Monday, 13 September 2010


Saturday 4th September: An island at the confluence of three rivers, Ayutthaya was the royal capital for nearly 400 years, 1348 to 1767, and is now a World Heritage Site. Hiring a cycle for three days this time, I'm off again - map in hand. Northeast, off the island, to the Golden Monument of Wat Phu Khao Thong and it's little golden shrine. Adjacent is King Naresuan's statue, guarded by colourful fighting cocks.
Sunday 5th: Southwest on the island is modern Wat Suuan Dararam with a fine Buddha and frescos depicting scenes from King Naresuan's life. Then from Fort Pom Phet it's onto Wat Maha That, famous for it's Buddha head strangled in tree roots. Next door is the less ruined Khmer-style tower or prang of Wat Ratcha Burana. Off the island is the well-kept Wat Na Phra Men with a wealth of offerings stacked outside. Back on the island Wat Thummikarat's chedi has guardian lions around it and a Buddha head set in a lotus flower. Wat Phra Si Sanpeth is Ayutthaya's largest with three giant chedi in a row. I'm not far from the elephant camp and giggling Thai girls pose for photographs on top of these great beasts, saved and put to work carrying tourists around the phallic Wat Phra Ram.
After lunch, southeast of the island, I get caught in a downpour but Wat Chai Watthanaram's impressive prang looks great in the rain. Then it's further out of the city to Wat Putthaisawan - not even mentioned in my guide book, this one's my favourite - it has everything - large prang, Buddha gallery, several chedis, an exquisite orange-robed reclining Buddha and even a musician playing sweet music at the entrance. I return via St Joseph's Church, a Portuguese relic as old as Ayutthaya.
Monday 6th: Today I'm cycling off the island, first southeast to Wat Yai Chai Mongkol with a reclining Buddha, many sitting Buddhas and a chedi, all draped in orange. Then I head northeast to leafy Wat Maheyong and Wat Chang where elephants carry passengers over flooded fields. Cycling back, Phra Chedi Sri Suriyothai gleams across the river in Ayutthaya, but the day is not over yet . . . not by a measure.
Until you have seen elephants bonking, you haven't lived, it's extraordinary - the bulls huge maneuverable appendages feel for their target (and I don't mean their trunks!). Surprisingly it's over in just a few seconds. The female seems to enjoy it though and takes two big slimy bulls in as many minutes. What a great day.
Tuesday 7th: I cycle out to the Elephant Kraal and in the evening end my stay in Ayuttaya with a dinner, of crispy pork over rice, at the night market, and a few beers.
Photos of Ayutthaya.

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