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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Bangkok : The Trip that Started it All (Part 2)


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Visiting Ayutthaya was the highlight of my trip to Thailand. Visiting the temples and the ruins of this ancient capital fueled my love for travel and photography. The kind of push that made traveling and travel photography one of my top priorities. The kind that made me seriously save up for a DSLR and more trips in my own country and a few more countries in Asia.

Ayutthaya is the ancient capital of Thailand from 1350-1767. It was once the most powerful kingdom/city in mainland Southeast Asia. It was famous for its various grand palaces, temples, shrines, and other sacred sites, until the Burmese invasion in 1767 where most of the sites were destroyed. Ayutthaya today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a popular travel destination outside Bangkok.

From Bangkok, you can take the train/bus/van to go to the city. There are a lot of temples in the area, entrance fees cost around 20 baht to 50 baht, some are also free.

Wat Yai Chaimongkon

This site is famous for the reclining Buddha. It is also famous for its courtyard lined with a series of saffron-wearing Buddha images.

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Viharn Phra Mongkol Bopit

It is an impressive building outside, inside is a large bronze cast Buddha.

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Wat Phra Si Sanphet

The largest and grandest temple in Ayutthaya and is famous for its distinctive row of restored chedis (Thai-style stupas).

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Wat Phra Mahathat

This is my favorite out of all the sites we visited that day. It emanates a very peaceful atmosphere and it's as if you’re stepping into another time. It’s a vast complex of temple platforms chipped off on the sides, evidence of the Burmese invasion that caused the collapse of once a magnificent kingdom.

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I guess the number of headless Buddhas speak of the destruction caused by the invasion.

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But the famous photo for this sacred site is the Buddha head entwined in the roots of a tree.

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I fell in love with this place and with the ruins. Ayutthaya made me want to go to more UNESCO World Heritage sites and visit more temples. Two years after this trip, I found myself in Angkor Wat waiting for the sunrise.

This free, accidental trip to Thailand started it all. And I think it is very timely that I reminisce these wonderful memories of my very first out-of-the-country trip, because almost six weeks from now I'm going on another one. :)