|Hands of the Buddha at Wat Mahathat|
At this point, I thought that another temple would just send me over the edge. But these two ruins demonstrate Thailand's vast and glorious past and is necessary (and just plain stunning) if you are on the heritage quest.
Although technically not the first Thai kingdom (Chiang Sean was established 500 yrs earlier as well as Lanna and Phayao already existing), it stands out as the "golden age" of Thai civilization. This was the peak of religious art and architecture and the king during 1275-1317, Ramkhamhaeng is credited with developing the first Thai writing.
The grounds of the ruins are extensive so hiring a moto (moped) was the perfect way to see the site without suffering excessive heat exhaustion. Don't ask me how people were doing this by bicycle! It was steamy enough - even with wind (albeit, hot) blowing on us at 40km/hr.
|Our wheels - all 100cc of it|
|Alex assisting some archeologists on a dig|
|Wat Si Chum|
|Hand made toys|
|Little noise makers|
Just as impressive are the ruins of Siam's second capital, Ayutthaya. King Ramathibodi came here to escape a small pox outbreak in the mid 1300s and Ayutthaya thrived until finally succumbing to another Burmese invasion in 1767. Unfortunately, at these sites, you'll find many Buddhas decapitated or even completely destroyed.
Don't forget a boat ride around sunset to visit the many temples along the river that house gargantuan Buddhas.
|Buddha seated at Wat Phanam Choeng|
|The reclining Buddha at Wat Yai Chaimongkon|
Bicycles are best for the actual site since the temples are not too far apart. But for longer distances, you should hop into these pimped up tuk-tuks that have that Darth Vader look.