the ancient city and the grand palace

Posted by lena on June 20th, 2007 filed in Thailand

It has been a busy couple of days here in Bangkok. On a whim, Adam and I decided to go to the ancient city of Auttyua (at least that is how it is pronounced…I don’t remember how to spell it) so we booked a tour with one of the thousands of tour companies lining the roads and Wednesday morning a van picked us up. There were 9 other travelers on our tour – a woman from the Dominican Republic, a woman from Holland, three people from South Korea, a woman from Japan, and a couple from Denmark. Over 200 years ago, Auttyua was the capital of Thailand then the Burmese attacked the city in 1767. They burned everything and destroyed the temples and the Buddha statues. 90% of the population left and they made Bangkok the new capital city. Auttyua is far from complete ruins. We saw an enormous temple that was probably 500 feet tall. All of the intricate design had been burned away and some of the plaster as well to reveal the brick underneath, but it was still magnificant. Next we went to the a city of ruins. At this site there used to be tons of temples but most of them had been reduced to piles of brick and parts of Buddhas. My favorite part was a giant Buddha head at the foot of a tree. Over the years, the tree had grown around the head so it looked like the Buddha was looking out from the trunk. It was beautiful. Apparently, when the Burmese attacked, they removed the head and tossed it aside where the tree grew around it. We saw the reclining Buddha which is over 8m tall and 42 m long. Our last stop was at a temple that housed an enormous golden Buddha. Unlike the other temples, this one had been rebuilt. I don’t know how tall the Buddha was, but standing up, I went up to the ankle. While it was incredible to see these ancient structures, I was more interested in them because they are still places of worship for the Thai people. Everywhere we went, we saw people making offerings to the Buddha and praying in front of him. It makes me want to learn more about Buddhism – my high school far eastern thought class was just not enough information. When we got back from Auttuya, Adam and I got a Thai massage (this time it really did hurt although Adam moaned the entire time much to the amusement of the girl giving him the massage). We ate dinner and drank beer while watching a pirated version of Pirates of the Carribean. We checked out Khal San road (the main backpackers market street) and were unimpressed. It was so very touristy – the only Thais were the people selling the stuff. I managed to stay awake until 8:30 before I crashed.

This morning (Thursday) we checked out of Bhiman Inn and moved a few blocks over to The Happy House. Our room is smaller, without a TV, Pool, or breakfast, but we still have air conditioning (an absolute must) and a shower with warm water (although the toilet is actually in the shower). We are also a little closer to all of the restaurants and shops (although really these are everywhere). We walked to the Grand Palace and saw some really wonderful authentic Thai neighborhoods on the way. Apparently, tourists don’t walk places so if we walk even a few blocks, we are the only white people! The food was much cheaper ($.30 rather than $1) and less people spoke English. The Grand Palace was somewhat of a disappointment for me. My guide book told me that wearing capris would be fine, but it lied. I had to put on this full length skirt to get in and I swear it was made out of wool. I was sweating before I left the air conditioned dressing room. The Palace was beautiful. It was actually the remains of the city where the king used to live…I think. To describe these buildings would not begin to do them justice. I will show you pictures when I get back. My favorite part was the temple of the emerald Buddha – Thailand’s most sacred Buddha. They didn’t allow pictures in the temple (which was a relief – I was beginning to feel like I was at Disneyland) and the Thai people were praying/kneeling in front of it. The Buddha itself is actually made out of Jade and sits at the top of a beautiful golden temple structure – again, I can’t even begin to describe the detail and beauty of this temple, but as cameras were not allowed you’ll just have to visit Thailand and see it for yourself. It was so peaceful and cool in the temple I didn’t want to leave. On our walk back to our new hotel, we stopped at a little restaurant on the river and ordered the best papaya salad and Phad Thai I have ever had (total bill for both of us $4). We stopped back in our room to ring the sweat out of our clothes before taking off again. Have I mentioned that it is REALLY hot here? I’m trying to be respectful of the Thai culture by wearing tee-shirts rather than tank tops and long pants, but I am dying (plus all of the tourist wear whatever they want). Tomorrow, I think that we’ll go to Lamphani park. I’m out of time. All my love to everyone.

2 Responses to “the ancient city and the grand palace”

  1. David Says:

    ew, toilet in the shower?!?!

    this sounds awesome so far, I cant wait to see the pics!

  2. mel Says:

    Great to hear about your trip. I miss our frequent phone conversations so reading your journal helps me feel connected with you.