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Ayuthaya

Country:
Thailand
Dates:
Saturday June 26th, 1999 to Sunday June 27th, 1999
Author:
noah
Looking down on a temple, Ayuthaya, Thailand

Ayuthaya was the Siamese royal capital from 1350 until 1767. The name translates from Sanskrit roughly as "undefeatable," and the town figures prominently the Indian epic Ramayana. According to the Lonely Planet Ayuthaya during its heyday was, by all accounts, a splendid city which was courted by Dutch, Portuguese, French, English, Chinese and Japanese merchants . . . by the end of the 17th century, Ayuthaya's population had reached one million and virtually all visiting foreigners claimed it to be the most illustrious city they had ever seen.

The new town of Ayuthaya, which has sprung up in and around the ruins of the ancient city, is not the most illustrious city we have ever seen. The town is located about 100km north of Bangkok; we headed up on a Saturday afternoon (a third class train ticket set us back the equivalent of about US$0.40 each), and spent the night in a quiet, clean, cheap little hotel with a nice garden. The next day we walked around the town (though we should have rented bikes) looking at ruins. The town is interestingly set up in that the ruins, world-famous relics of a centuries-past dynasty, are literally scattered throughout a modern town. As you walk down the street, you might pass a restaurant, then a hair salon, then a 600 year old temple, then a pet shop, then a 400 year old palace. Some of the larger sites are fenced off (sometimes with a booth charging an admission fee for farangs(?), but not for Thais), but the smaller ones are not.

An arial view in Ayuthaya, Thailand

Toward dusk, as we were preparing to head back to the train station and home to Bangkok, Hannah decided that she really wanted a picture of a large temple complex that we were in the process of leaving. Unfortunately, just any old picture would not do; this picture had to be perfect, and hence had to be void of tourists. We sat for about a half hour in the place from which Hannah had chosen to shoot her masterpiece, waiting for a bunch of farangs to come down off the monument. They eventually did, but by then it was too dark to get a picture. Our consolation was that, in waiting for them to come down, we had the opportunity to watch an enormous number (literally 1000s) of bats fly out of one of the towers: they came out in a steady cloud for upwards of 20min. I would not want to be a mosquito in Ayuthaya.

More information about Thailand is available on the About Thailand page; you might want to have a look at it if you haven't already.

You might wish to look at the Ayuthaya photos in the photo album.

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