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That Time We Didn’t Ride Bikes in Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya is the color and sentiment of autumn. Leaves shed by unexpectedly deciduous trees crunched underfoot as we wandered into the historical park of rust-colored 14th-century ruins. Ayutthaya is one of the former capitals of The Kingdom of Siam (what is now Thailand) and boasts a remarkable collection of very old Buddhist temples. They rest in various states of disrepair, unlabeled and unprotected by barriers or glass, just begging to be photographed (photo cred for this post goes to coworker and friend, Jessica Z by the way!.)

Wat Phra Si Sanphet, the temple with three stupas in Ayutthaya
Wat Phra Si Sanphet, the temple with three stupas

We wandered, excited by the almost-comical way modern life had simply been built around the ruins (the irony of a stupa-shaped cellphone tower rising from behind the ancient thing itself, for example). There were few if any signs indicating the names or histories of any of the sites, leaving mostly everything up to our imaginations.

Posing on walls in Ayutthaya
Imagining ourselves as Victorian-era gangster vampires. Or something like that.
Posing in stupas in Ayutthaya
Stupa sittin’ while sorta kinda regretting dropping my Intro to Art History class.

To the satisfaction of the historian within me (she rarely makes an appearance), I was able to gather some context from my guide book: Ayutthaya was established as the capital of Siam in 1350 and flourished as a major diplomatic and trade center until it was sacked by the Burmese in 1767. The Siamese temples still standing today were erected in the 13- and 1400’s, not the 1700’s as I had previously assumed. Damn, they look good for being that old! They must have done a good deal of restoration on the park, being that it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and all, but everything was still decrepit enough to sustain my nostalgic seasonal reverie.

Before I take this autumn metaphor any further, you should know it was a humid 95-degrees (F) most of the day. We were all suffering near-heat strokes by the end of our jaunt through the crumbly stupas.

Eating taro ice cream in Ayutthaya
Cooling down with some seriously melty taro ice cream. What did I tell you about me and un-graceful eating for the camera?

Many visitors like to rent bicycles to traverse the park grounds, but since I don’t know how to ride a bicycle (hold your incredulity), we took in the park by foot. I couldn’t be happier because I feel like we got to see things slower, if not sweatier.

At dusk, we hopped a boat that took us to the temples along the river encircling the “island.” Here we could really dig in to the peace and quiet melancholy of what-felt-like seasonal transition, as we sat amongst the temples in the relatively cool twilight haze.

I don’t know why it took me so long to get myself up to Ayutthaya. It’s only about 2 hours away from Bangkok and man oh man is it worth it.

The three of us, exhausted but so so happy in Ayutthaya
The three of us, Molly, Jess, and me, exhausted but so so happy.

6 comments

  1. Ken C. says:

    What remarkable [and ancient?] ruins. And, it appears that you had them all to yourselves most of the time. Certainly worth the trip from Bangkok.

    • mishvo says:

      Hi Ken! Thanks for the comment! I really enjoyed the trip…Ayutthaya was peaceful and it was nice to get out of the city for a second. As far as having the place to ourselves: not completely but it definitely wasn’t crowded. Highly recommend a trip out there!

  2. KimVo says:

    Are you eating that ice cream with a toothpick? That could be the title of my new diet book. “Eat all You Want, As Long As You Eat It From A Toothpick.”

    Love that the cellphone towers are “stupa-shaped.” How ironic, sort of.

    Counting down the days till we get to Thailand and see you!

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