April 22, 2007

Ayuthaya: a photo essay

The old capital city of Ayutthaya was founded by King Ramathibodi I in 1350 and was the seat of power until it's complete and total destruction by the Burmese army in 1767, which prompted the king to relocate his court to Bangkok. But at one time there were 3 royal palaces, 375 temples and 29 forts in Ayutthaya alone. The present site with it's khmer-style prangs, Thai chedis and decapitated or beheaded buddha images was declared a historical park and UNESCO World Heritage Site, and for good reason. The ruins still speak of the old city's splendor and I felt both humbled and thrilled before it.

Buddha head in the roots of an overgrown fig tree

Wat Phra Mahathat

Wat Phra Si Sanphet; the Royal Temple of the kingdom of Ayutthaya

The three main stupas contain the ashes of three kings. Important royal ceremonies occured here like swearing allegiance and it also served as the royal family's private chapel.

Wat Mongkhon Bophit which houses a 17 meter high bronze cast sitting buddha

At the Elephant Camp; isn't she just adorable?!

Our view from atop an elephant

My friend J who rode with me was so freaked out she didn't let go of my arm during the 15 minute ride around the park. I, on the other hand, was laughing at the way we were rocking back and forth, reminding us of the way our friend drives. This was super fun!

My heart skipped a beat when I saw this impressive reclining buddha at Wat Lokaya Sutharam.

At the bow of the Golden Pearl with Bangkok in the distance
We opted to return to Bangkok via a leisurely (air-conditioned!) cruise which included a buffet lunch. The 3 hour cruise gave us some much-needed downtime which we took advantage of by just chatting over coffee and tea, strolling on the deck, and taking power naps on the couch.

Chao Phraya River scenes
That's the Grand Palace on the bottom left picture

We treated ourselves to a traditional full body massage using ancient Thai techniques at the Health Land Spa (above). Those were two of the most blissful hours in my life. I came out of there feeling reborn, seriously! Undoubtedly the best massage I've ever had.And that's coming from someone who indulges in massages at least once a month. If you find yourself in Thailand, do yourself a favor and treat yourself to a traditional Thai massage. If you are squirmy about a strangers hands on your body (you don't disrobe for a Thai massage, by the way), then have a foot massage instead.


Anonymous said...

Wow, beautiful! Your pictures are fantastic.

christine said...

Thank you! :) It's easy to take nice pictures when your subject is beautiful.

joey said...

I love the first picture of the buddha's head sticking out of the roots! Great shot Nens! :) I also like the huge reclining buddha...impressive! It's cool how they have "real" clothes ;)

christine said...

Jo, yes it is no? I have a funny story to share about that. Only two of us went down from the minivan to check that reclining buddha out and take pictures. When we got back on, two of them asked, "Why is it covered? Sayang naman"; " Is it being renovated that's why it's draped with that cloth?" Heehee We all had such a good laugh out of that!

vina said...

wonderful bangkok/thailand pictures christine! i'm back there all over again :)

christine said...

Thanks, Vina! :) You have some great ones too!

princess_dyanie said...

heya christine ! just read ur post regarding thailand! amzing pics! ;) naalala ko tuloy bigla ang thailand since kakapunta ko lang dun last oct31.

adventure ang tuktuk noh? bilis nila mag drive! hehe! kaso laki nila ang mag ask ng fare kaya dapat i negotiate mo ng maayos hehehe ;)

christine said...

Adventure talaga ang tuktuk! haha Especially when they insist on taking you to the wrong restaurant! Pero tama ka, kelangan marunong ka magtaward or lugi ka with the fare. :)