Friday, March 2, 2012

Bangkok Getaway: Day Trip to Summer Palace and Ayutthaya


There are many options to get to Ayutthaya with the cheapest being a combination of train and buses. We decided on hiring a private van and a guide since it would cost about the same as an organized tour and we could control the itinerary and more importantly made sure there were no stops at the infamous "shopping" stops. We found several options on tripadvisor and settled on Nook. The whole package cost 7500 baht for the whole package which included the van, toll, fuel, guide fee, water and lunch. Nook did cancel last minute as she was stuck out of town but got her friend Nicky to cover.

The day started off with a trip to the Summer Palace that was used as a getaway of previous Kings of Thailand. On the way, Nicky provided excellent information and commentary on the Summer Palace and the places we would visit the rest of the day.

Summer Palace reminded me of our visit to the Royal Palace in Bangkok. I was most intrigue with the various influence of cultures including Chinese and European. I was told one of the previous Kings was one of the first (if not the first) monarch in South East Asia to travel to Europe and upon his return, instructed several European style buildings to be build to show to the West that Thailand was just as good. Nicky also helped solve the mystery on why there were "Chinese lion statues" at the Royal Palace and around Bangkok.This statues were used as weights in ships on the journey back to Thailand from China and upon return, there were no use of them and was just use as decorations around Bangkok.

The Lion Statue

Chinese Palace - a gift from Chinese immigrants

At Ayutthaya, we stopped by some of the famous sports including the Sleeping Buddha, the "buddha head" and temples. Ayutthaya used to be the capital until it was attacked by the Burmese. They eventually relocated the capital to Thornburi before moving to the present location in Bangkok. Only ruins are left today but it is still a sight to be seen when one thinks about how magnificent this city was once were.

The day was hot and humid even though it was still one of the cooler months when we visited. Thank god we had the air conditioned van to drive us to the various sites around Ayutthaya. Overall, it was a fun trip and definitely worth the trek and effort to head out of Bangkok. I wish I could Ayutthaya but in its heyday though.

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