A Bit of T-L-C - Part 3 Wats Going On Here Then??

Ayutthaya, Thailand November 2023

Arriving in Ayutthaya you might be forgiven to thinking you’d taken a wrong turn and landed in the middle of the Angkor Wat complex in Cambodia. Set on an island, this former capital of Siam was brutally conquered by the Burmese in the 1700s, but the remains of this once grand and cosmopolitan city give an insight into its former glory.

Rocket to the moon

Although not as large as the Cambodian site, the 500-year-old Khmer style ruins had been impressively restored and were easy to walk around, mostly set in the “historical park”.  Conveniently we were staying a few blocks away in a homestay, run by the friendly, but incredibly “chatty” Mr Vann and his wife Nancy, who proceeded to give us the lowdown on the sights.  Finally managing to extricate ourselves we set off to explore the town at night.

Wat it used to look like

After dining at the best (and only) Indian Punjabi restaurant in town, we wandered around the night market, pleasantly lit with lanterns but unpleasantly extremely crowded.  I had to admit that the temples (or “wats” as the Buddhists call them) were stunning, lit up against the night sky.

The classic shot

After a quick trip back to the guesthouse for my long trousers the next morning, having forgotten my “temple protocol”, we started our tour.  The largest temple complex was the Wat Rachaburana, where we climbed (more steps…) to reach the “prang” (a Khmer-style spire) inhabited by a few bats and where you could just about make out faint murals.  The vault of this wat was looted (with the help of a corrupt policeman!) in 1957 so many of the artifacts were never recovered – however the policeman’s ball was sensational that year!  Many were, however, and are on display in the Chao Sam Phraya Museum which we planned to visit later.   Wandering around the main temples was awe inspiring – some were huge, towering some over 100ft tall.  Some were used to house giant buddhas which were covered in gold.  They must have been a sight to behold!

I must get my roots done…

Dismayed to see elephant rides still being offered around the temples – there were certainly many alternative forms of transport available.  Many tourists hired cycles or scooters to ride around the park, but as usual, we had a hard time convincing the tuk tuk drivers, that actually, we preferred to walk!

Elephant crossing?

Clocking up the miles the next day, we tried to visit the museum, only to discover it was closed on Mondays.  Next to find the Old Royal Palace, which again, was under renovation!  Taking the hint, we found an interesting restaurant to retire to for lunch before our afternoon boat trip (which luckily, was still on!).

Big buddha

It was a relief to be out of the sun and on the water with a hint of a breeze, and we stopped at a few slightly different temples situated along the riverbank: Wat Phanan Choeng, still an active monastery, with its enormous 19 meter high buddha, Wat Phutthai Sawan with its serene looking reclining buddha and extremely large cocks (apparently signifying good fortune and wealth)!. And finally to see the sun set over the Wat Chai Wattnaram (joined by hundreds of Thais, many dressed in traditional costume for that perfect Instagram shot!).

Costume party

The museum was open the next day and contained an interesting collection of gold relics recovered from the wats, although the captions accompanying them could have been better.  I always wonder why they never seem to get an English speaker to proof read these signs before getting them printed!

Temple spoils

We had enjoyed our stay in Ayutthaya, but were feeling “somewat” templed-out.

Next stop:  Back to Nature…

More photos…

Losing their heads?
The temple guardian
Good job I didn't have an itch!
Captions on a postcard...
Around the walls
My new favourite breakfast pick-me-up - Orange expresso
I was tempted!
I've just washed my hair, and can't do a thing with it!
A quick dip
Those "fo" dogs are vicious
Deck the halls
One never tires of spires
Blingy Buddha
Sleepy buddha
Many...many buddha
This one needs no caption!
"Not another selfie..."
Too cute
The Giant Horseshoe Band
As the sun goes down...
Snakes and ladders
Wats black and white...?
I know where to go for my next ball gown

3 thoughts on “A Bit of T L C – Part 3 – Wats Going On Here Then?”

  1. As you say… so like Angkor Wat . Fascinating travel blogs as ever Kathy. Sorry to hear though elephants are still being used to give rides 😢. X

  2. The Buddhas get bigger and bigger! ..and the temples seem get more and more! We eventually got all ‘templed out’. Certainly some sights to behold.

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