A step back in time to ancient Ayutthaya

Although our very jungle-esque hotel Felix River Kwai Resort is beautiful on the outside, I’m happy to leave the next morning and escape from the ants and mosquitoes that fill the room after a long sleep following our day on the backs of elephants and bamboo rafts. Centara Grand, our five-star resort that we stayed at in Bangkok equipped with beautiful meals, a poll and waterfall shower, seems very far away.

The grounds at Bang Pa In Palace. (Photo by Jenna Intersimone)

On our way to Ayutthaya, Ken and P.A. stop us at a roadside stand where they are roasting rats and fermented eggs. The pair buys some of it for all of us to try, which I avoid since I’m already not feeling so great from a bumpy bus ride. Everyone says that the rat is actually pretty good, and the egg isn’t bad either, but what they actually find gross is the mango slices that Ken and P.A. give us afterwards. Go figure.

Just some rat for a roadside snack. (Photo by Jenna Intersimone)

After a long drive, we get to the Royal Palace of Bang Pa In, which no one seems extremely interested in actually learning about but we do appreciate cruising along the beautiful grounds in a golf cart and killing some time before getting back on the bus. The original structure, built by King Prusat on the banks of the Pa Sak River, was used by Ayutthaya kings until the Burmese invasion of 1767. After being neglected for 80 years, it was built during the reign of Rama IV and became the favored summer palace of King Rama V until his wife died on a capsized boat on her journey there.

Me at Bang Pa In Palace. (Photo by Jenna Intersimone)

G.R. drives us around in the golf cart with Natalie in the front seat and Mike and I in the backseat, and even though it’s hot in our long skirts and pants, which is required dress code for the palace, it feels nice to be checking out the elaborate buildings, delicate animal-shaped shrubbery and getting lost in the massiveness of the space and gardens.

Cruising around on the golf carts with Natalie and G.R. (Photo courtesy of Natalie Hecker)

Later, I’m not feeling so hot from being out in the sun and sitting on the bus, so even though the temples we go to are cool, I can’t wait to get to our next destination, Pattaya. We visit Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Ayutthaya’s largest temple where Mortal Kombat was filmed and where the royal family worshiped, and then we head to Ayutthaya Historical Park, a massive site of ruins very reminiscent of Rome, in which the evidence of the pillaging by the Burmese in 1569 is still evident from the plethora of headless buddhas.

Headless Buddhas at Ayutthaya Historical Park. (Photo by Mike Politz)

That night, I’m feeling a little better and Mike and I take a dinner cruise alongside the river with some of our tour group. Although its not much of a dinner cruise in the sense of the word in America – all of the meal courses are served at once and we are disappointed to see the same foods we have been eating with our group day after day – gliding along the river with some Changs and some new people that we haven’t hung out with much is nice.

Our tour guide, P.A., and I on the dinner cruise. (Photo by Mike Politz)

We get to see the stunning Ayutthaya Historical Park at night, which P.A. runs over to take pictures of, even though I’m sure he has now seen it countless times. However, once I see it lit up like this, too, I can kind of understand why he doesn’t get tired of it.

Ayutthaya Historical Park at nighttime. (Photo by Jenna Intersimone)

CONTINUE READING HERE: Getting acquainted with Pattaya, a city of debauchery 

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