Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Ayutthaya and Phimai

Ayutthaya

Most people will be familiar with the name Ayutthaya, as it is a UNESCO heritage site that is easily done as a day trip from Bangkok. Some of the more amazing places are only able to be done by boat around the island, and obvously going to the historical park to see the famous palace/temples is a must do (and we focused on).

Apart from the amazing temple and palace complex, that were built during the Ayutthaya Siam Reign in Thailand, there is not much else happening for this city. There are bigger night markets elsewhere, and must more interesting places to look at. The novelty of being on an island though its nice, and if you avoid the main part of the pub/tourist street it can be quite nice.

We also were happy we saved our Thai massage experience to be outside of Bangkok, as the prices dropped by about half. There are quite a few options in town, and we enjoyed the one we selected (at the start of pub street). Definitely go for the hour if you can spare it as its a wonderful experience.

Phimai

Phimai Historical Park
It is a shame and blessing that more people dont know about Phimai. I originally stumbled across Phimai when I was looking for something that was kinda on route to Laos, yet easily able to get to Cambodia within a day.

On the train to Nakon Ratchasima (from here you take a bus to Phimai), we met the only other European descent tourists we saw in this city, and it was really nice to go somewhere that was overrun with local tourists (as we were leaving mass Thai tour groups and school kids arrived). We were extremely lucky and while we were there, we managed to almost have the whole place to ourselves (6 others in total for the first 2 hours). The ruins at Phimai are quite amazing and extremely old. Originally settled during the Khmer period (the famous Angkor Wat people) it is one of the oldest scared sites in the Isan area. It has been rebuilt throughout the ages, but the overall structure is more in line with Angkor Wat, than Ayutthaya or Thai styles. The place is very well cared for, and it was lovely to see the local people maintaining it using exactly the same tools (in type) that were used to construct this place (see the museum in the site for what I mean).

A little bit of the tree
The town encloses on the historical park, and has a few other tricks up its sleeve, such as the very good night market, and the fact that its quite small so you can walk most places. We did venture out of Phimai to see the amazing Sai Ngam Banyan tree. This tree is one massive tree, and has definitely got the feel of being alive and lurking everywhere. Everything that you see, is all sprouted from the one acicent tree. The locals consider a very scared place, and there is even a temple woven into the trunks. We loved the cool feeling you enjoy under the canopy and you are able to get your lunch delivered from the local shops across the road. We easily got a ride back with hitch hiking (although we got a moto out there), and after that we headed to our home stay in the region.

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