From River Kwai we hired a driver for the three hour journey to UNESCO listed Ayutthaya. We were keen to see the sights of this once grand capital city of Thailand which was established in 1350 and then attacked and left in ruins by the Burmese in 1767. In 1700, interestingly, Ayutthaya laid claim to being the largest city in the world with a total of 1 million inhabitants. Being an island surrounded by three rivers including the mighty Chao Phraya, it offered easy access for international traders, particularly Europeans. The French were enamoured with Ayutthaya describing it as a grand city with palaces, gold laden wats, chedis, prang (towers), pagodas and a hydraulic water system. Little wonder it became an important centre of commerce.
However, the invading Burmese forces obviously didn’t see things in the same light and burnt the city to the ground. These treacherous acts of vandalism are always difficult to digest, but still in our time they are repeated. Think Syria and think of the unforgivable loss of so many incredible sights.
Old Ayutthaya was never rebuilt; instead the royal capital was moved downstream to Bangkok. Today, Ayutthaya is a bustling city. Tourists arrive from Bangkok on the very regular trains from Hualamphong Station for only a few baht and for the day to explore the 289 hectare Historical Park.
Before our arrival, Northern Thailand had experienced extensive flooding and the rivers were still full to the brim. This is the walkway onto the boat that took us across the river. I’ve said it before: I would hate to fall into these murky waters.
Now this sort of transport was easy.
We stayed one night in a relaxing guesthouse in walking distance to the train station since we would be taking the train the following night to Chiang Mai. Loved our roomy bungalow on the water. It’s really hot here so the pool’s very welcome.
Managed to munch and crunch my way through a few Pad Thais.