From the centre of Bangkok a cruise down the Chao Phraya river takes you to the old capital of Ayutthaya.
The cruise itself gives you a view of the real Bangkok as you see so much riverside life on the journey. Then there is a lot to see when you arrive, this city served thirty three kings. The ruins of the old city are now an archaeological park full of temples, monasteries and statues in various states of disrepair. The city was burnt down in 1767 by the invading Burmese. It was never repaired. Much of its stonework was repurposed in the new Grand Palace but there is still a lot to see on the enormous site. There is a very strict dress code, you must cover your shoulders and knees and not wear anything tight or see-through.
Wat Phra Mahthat
The most famous image of Ayutthaya, a stone buddha head inside the roots of a huge tree.
Wat Lokaya Sutha
Another giant reclining buddha. It has the same pose as the Wat Pho buddha but is in the open air. Here people leave offerings of flowers and incense.
After that which Wat was which got a bit hazy as we went from one to another with no space in between. But I did learn – if its domed its a Prang or Cambodian style and if it’s pointed its a Chedi and Thai style.
Just to the south of Ayutthaya is the Summer Palace or Bang Pa. This was also a ruin but it could not be more different. King Mongkut built a new palace on the site in the nineteenth century so there is an artificial lake and beautiful green landscaped gardens . This is still the official royal palace but its rarely used except by tourists. Its an easy place to get around as you can hire a golf buggy.
This is the divine seat of personal freedom. An ornate pavilion in the middle of a lake. The most beautiful and impressive pavilion of the day.
Ho Withun Thasana
King Chulalongkorn built this tower. He was an amateur astronomer so it was an observatory as well as a place to admire the gardens.