Saturday 13 October 2012.
Highlights: Trip to old capital Ayutthaya, visit Bang Pa-In Summer Palace, with a river cruise back to Bangkok.
Sadly no tour members to see today means I’m rapidity finishing the South East Asian trip that began on Thursday 27 September when I left Australia. Today I had a booked tour to Ayutthaya which was the old capital of Siam (now Thailand) until 1767.
The day started well when the activity pick up occurred on schedule at 7.20 am with a van transfer to an air conditioned bus and I was off for a one hour drive to the Bang Pa-In Summer Palace. This Palace was heavily influenced by European style after King Rama V had travelled abroad, the future King is the son of King Rama IV who’s life is portray in “Anna and the King”. The palace is exceptional, the gardens go on forever. I did learn during this visit a Princess died in 1887 by drowning because no one was allowed to touch her on pain of death. Who would think there would be an exception.
After about 1.5 hours at the Palace we returned to the air conditioned bus with me sweating badly. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to hot and humid weather and today seemed to be worse than normal.
A half hour bus drive and we next visited Wat Maha That which is over 600 years old. Wat Maha That was the heart and soul of the Ayutthaya people. It was almost completely destroyed by the Burmese during Thai-Burmese war and the gold linings taken by the Burmese.
Next a short trip to Wat Na Phra Mane. This temple remains are in perfect condition, as it was used as the Burmese headquarters during the war. The splendid Golden Buddha is still caused a national treasure.
We then visited Wat Lokayasutharam to view a large reclining Buddha, not as big as the one I saw in Bangkok but this one is outdoors and exposed to the elements. Interesting to see the water marks of the statue which showed just how bad the flooding was in this area a year ago.
From here we drove to the River Cruiser which headed down the Chao Phraya River into Bangkok over a period off about an hour. Lunch was included and was a buffet with lots of options. I briefly chatted with an American about tennis in Australia and the USA. Now that my tour group is gone I better get used to seeking out people to chat to or I won’t get to talk much in the weeks ahead, which I suppose so would think is impossible!
The cruise was nice enough especially seeing the life of the Thais who live on the banks. It’s obvious that Bangkok and the surrounding areas is based on a lot of water travel and I now better understand how the flooding occurred. Nearer the end of the cruise I started to see some landmarks I had visited on the earlier Canal ride a few days ago.
On return to my hotel I noted I didn’t have a pick up time for my airport transfer tomorrow. Hopefully nothing will go wrong and I’ll pack everything I need for the extreme weather change that will be Iceland.
I used the remaining leftover Baht currency to buy the outrageous wifi from Bangkok Centre Hotel. In the end it was a better than not using the remaining money but only just :(.