Last Thursday I got to tag along on the M.2 (8th Grade) excursion to Ayutthaya. It's about an hour or north of Bangkok, and was the country's capitol city before Bangkok. The city was incredible. Even though it's not the capitol anymore, it is still a working city, so all through the city there are old ruins and temples in between the more modern shops and buildings. In addition to a small museum where we learned a little bit about the city's history, we ended up visiting 5 different Wats. I wasn't able to pick up as much of historical info as I would have liked (due to the tour guides speaking in Thai), but luckily some of the Thai teachers who were chaperoning as well were nice enough to translate some bits and pieces for me.
I ended up enjoying Ayutthaya so much that I actually ended up going back this past weekend. Jen, Kaila, and Kristen (who weren't able to be part of the field trip on Thursday) and our friend Clay, who were all planning on going for the weekend, talked me into going back as well. I didn't have my camera on me for Ayutthaya pt. 2, so I don't have any pictures, but we saw a couple new places and had an awesome time. Thanks to an offline travel app that Clay had downloaded, we found an amazing little hotel next to the river to stay for the night. Although our original plan was to go exploring right away, the hotel was so nice and relaxing that we ended up hanging out at the there for the afternoon and evening. I mean there were hammocks, lounging chairs, a bench swing, and some great music playing on the computer...so it was tough to justify going right back out again.
We met a few other people who were staying there (and all seemed very nice), but Ya, the hotel's owner, was by far one of the nicest people I've met in my travels. He sat and had a beer with us, talked to us about the area, and even brought us some fish food to feed the fish in the river which was cool. Later that night him and his (I assume) wife made a delicious (and free!) dinner for everybody. There was this stir-fried veggie dish that I think was primarily morning glory with a few other greens and plenty of garlic which may have been one of the tastiest things I've had in Thailand so far. After dinner Ya busted out his guitar and had a little sing-a-long. I mostly played along on a little drum box that he had.
The next day we rented some bikes from the hotel. Ya took us down the street a little ways and showed us around a floating market on the river where we had some lunch. After that he gave us some directions on how to find the closest temples and we went off to explore Ayutthaya. The last place we'd visited on Thursday (which was also my favorite) ended up being the closest to the hotel so I was pretty excited to get to check that out again, and for everyone else to be able to see it. Wat Chaiwatthanaram (which is what I think the actual name is) is a Cambodian style temple that was apparently constructed after having defeated the Khmer in a war. Unlike a lot of the other temples, this one is a bit more spread out...with a lot of grass and fields surrounding the main structure which I really liked.
Next, we rode across town awhile trying to find Wat Mahathat. We didn't know the name at the time, but knew there was a place where tree roots had grown around the head of Buddha sculpture. Overall the site was a little more ruinous, but it was still an amazing place to tour around. More so than in some of the other temples, there were a few preserved pieces of wall that had the intricately carved designs which likely covered the walls back in the day...so that was cool to see. Plus the whole tree roots growing around the sculpture thing was pretty sweet too.
Basically, Ayutthaya was the tops. I'm super glad I had the chance to go back not only to get to experience the city a little more hands-on than I was able to on the school field trip, but to also see a few things that we'd skipped over on Thursday as well. I just realized that I've now been procrastinating for at least 40 minutes...and these mid-term tests aren't gonna write themselves so I should probably go do my job now.