Sunday, November 19, 2006

Ayutthaya

Okay, lots of pictures today! Ruined temples are even better than sparkly ones!

Ayutthaya was Thailand's capital for 400 years, and it was a merry and prosperous city. But in 1767, after more than two centuries of recurring tensions and invasions, the Burmese (those pesky Burmese) finally sacked the city once and for all and it had to be abandoned (the new capital was established at a small riverside settlement called Bangkok). The Burmese were nothing if not thorough: By the look of things they went to work on all the Buddha statues in the city (and there are lots) – they're nearly all headless (the authorities, apparently infuriated at foreign tourists taking 'humorous' seaside photos of themselves as the 'head' of a decapitated statue, have put up pictorial noticeboards insisting on respect for all Buddha images – even incomplete ones).

And here's the famous sandstone Buddha head that has become entwined in the roots of a bodhi tree. Given the number of Buddha bodies without heads, I really want to make a joke about this head actually having a bodhi. But I won't.

Then we went for an elephant ride. The Rough Guide said 400 baht for a 20-minute ride “through the central ruins”. I don't know about “through the central ruins”. It took us down the road and back again – not exactly a sightseeing tour. Elephants don't move fast, so you don't get much distance for your 20 minutes. It was fun though, if a little bumpy. But hey, I've ridden on an elephant! (excuse the quality of the photo – it's a photo of a photo. And don't ask me why our driver is wearing some sort of Canadian Mountie hat)

And then we decided we'd had enough excitement for one day. And enough sun (really must get some sun cream. Can't believe I've lived in Thailand for three weeks without sun cream.). So we find the bus stop, and our bus, and we get on. And off we trundle. And the ticket lady comes: 55 baht. What, there's a 5 baht premium to leave Ayutthaya? It only cost 50 on the way here. And she explains that there's third class, second class. But this bus is exactly the same as the one we came in. Wait, not quite the same: this one has a TV. It's showing a snowstorm. Suddenly it buzzes into action, just long enough for the show title to flash up: “Big Kok” (I'm not making this up), before descending into a snowstorm again. Ah, I get it: this is second-class. On the first-class bus, the TV actually works.

Oh, and this is the cool season, right? And people keep telling me how chilly it is (although I haven't yet noticed anyone wearing a sweater). Well if it's that damn chilly, why do we need to have the air conditioning set to “sub-arctic”?! That's what I want to know! I have a cardigan on and I'm still shivering. I'm willing the journey to end just so I can get out and defrost.

1 Comments:

At 12:37 pm, Blogger Mother said...

Very punny! How exciting to see all that. Jumbo looks very placid, I don't expect your combined weight slowed him down too much.

 

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