I had a second visit to Ayutthaya, this time with some friends, who were also in Thailand doing the “volunteer” experience. As I had been here before I didn’t want to see the same things so, whilst everyone else amused themselves taking elephant rides, I took a small group, who were happy to tag along, to Wat Phanan Choeng, which is a popular tourist attraction in Ayutthaya Historical Park.
It houses a large Buddha from 1334 CE. It is called Luang Pho Tho, and is thought of as a guardian for mariners.
There is also a traditional Thai house that you can go into and walk around. It is built on stilts to provide the area beneath the house with storage, a place to relax during the day, or to keep livestock. This is a traditional way of building Thai homes mainly due to heavy flooding during the year and, in ancient times, to prevent predators dropping in!
I gave my eager listeners a little information about the ancient city (with thanks to a copy of the Rough Guide to Thailand), and after lunch we went to Wat Yai Chaimongkol, which is situated a short truck ride away from the main city and surrounded by sprawling countryside.
The temple itself is nestled into neatly kept gardens. You can walk up the many stairs to the top of this temple, which is hard work in the heat of the day, but worth it at the top where you can get great photographic shots of the gardens and green countryside.
Also within the temple compound is an impressive white reclining Buddha, which represents the Buddha after his death.
Near to the ruined city of Ayutthaya was an elephant village, where the elephants rested after a tiring day, ferrying hordes of tourists back and forth for their enjoyment (the tourists not the elephant’s enjoyment). There are quite a few elephants housed here and you can watch them get fed, watered and taking their daily baths. There was a tiny baby one, which was very cute. I say tiny, tiny compared to its mother, but it still managed to butt me out of the way, with quite a bit of force I might add, so that I toppled backwards and landed in a pile of kee (shit). Poor thing got its own back, from being annoyed by humans, by head butting quite a few of us.
Wats and Pachyderms aside, on the way back to Singburi myself and another girl in the group, asked to stop so we could relieve ourselves. The truck stopped beside the roadside and unbeknown to us there was a mud hole and because it was dark (and we were desperate) she went flying into the mud (she went first-sniggers) and got completely covered. I followed but realised what was happening and so saved myself only to lose a flip-flop, which I managed to retrieve. Why the truck driver didn’t tell us we were only two minutes away from a service station, I still don’t know- I mean, they do this route every month with new volunteers (maybe that is why he didn’t tell us- for the amusement factor). Our co-ordinator made us get off the truck and wash the mud off because one never knows what one could catch from putrid mud in these tropical climes. And the moral of the story? Don’t go to the toilet in the dark- you never know what you might find!