Buddha, Buddha, and more Buddha!!!

RTW: 2007-2008, Southeast Asia, Thailand — By on June 28, 2008 7:15 AM

Nicole and I have spent the past two days going from wat, to wat, to wat; seeing Buddhas galore! We have seen golden Buddhas, giant Buddhas, sitting Buddhas, standing Buddhas, reclining Buddhas and have learned the meaning of each position according to Buddhists…

reclining – exact moment of Buddha’s enlightenment
sitting – Buddha teaching or meditation; if the right hand is pointed towards the earth, Buddha is showing subduing the demons of desire; if the hands are folded in the lap, Buddha is turning the wheel of law
standing – Buddha bestowing blessings or taming evil forces
walking – Buddha after his return to earth from heaven
headless – we still have no clue but want to know!

While in Bangkok we visited the local T.A.T office, a government run travel agency, that supposedly gives cheaper rates. After an hour with “Art” we had secured our accommodations and transportation for the next 10 days. We figured our experiences would be “more authentic” through T.A.T rather than booking through a backpackers travel agent. Apparently, this experience involves being dumped on the side of the road instead of at a proper bus station!

Our first stop on our search for wats, was Sukhothai, an ancient city established in the 13th century and was the center of rule for more than 150 years. Sukhothai means “Rising Happiness”, and was the original capital of the first Thai kingdom, before it was eventually superseded by Ayuthaya to the South.

Upon arrival in Sukhothai, we were dropped off on the side of the road and we began wandering aimlessly in search of our guest house. Again, the only people we saw were monks and we are still unsure the proper etiquette in associating with a monk. We should probably figure out how one communicates with a monk, if at all, as they are usually the only people to be found when we find ourselves lost! A nice Thai woman took notice of us and pointed us in the direction of our guesthouse.

We decided it was best to explore the historical park early in the morning since it is so freaking hot and we would be biking from wat to wat. Being from the deep South, we think we can tolerate the Thailand’s heat and humidity better than most. But after biking for hours to all the different wats, we were both completely exhausted and covered in sweat. We decided to seek shelter in the Ramkhamhaeng National Museum, but it was not air conditioned and we were too hot and tired to retain any sort of information. It was so hot and we were so thirsty that we decided to take our chances on a juice smoothie filled with ice. So far so good!

Below are a few of the wats we saw in Sukhothai…

Today we took a bus to Ayuthaya, and were once again disposed of on the side of the road by our bus driver…this time on a freeway! Of course, the “stewardess” of the bus pointed us in the absolute wrong direction of our hotel. After trekking along the freeway with our backpacks, we both began to fear we were going the wrong way. We ended up jumping in a tuk tuk, which drove us the 5 km to the Ayuthaya Grand Hotel. It was about 3:00 and we only had a few hours to tour the wats before they closed, so we hired an air conditioned cab to drive us around for two hours. Not a bad deal for only $10 USD each. Our driver ended up being a teenage boy in a regular car and I am convinced he is the concierge’s son. Regardless, it turned out to be a good thing we hired a driver because the wats were spread out all over the city.

Ayuthaya is an island located in the middle of three rivers and became the second Thai Capital after Sukhothai. Today a modern city has sprung up around the holy ruins and is twice as populated and urban compared to Sukhothai.

My favorite Buddha of the day was the Buddha carved into tree roots and the enormous reclining Buddha.

Below are a few of the wats we visited in Ayuthaya…

After two days of ancient ruins, Nicole and I were both completed watted out! We decided to find dinner and stumbled upon a HUGE outdoor market which entertained and awwed us for hours. We both ate the most random things including fried chicken legs, fried green beans, mussels fried inside cornbread, watermelon, donuts, and Thai iced tea. Everything we ate was really good; however, there were lots of questionable items to be bought as well, including fried bugs, strange balls of meat, and fried fish skins just to name a few. One could purchase a wide range of items including food, animals, clothes, electronics, and music. I am still trying to talk Nicole into buying a bird, as so many people we meet insist that we need a bird!

Tomorrow we are headed back to crazy Bangkok…

To see photos of Ayuthaya , CLICK HERE!

To see photos of Sukhothai , CLICK HERE!

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1 Comment

  1. Ash :-) says:

    I know what you mean about the birds! When Jamie and I traveled to Barcelona (the summer I was in Madrid), we had to ride the train to Barcelona with a bird in the same train car (some woman’s parakeet) and then when we were walking around Las Ramblas (big sidewalk/median in Barcelona with a market), there were several bird stands with people pushing birds on us. It was weird.

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