just pay 200 baht ($6.67 each for a 3 hour total tour trip)!
     We visited MANY different sites. We actually visited everything else as quick as possible after taking 42 minutes at the first location because we realized we wanted to see more and visit specific sites for longer times. Sometimes, we ran around, snapped a few pictures, and ran back out to our tuk tuk. Now, I’ll just add a bunch of photos and give details. :)

Wat Yai Chai Mang Khon

First, we visited Wat Yai Chai Mang Khon. There are many Buddhas
all over this temple.

Here, I focused on one of them.

We climbed up the wavy stairs to this temple.

Beautiful... one of my favorite places in Thailand so far :)

Can you see Lindsay and me?

There we are!

The stairs were wavy, so we had to hold the walls for support.

Someone putting gold flakes on the Buddha

In the center, there was a deep chute area where people dropped
money or gold flakes. 

A Buddha covered with gold

Looking down: it was a somewhat far climb up and down.

Before we went down though, we walked around the temple
and looked down at our surroundings.

I would have loved to visit this area and just sat there. :)

View from above of the front

Sideways view of the front

As we walked out, we saw this Buddha.

I stepped up to take a picture and then prayed.


Wat Chaiwatthanaram
Lindsay taking pictures in front. We were being super cheap
because every place wanted us to pay some sort of entrance fee. :(

We didn't walk up to it, but just took pictures from the outside of the gates.

Jess standing in front too! Actually, we tried to walk down the path
and then someone started shouting at us to pay, so we just stayed outside.

Side view :) So pretty!

It looks amazing. I LOVE these places. I feel I could just sit
outside and enjoy the peacefulness of it all. :)

Goodbye, beautiful Wat that I wish I could have climbed!


Wat Lokayasutharam

Ooh, a sign!

Reclining Buddha :)

The replica of the Reclining Buddha

Me trying to recline

Close-up of the Buddha's resting head

By the way, this has been one of my favorite places to visit too.
There wasn't much to see in this exact location, but I tend to like the 
stone Buddhas versus the grand golden Buddhas in Bangkok more. 
I just feel like this is more true to the simplicity of Buddhism*...
 In a sense, the lack of golden adornments makes it a little more genuine 
and a lotta bit less focused on riches and grandeur. Because right here, 
in front of us, we have a Buddha that I would argue is the most 
beautiful I've ever seen, despite the paucity of extra decorations. 

Besides, the extras may at first appear beautiful,
but it can sometimes also distract us. It certainly does remind me
that our world indeed runs on materialism and appearances.
In the end, though, do those details really matter?

*And that isn't to say that the golden Buddhas are less, or not 
as great because I still loved visiting them all, but for me, 
this one is just much more appealing to my nature and personality. :)

This structure was behind the Reclining Buddha.

The back view of the Buddha

Ae waiting for us in the back of our tuk tuk haha


As we headed to other attractions, the next 3 being all next to each other,
we passed by an elephant camp. The elephant drivers held little hammers, which
made my friends and I feel bad for the elephants. We refused to do this part of
our trip. I do plan to ride elephants in the future, but at the elephant reserve, where
we can actually bathe the elephants before riding them. That's much more 
fair to these grand animals. :) Plus, we all get free showers... sort of...!

Poor elephants :(

Bye, elephant that's crossing the street! :(

Our tuk tuk parked approximately 30 seconds after we passed the elephants because
we arrived at Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit, which houses one of the biggest
bronze Buddha images in Thailand. (That was somewhere on the internet. I have
no idea if it's actually accurate; sorry. I really do want to learn more about these
places I've visited though. Maybe I'll post about that later on.)

A Buddha carved into the wall

The bronze Buddha

Me taking attention away from the Buddha (oops)

Lindsay and me waiting for Jess to finish taking photos outside

As we left that area, there were elephant bushes. Cute!!! :)

We walked next door to Wat Phra Si Sanphet.

We climbed one of the temple towers. I LOVED this place too!
Picture: Me and Jess

At the top!

Just look at that architecture. SO beautiful :)

Climbing between the towers, we saw these.

Behind the temple towers, there were these areas that looked like they were
secret gardens. Maybe they were little meditation areas.

Walking back out, there was this path of ruins. I don't know
what it was about this path, but I just loved it. :)

On the right side of that path

Ruins, part of a wall

Photobomb! 2 of the 3 towers


Wat Mahathat Yuwaratrangsarit

     Okay, I'm going to admit that my friends and I did a very bad thing. We paid 50 baht for entry to the previous place, Wat Phra Si Sanphet, but we saw other people just entering without paying (and they were foreigners too). We were upset that we chose to do the right thing and it didn't seem to matter, but we still happily counted that as our donation to the temple. This one tried to charge us more and we just couldn't afford it, but we really wanted to see the Buddha in the tree. We ran around, vaulted a wall, and ignored a lady that called out to us. Someone actually stopped to ask me if I was okay because I probably looked really guilty. :( I really am very sorry though. 

The area around the Wat

I would've loved to sit here.

Before we vaulted the walls, we passed Wat Nok.

We timed it to take a picture of us three, but Lindsay's camera
was focused on the first three structures, while mine was focused
on the three in the picture. Oops, Jess was cut out of this one :(

My favorite trees. Not. Just kidding, these were really pretty though. :)

Another pond-lake area

After we entered, I took really random pictures of the ruins.

Loved how the sun hit off this one :)

Buddha in the tree

So no one knows how this happened, but I was reading someone's
blog and they posted this:
"This tree is famous not in and of itself but rather for the Buddha's head that is rather firmly lodged in it's tangled roots. It is told that in 1767 the Burmese attacked and destroyed Ayutthuya. In the process they chopped of the heads of all of the Buddha statues. This particular head must have fallen among the prop roots of a bodhi tree. Over the centuries the roots have grown around the head in such a way that almost seems intentional."
 I have no idea if that is true, but if so, I am very impressed by the meaning of this and how it happened so perfectly.

Me with the Buddha's head

Another Buddha within that temple

Broken Buddha :( but it was such a beautiful spot

Another wall we climbed over... we weren't really taking a picture...
we were actually checking if there was a marsh or barbed wire on the other side.
I took a picture anyway so I could chronicle this.


 Wat Ratcha Burada

     We ran away from the other temple very quickly... but it was probably one of the most beautiful places that day. I keep saying that, but everything was just so majestic but sad. I loved it all, especially imagining how breathtaking it would have been in its prime.

We couldn't enter this because we had to pay. We also only had 15 minutes left to head to the vans that would be taking us home. (Our tour was ending by this time.)

Me, Jess, and Lindsay in the archway as people were telling us to pay lol

I don't understand why the picture is of us and not the architecture LOL

There it is... this is another temple. Too bad we weren't able to explore it just for a few minutes :(

Wow :)

I headed back on a van... this is my reference picture for Rangsit, the stop
I left my van at to take a taxi back to Muang Thong Thani.

The taxi driver, I swear, drove the longest way possible or chose the crowded local roads on purpose. He knows where he's going because he lives in Muang Thong Thani, although in
building P3. Also, whenever I was looking at my phone, he would look over at me. At the end,
he told me what a beautiful teacher I was. CREEPY! >.< Leave me alone and just get me back
home quickly and cheaply!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway, I loved Ayutthaya. I think before I return for Chicago, I will revisit it again. :)

***Oh yeah, 2 funny thoughts***
1. I definitely do not use that hose next to the toilet for its intended purpose. It's there for you to clean your area after using the toilet (just in case you didn't know), but I use it to spray cockroaches and send them down the drain. lol :D

2. Some small black bugs flew into my house tonight through the window screen because it's so hot and my lights are on. My mom, back in Chicago, throws our wash cloth at mosquitoes that enter our house so that they'll die and fall to the ground. I just did that with like 6 bugs. It's actually a really great exercise haha :) and gets rid of pests!

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