Phra Nakhon Ayutthaya was founded c. 1350 and became the second capital of Siam. By 1700 is was considered one of the largest and finest cities ever seen — by those passing through the prosperous trading capital. In 1767 it was invaded by the Burmese and burned to the ground. The historic city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I arrived by train, took a little boat across the river to the island, easily found my hostel and checked in, then headed down to the night market to grab something to eat. Little did I know that Thai green curry is A LOT spicier than the Indian version! Back at the hostel I befriended an Irish guy and we made our way down to the river to watch the Loi Krathong festival — a full moon festival celebrated for almost 800 years after the rainy season. It is a festival of gratitude for the harvest and apology to the Water Goddess for polluting the water. The people make beautiful flower boats and put candles and money in them and send them down the river as an offering. Usually, this is a huge festival with fireworks, but because of the king’s death, there were no fireworks and it was apparently a lot quieter than previous years.
The next morning, I hired a tuk-tuk to take me to a couple of the famous spots, Wat Chaiwatthanaram, the Buddhist Temple in the Historic Park and another reclining buddha, almost as cool as the one in Bangkok, Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon. I visited one of the temples and decided to pay to go in one of them since the monk was waving me over. He led me inside and sat down and told me to sit in front of him, I paid the 20 baht that was stated outside the temple and before I knew it, he was trying a bracelet on me, saying a prayer for good luck and flicking water at my head. I was in awe! How special was that?! Afterward, I asked if I could take a photo of the inside of the temple and he said yes, then kept saying “photo, photo” I realized he was asking me to take a photo of us together. I was confused because I understood that women were not supposed to really have much contact with the monks or get very close to them, but of course, I seized the opportunity! I was over the moon leaving this temple since I never expected anything like that to happen!
I continued on to Wat Mahatat —a ruin where a buddha head was left for a fig tree to beautifully wrap itself around as it grew over the years!
After a quick rest back at the hostel, I headed to the elephant kraal where they train all the king’s elephants. Apparently, they are treated well here and some of them have been rescued from places where they weren’t treated well. My heart burst as I entered. There were elephants just roaming around eating everywhere! I was told not to go across the road because that was where the male elephants, including two ‘killer elephants,’ were. I was able to get close to two 9-month-old females and their moms, but because the mom of the little male was super protective of him I stayed clear of him. I got to watch some of the elephants come home from work, and I followed them to the river where they took a dip and headed back to eat and rest for the evening. One of the elephants decided to actually go swimming in the river and happened to see a boat of tourists, so he headed toward them. The boat took off in a hurry. Could you imagine being in a tiny boat and seeing a massive elephant swimming towards you?! Then he decided to swim a bit farther down the river toward some fisherman. The trainer was calling him but didn’t seem to be too worried. The wandering elephant eventually made his way back and was scolded but thankfully he wasn’t actually hit with the stick.
I enjoyed my last evening having dinner beside the river reflecting the supermoon and listening to live music. A romantic solo dinner …