Vietnam 2009 Travelogue

20 October 2009 – day 4 – Tuesday - Ayuthaya, Thailand

Another busy day, as usual. Last night after dinner, we tried to decide what to do today. I wanted to go back to Ayuthaya, a city about one hour North of Bangkok. We visited the city when we were here in 1997 and I remembered fondly these big ancient ruined Buddhist temples.

The problem was, it was late in the day and we hadn't arranged a tour. Most tours pick you up at the hotel early in the morning, but it was too late to call for arrangements. We searched and searched on the Internet for tour companies that gave day-tours of Ayuthaya from Bangkok, and we called several, but of course they were all closed. Finally, we went to bed discouraged and decided to try again in the morning.

So I set our alarm clock for 6:00 in the morning: I used my iPhone's alarm app, but I didn't set it properly. Nonetheless, I woke up precisely at 6:00 and was anxious to start the day. Cruising the Internet on my laptop and the hotel's wifi network, I managed to find a wiki about the city of Ayuthaya and it contained recommendations for a couple of good tour companies that gave day-tours. I called one and they were very happy for the business. They arranged to pick us up at our hotel at 8:45, after breakfast.

Kathy had been worried last night that we wouldn't have anything fun to do today. I keep telling her: Trust in the Universe and it will work out!

After breakfast, a hotel worker in the lobby said he thought someone was looking for us. Without too much trouble, we found our guide. He took us to his Isuzu minivan and he and his driver drove us to Ayuthaya. During the drive, he entertained us with different stories and conversation about Thailand and the Thai people. It was very interesting.

Once in the city, our first stop was Bang Pa-In Palace, which was like a beautiful summer palace for the king.

It was a large complex with waterways. The guide told us that the king and workers often took boats to the palace from Bangkok. The palace was beautiful with several buildings, surrounded by waterways that had fish and large turtles inside.

Pretty flowers decorated the grounds.

Military guards watched over the grounds, as they had at the palace in Bangkok yesterday.

In one area, the shrubs were cut to look like various animals. We saw a cute set of bushes that looked like rabbits and another set that looked like a troupe of elephants.

At one end of the grounds was a tall spire that Kathy and I decided to climb. The view was beautiful, but once again, we were very hot and tired.

Our second stop was the Wihara Phra Mongkol Bophit temple

where we saw another gigantic golden-colored statue of the Buddha. This one wasn't reclined, he was sitting.

The temple did not allow shorts, especially for women, so Kathy had to use a borrowed skirt. Kathy in a skirt is a very rare sight!

Next we went to the ruined temple complex that I remembered from our previous visit twelve years ago. It was very cool. Because of the harsh lighting conditions, Kathy and I started playing with automatic exposure bracketing, or AEB, on our cameras. It took some time to figure it out, but we finally got used to it. And we took lots of photos.

Then we went to another ruined temple called Wat Maha That. I've always been fascinated by religious ruins from all cultures.

Off in the distance, we saw another jeddi, which is a structure designed to hold the ashes of a king, kind of like a pyramid. We asked our guide and he said he could take us there after our boat ride.

Our guide took us next to a small boat where we got a tour of the area.

The entire city of Ayuthuaya is surrounded by a river that acted as a moat in ancient times. The boat ride was fun because we got to see the common people going about their day-to-day lives.

It lasted more than an hour, I think, because it circumnavigated the entire city.

Next stop was lunch, and after lunch we went to the temple we had seen in the distance. It was called Wat Ratchaburana, and it was also very cool. We took lots of photos.

That was our last stop, so we drove back to Bangkok and they dropped us off at our hotel. A very satisfying day.