Ayuthaya and Sukhothai

I know I havn’t posted in quite a few days. So for all my worried mothers out there—I’m fine, though I was a bit sick this last week and so have been laying low. Also, I’m in Eastern Laos, Land of No Internet. Or at least, Land of the Internet Cafes that Close At Random Times To Annoy Tourists.

But anyway, before Laos I spent a little over a week in Thailand, traveling northwards. My initial impression of Thailand after coming from Vietnam and Cambodia was that it actually seems to have traffic laws (that people obey), and like stoplights and multi-lane highways and stuff! Plus everyone wears yellow. The king’s 80th birthday is coming up next month, so everyone’s wearing yellow in support. I guess in the five days preceding the big day the whole country will be wearing yellow constantly.

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You can see the lucky birthday boy there in one of his many, many public portraits. They’ve got pictures of the king everywhere. On arches, at intersections, projected on buildings. Always surrounded by golden fanciness. And he never looks a day past 40.

The other general thing about Thailand one notices is that they like them some big buddhas. I mean really really big buddhas:

Taylor and a Big Buddha

It’s hard to tell from my awesome self-portrait, but that buddha was probably as long as a football field.

Anyway, I first spent a day in Bangkok, but in the interest of getting caught up, and since I’ll be coming back to Bangkok later, I’ll skip writing about Bangkok for now. My next stops were Ayuthaya and then Sukhothai, both of which were ancient Thai capitals and are famous for their temple ruins. More temple ruins!

As an aside, I had a conversation with a middle-aged guy in Bangkok who, upon hearing that I was heading to Sukhothai, said in a youll-understand-when-youre-older sorta way “You dont come to Thailand for the ruins, kid”, then left with his much much younger Thai “date”. Well I come to Thailand for the ruins, dammit. So that’s what we’re discussing here. Ruins.

And the ruins are okay, though after the much-more amazing Angkor area, I was a bit nonplussed by both cities. Ayuthaya is the younger city historically, and paradoxically has the worse-preserved archaeological sites. The town is on an island surrounded by rivers, so I did a little touristy boat tour to see some of the temples:

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which was okay. The part I liked the most though was this catfish-feeding pier on the riverback we came across, where you could buy catfish-feed to feed the fishies, like you might feed the goats at a petting zoo or something:

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Those fish sure were into the food. They were all “mawm-mawm-mawm,” gulping at the air to eat it. Actually they didn’t make that noise, but I did, while watching and imitating them. I spent a while there.

I also rented a bike to look around the Ayuthaya temples a bit. And there was some cool stuff like these stuppas:

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and this awesome buddha head:

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But in general the Ayuthaya historical sites are in the middle of a big city, and feel very urban and dirty and poorly-kept. Sukhothai, on the other hand was very pleasant. The Sukhothai historical park is about 10km outside of Sukhothai proper, and it actually feels like a big park, with nice landscaping and green lawns everywhere:

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I rented a bike again and had a very nice day riding around the area, taking self-portraits with random trees and stuppas:

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The temple ruins themselves are very well-preserved at Sukhothai, though obviously nowhere near as impressive or extensive as the Angkor temples. It was interesting to see how ancient Thai religious architecture differed from the Khmer. They’re very similar in some respects, but Thai temples are much more buddha-centric, though still with some hindu elements. Buddhism obviously got to Thailand a lot earlier than cambodia. And of course, being thailand, they had a lot of big buddhas:

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That last one was the famous “Talking Buddha”. It has a hidden staircase in back that leads to behind the mouth. Supposedly one Thai king motivated his troops for battle by summoning them to the buddha and having it miraculously speak to them. Clever king!

So maybe you dont come to Thailand for the ruins, but they were nice enough I spose. And I had fun riding my bike around feeling adventuresome in my safe little historical park.

See my ayuthaya and sukhothai flickr sets below:

ayuthaya:

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sukhothai:

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3 Comments!


  1. Nov 2nd, 2007at10:10 am

    Ick to that middle-aged sex tourist. ICK TO HIM.

    Nice shot of MVB (Most Valuable Beard) in the talking Buddha pic. Taylorshaw.net: for all your travel- and beard-blog needs.

  2. Sep 21st, 2009at10:02 pm

    Thailand is miracle land for tourists. I like historic temples in Ayuthaya but i didn’t has a good chance to go there. Thank you so much for your picture and story blog.

  3. Sep 22nd, 2009at8:55 am

    Thank YOU, sir for reminding me that my picture and story blog exists. I really need to start writing here again.
    thanks for the comment.

 

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