Go to Razzle Dazzle welcome page. Ayutthaya, Thailand


Ayutthaya   |   Bang Sai   |   wat

September, 2004

Thailand photo.
1. Night tour
Thailand photo.
2. Tuk-tuk
Thailand photo.
3. Elephant rides
Thailand photo.
4. Fish farm

— Index —

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The City of Ayutthaya was founded in 1350. It was the royal capital of Siam until 1767, when it was conquered and destroyed by invading Burmese armies. The city was named after Ayodhya, the unconquerable city of Rama in the Indian Ramayana stories. It remained the center of the Siamese empire for 400 years. At its peak, Ayutthaya had a million inhabitants and controlled much of modern day Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Burma. European visitors in the early 1500s called it the most illustrious city they had ever seen. The city was virtually abandoned after the Burmese destruction. Most of what remains from that era is in ruins (see photo #1, at left).

Today, the city has a population of about 80,000. It looks much like other Thai cities, although the tuk-tuks are a unique shape (photo #2). The modern city is intermixed with the large number of ruins from the ancient capital. Many of the ruins are simply piles of brick or low foundation walls. The best preserved buildings seem to be the wats. We were surprised by the lack of foreign tourists in Ayutthaya. At all of the historic sites we visited, we saw very few foreigners amongst the many Thais visitors. There were many Thai students who appeared to be there for school outings.

We went to Ayutthaya largely to see the ruins of the ancient capital. But the city has other attractions, including boat tours around the city (which we enjoyed), museums and elephants (photo #3). There was a time when wild elephants here were rounded up and herded into a giant stockade made of teak logs. Today, there is a restored version of this stockade, called the elephant kraal, where elephants provide rides and other entertainment for visiting tourists. Because we had spent a full day with the elephants at the Elephant Conservation Center, we decided to skip the elephant rides.

A second reason for our visit was to see the Bang Sai Royal Folk Arts & Crafts Center, which is in Ayutthaya province. It turns out that Bang Sai is about half-way between Bangkok and Ayutthaya City — we could have gotten there directly from Bangkok. On the other hand, the traffic in the country was much less dense than it would have been near Bangkok, so it worked out all right after all. On the way to Bang Sai, we passed some very large, and very intriguing, clay pots in a pond along the road (photo #4). Panya, our driver, didn't know what they were, so we stopped and asked the owner of the house by the pond. It turns out that the pond is used to raise fish for sale in the market, and the pots are a sort of nursery for the baby fish. The baby fish must be kept separate or they will be eaten by the larger fish.


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Jim and Jamie Richter, http://gotouring.com/razzledazzle/
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Created 9/2004. All text & photos are © 2004 Jim Richter.