The "Crap, We Gotta Get As Many Sights Within One Day's Driving Distance Of Bangkok In As Possible Before I Leave" tour continues, this time heading back to Ayutthaya Province for Wat Niwet Thammaprawet Ratchaworawihan (pronounced just like it looks, obv), Bang Pa-In Royal Palace, and the abandoned second capital of Ayutthaya:
Wat Niwet Thammaprawet Ratchaworawihan
King Chulalongkorn, aka Rama V, was a modernizer. He admired the west and wanted to bring western ideals to Thailand. In 1876, he commissioned this temple and complex, and it is most reflective of his desire. It's also the only wat I've visited that we accessed by cable car.
Bang Pa-In Royal Palace
King Chulalongkorn's western vision carried through his restoration of Bang Pa-In Royal Palace. As we walked paths winding along gardens and Euro-styled buildings, we also saw soldiers standing guard. A discussion began on "how bored would we be doing that job?" since no threats seemed apparent. Soon after a young rifle-wielding solider approached and insisted that we follow.
I wasn't going to argue.
He showed us a cool site to take pics we'd missed, and engaged my party in a long discussion (all in Thai, of course, so I just stood and smiled). He was so nice he also took a picture with me.
As we walked on we saw him chase down another group. And we guessed that, yes, being a guard was boring, so you become a guide to pass the time. And a guide with a gun? So much better.
Next to the ruins of Siam's second capital city, Ayutthaya. I've been here before, though there were parts I missed. Why? A discussion among my friends describes it well:
"He didn't go to Wat Yai?"
"No, it wasn't walking distance from his hotel and the tuk-tuk drivers were pissing him off."
I get cranky--but it's nice to have friends who know this and love me anyway.
Ayutthaya's royal palace built in 1448(!), each of the three large stupas holds ashes of a prior king.
An active temple on Ayutthaya's grounds, this temple has an eclectic look--and puppies.
So I subtitled this the corrective experience, because, as cranky as the prior visit here made me, this one was lovely. It makes a real difference when you can travel with your friends and aren't dependent upon money-hungry touts for your human interactions.
That brings some bitterness to the sweet, knowing I'll be largely on my own soon. I'll miss my Thai peeps dearly. Yes, I'll carry them in my heart and memories, but that just isn't the same.
That's just a rationalization.**
**Thanks for ending on that high note, Jamie. Ever thought of writing greeting cards?