Thursday, July 25, 2013

DIY Tour of Ayutthaya Ruins in Thailand

Two months ago, I was sent by my company to assist Thai Country Club, just a week after I arrived from Hong Kong on business. I decided to come a day earlier, so that I can finally see the Ayutthaya Ruins, which I failed to see during my two visits in Bangkok a few years ago.

From Hualamphong station in Bangkok, I took the northbound train to catch the 8:00 am trip. Though slightly uncomfortable, I chose the 3rd class car with THB 20 fare just to try the locals' practice, and for adventure. 

The 3rd class seats have no cushion and no air conditioning. The train car has a common toilet, but it has no elevated toilet bowl typically found on western toilet. The views are nice, especially with golden temples, ricefields, and golf courses, after leaving the city. Below are some photos of the train and the stations that we passed.

Arriving at the Ayutthaya train station, many tuktuk drivers offered their services, usually starting at THB 600 for 3 hours of tour. Being a cheapskate, I crossed the road to go to the river, intending to ride the boat then rent a bicycle. Unfortunately, there was a muay thai boxing match that time, and there is no boat driver on duty. 

While having cold drink to fight the summer heat, the lady owner of a hostel/restaurant in the area offered to drive me on her Toyota Innova at THB 600 for 2 hours. I would have taken it, if the family of 3 Europeans agreed to join me. Then I decided to have an early lunch of pad thai, on a food stall under a tree.

The pad thai are freshly cooked on small batches. I paid THB 40 for 1 order.

Back at the train station, I waited for other tourists who would like to share the tuktuk rental with me. A driver lowered his tuktuk rental to THB 400, but I declined it. It took about an hour before I finally met an Indonesian-Chinese father and son team, who allowed me to join them on their tour. Below is our tuktuk ride for 4 hours of tour, for THB 600.

Our first destination is Wat Yai Chaimongkhon, with entrance fee of THB 20 each.

There is a giant leaning Buddha on the left side of the entrance. The good thing about joining other tourists on a solo tour is meeting new friends and someone to take my photos, hehe.

A temple with Buddhist deities are situated on the back, where people offer their prayers and paste the golden papers.

This is a monastery with previous name of Wat Pakaew, built by King U-Thong in 1900 B.E. In 2135 B.E., King Naresuan repulsed the army of Phra Maha Uparacha of Burma, then constructed the large chedi below. The monastery was renamed as Wat Yai Chamongkhon.

Its the largest chedi or stupa I've seen so far. I climbed the stairs to get inside where people are offering their prayers. Looking below the stupa, I saw the other features of the monastery's compound.

There are many Buddha statues here, perhaps numbering more than a hundred.

Next destination is Wat Maha That. Its a royal monastery completed in 1374 under the reign of King Ramesuan. Entrance fee is THB 50.

The place is in ruins after some portions have collapsed, and some were destroyed during their war with Burma in 1767.

During its heyday, the place has complete and well-organized temples.

This is where the dropped head of Buddha can be found, covered and protected by the branches of banyan tree. In observance of Buddhist religion, visitors taking their photo have to keep their head lower than the Buddha figure, as a form of respect.

Our third stop is Wat Ratcha Burana, which is just a across the road from Wat Maha That. Its a small place with a single prang, which is being restored during our short visit. No entrance fee here.

Fourth destination on our tour is Wat Lokayasutha, where I met 4 Filipinas also having their tour. This is the site of the biggest leaning Buddha in the area. Another free tourist site.

The place is almost flat, as most structures were destroyed.

Our last destination is Wat Chaiwatthanaram. According to my younger Indonesian companion, the chedis and prang on the area has Khmer style, similar with those from Cambodia. This was closed during the flooding, as the structures might collapse due to weak foundation.

We did not enter the monastery's compound, as we were already templed out, saving THB 50 as well. Its already past 5 pm, and we can see the features from the fence anyway.

Here's our group photo on the last site.

Our tuktuk driver who migrated here from Malaysia.

Then we took the air conditioned bus bound to Bangkok. The fare is THB 50 up to the Mo Chit bus station, where we shared a short taxi ride to Chatuchak Market.

Next year when I'm back in Thailand, my wife and I will visit Chiang Mai along with Myanmar and Siem Reap, for another temple tour. :) 
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  1. This is a great help as i am planning also a diy tour with my family.