Watch Lo­cal Thais Wor­ship

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yut­thaya is an is­land at the meet­ing of three rivers, the Chao Phraya, Pa Sak and the Lop­buri. There are sev­eral ways to reach this is­land, but most of the time visi­tors will choose to cross the river by ferry. That is no sur­prise, for trav­el­ling by boat is pop­u­lar among for­eign­ers be­cause it not only re­veals the beauty as well as lifestyle of the peo­ple on both sides of the Chao Phraya but also what life was like at the time of the Ayut­thaya king­dom.The Chao Phraya also served as a trans­porta­tion chan­nel for trad­ing with for­eign coun­tries. The other way is to take a taxi or rent a mini­van, and travel via the high­way or ex­press­way but be­ware of tourist scams. Some say the cheap­est and scenic way to go to this place is by train, which reg­u­larly de­parts from Bangkok’s Hualam­phong sta­tion and stops in Ayut­thaya. The trip takes about 2 to 2.5 hours de­pend­ing on the type of ser­vice. Bear in mind that the rail­way sta­tion is not on the is­land but across the river a short ferry-ride away. The fer­ries run ev­ery few min­utes and are quite cheap.

His­tor­i­cal Jour­ney

There are some ru­ins to see and in­ter­est­ing le­gends to hear about, as Ayut­thaya is an an­cient city. Here are some that are worth a visit:

Bang Pa In Palace (Sum­mer Palace of the King)

Bang Pa-In Royal Palace is a com­plex for­merly used by the Thai kings. The palace is lo­cated on the Chao Phraya river­bank in Bang Pa-In district, Ayut­thaya. The palace was orig­i­nally con­structed in 1632 by King Prasat Thong, but it is largely empty. King Mongkut be­gan to re­store the site in the mid-19th cen­tury, fol­lowed by King Chu­la­longkorn from 1872 to 1889. The at­trac­tions in­clude large gar­dens and the land­scap­ing within. There is also a Chi­nese-style royal palace and throne room, We­hart Cham­runt (Heav­enly Light), a royal res­i­dence, the Warophat Phi­man (Ex­cel­lent Shin­ing Heav­enly Abode), a brightly-painted look­out tower, Ho Withun Thasana (Sages’ Look­out), and a pavil­ion con­structed in the mid­dle of the pond, Ai­sawan Thiphya-Art (Divine Seat of Per­sonal Free­dom). The palace re­mains largely open to visi­tors, and to­day the king and his fam­ily still use it oc­ca­sion­ally for ban­quets and spe­cial oc­ca­sions. There is an in­ter­est­ing story re­lated to this palace. In 1881, Queen Su­nanda Ku­mari­ratana and her only daugh­ter, Princess Karn­ab­horn Be­jraratana, were on their way to the Bang Pa-In Palace when the royal barge car­ry­ing them cap­sized. Ac­cord­ing to Thai law at the time, touch­ing a royal was pun­ish­able by death, so on­look­ers looked on help­lessly as they drowned and were in­structed to do so by a guardian on an­other boat. King Chu­la­longkorn, shocked by the events, de­moted and jailed the min­is­ter who had obeyed the let­ter of the law at such cost and erected a memo­rial to her in Bang Pa-In. This tragedy is widely known as ‘The Death of Queen Su­nanda’ by Thai peo­ple.

Phra Bud­dha­sai­yart

A jour­ney to Wat Pho in Bangkok would not be com­pleted with­out tak­ing a pic­ture of a golden re­clin­ing Bud­dha in the area. Sur­pris­ingly, Ayut­thaya also has a re­clin­ing Bud­dha, only this one is made from a bricks and mor­tar. Although the statue is less pop­u­lar than the one in Wat Pho, the re­clin­ing Bud­dha in Ayut­thaya His­tor­i­cal Park is cer­tainly worth the visit. Lo­cated at the Wat Lokaya­sutha Ayut­thaya, the re­clin­ing Bud­dha here is smaller at 36 me­tres as com­pared to 46 me­tres at Wat Pho. The statue is known as Phra Bud­dha­sai­yart, and the area at ground level be­neath its head is cov­ered in tiny squares of gold leaf which have been paced there by lo­cal peo­ple as Bud­dhist tourist of­fer­ings. Flow­ers and in­cense are also pre­sented as of­fer­ings. Phra Bud­dha­sai­yart has been re­stored on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions in mod­ern times, most re­cently af­ter the flood­ing in late 2011.

Phra Chedi Si Suriyothai

Phra Chedi Si Suriyothai is sit­u­ated in Wat Suan Luang Sop­sawan. This is the place where Queen Suriyothai, King Ma­hachakraphat’s wife, was cre­mated. The an­cient story says that Queen Suriyothai died on an ele­phant’s back, hav­ing saved her hus­band from dan­ger in the war with Burma. The Queen’s noble death had a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on Si­amese society. The chedi and the tem­ple were es­tab­lished in 1548 as a memo­rial to the Queen’s heroic deed. A white-and­gold chedi was built as a memo­rial to a pre­vi­ous queen. Set in a small, well-kept gar­den, it is a memo­rial to the first hero­ine in Si­amese his­tory. It is also a proof of the hon­our that an­cient Si­amese society gave to women. The re­mark­able story is still told to­day.

Lo­cal Ex­pe­ri­ence

When you goes to Wat Naphrame, take a look at the 2,000-year-old Bud­dhist monastery that lies ad­ja­cent to the main tem­ple. You will see lots of stalls in the tem­ple that sell Bud­dhist re­li­gious items rather than regular tourist sou­venirs, and you will also see lo­cal Thais wor­ship­ping out­side the main wat: it is such a beau­ti­ful ex­pe­ri­ence.

Buy Coconut Ice Drops

When you ar­rive at Ayut­thaya you will see coconut sellers ev­ery­where. Yes this pop­sickle-like ice cream is a spe­cial­ity prod­uct of Ayut­thaya. The ice drops are molded into rec­tan­gu­lar shapes and are avail­able in sev­eral flavours such as plain coconut, young coconut, coconut with jack­fruit and coconut with mango . The ice drops can cer­tainly beat the heat and hu­mid­ity around area.

Watch Thai Ladies Play­ing the Ranat

The ranat is a tra­di­tional Thai mu­si­cal in­tru­ment made from bam­boo and teak with two small mal­lets. Some are curved and some flat, pro­duc­ing dif­fer­ent mu­sic pitches. It is sim­i­lar to the Lao­tian and Cam­bo­dian ver­sions. If you see Thai ladies play­ing xy­lo­phone-like wooden in­stru­ments that pro­duce beau­ti­ful and haunt­ing mu­sic, then you have seen the fa­mous and in­ter­est­ing ranat.

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