OR AYUTTHAYA, THE BIRTHPLACE OF THAILAND.
When this old bird flew in she knew little about this very important place except that it held an extraordinary number of red brick temples of what must have been great beauty in their heyday, and also statues of Buddha’s everywhere. Then I learnt that indeed it was known as Siam and had a lot of grief with the Burmese. So let me just fill you in briefly as it’s history is very complex and further muddied by the Portuguese and Dutch settlers who moved in as trading partners as it evolved.
It emerged in the late 14th century and after another century became a major force in South East Asia. So the dates they have for this are 1350 to 1767. The reign of King Narai (r. 1657 – 1688) was described as “Golden Age” of Siamese culture and was known for historic contact between the Siamese court and the court of King Louis XIV of France. Ayutthaya Kingdom ended in 1767 with Burmese invasion and the city of Ayutthaya, after 417 years of existence, was destroyed. The seat of Siamese authority was moved to Thonburi and later Bangkok. (although referred to by many as ‘Siam’ it also at that point was also known as ‘Tai’). More explanations are futile as it was such a complex development and history, but suffice to say there are many tales of it having a rather draconian legal system. (One Prince had an affair with one of his fathers concubines and was whipped to death for his audacity only for the King to later build him a mausoleum in the complex. Later laws included being trampled to death by elephants for theft)
Anyway, I wandered into this wonderful ghost city (or what remains of it) with my lovely tuk tuk driver and his local knowledge of the more quiet temple areas. When there their historical park holds the nicely condensed gems for a quick visit but outside of that area has other really good stuff to see. Even tho I always go for early doors the heat there attacks from very early in the day, and seeing as the red brick buildings never really lose their absorbed heat overnight, it’s like passing freshly opened kilns as you wander amongst the buildings. The humidity is such that the sweat rivulets between the boobs is unstoppable.
The Main Historical Park and Museum.
You have the museum section in the Historical Park and a restored palace as well as the fading beauty of the various crumbling buildings, but also the famous Buddha in the Tree. All the Buddhas you may take photos of just not with yourself in.
Outside the Busier Historical Park, the Quieter Complexes.
My next couple of days I went to quieter, older complexes. It was a relief because although relatively quiet, you can never really get the feel of a place until you more or less have it to yourself. Then the old imagination can go wild about the people going about their business in Pre-Thai dynastic Siam.
Every day there are more sites to visit for this old bird, from early morning I meet with my mate the tuk tuk driver and off we whiz to more and more remote sites. The best ones really are glorious but the heat never leaves them so by lunchtime my trotters were always scorchio (yes I know birds don’t have trotters but I am a bird piggy) Love the history and the architecture but I always would be literally burnt out. The brick courtyards and paths along with the buildings were remorseless. So boom! Suddenly I would know that it was home time to the lovely swimming pool and icy bedroom.
Portuguese Village and Baan Hollanda
I’ll mention these briefly as they merit a post alone. Going to the little Portuguese church and reading the history of the pioneers there was a poignant affair. Skeletons both within and outside in a little cemetery was intimate. It’s rather abandoned unlike the ‘Baan Hollanda’ which is a very smart affair having a museum and a coffee shop and a boat graveyard.
I also hit Wat Phanan Choeng Worawihan where they have a massive Buddha on the riverfront but again I’ll just leave you with pics!
As each day passed I formed a dream routine studiously ignoring the fact that I really would have to face going home to London. I dug up more and more places I could visit and scraped the barrel so after extending my stay there I had to finally admit that I only had two more places on my list, they were more off the normal tourist trail and would be calming and final.