When I was in Bangkok I had some time to kill... they wouldn't give me a visa, but I'd left three days to get it. I spent Tuesday in Ayuthaya, Thailand's ancient capital, reminiscent of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, or Bagan in Myanmar. It's a beautiful site not far from Bangkok. Here are some photos of the trip.
Here I am climbing up one of the temples that was not in the main complex. This is a Burmese style of pagoda, but I forget why!
At one edge of the site there was an area where tourists can ride elephants. What can I say, but Thailand has almost perfected the tourist industry, and everywhere is about making money. For example, this baby elephant has been trained to squat so you can rest on his leg, then bow and hold out his trunk for the cash. I felt awkward sitting on him... I thought I'd squash his leg!
This is now in the main complex. It's a pretty neat place. At least it's not swarming with tourists yet. There are hundreds of stupas like this, in crumbling brick and stone. An interesting fact: it is nearly impossible to find a statue in Ayuthaya that still has its head. When the Burmese sacked in whenever, most of the people had gone, so they decapitated all the statues instead to vent their anger. Talk about the need for stress management!
Here's another view of the site--this one's just a little stupa.
Here's another view, with a slightly more intricate shape, and more intact outline.
What's fantastic is that all the buddhas have modern fabric robes in varying shades of yellow... it really adds some color to everything. They're simple, but they prove the Thai's continuing beliefs in the sacredness of the monuments. I love the fact that in the open air, they prove their faith and belief.
Thailand's largest outdoor reclining buddha. This has to be one of my favorite positions of the buddha. It's so ungodlike and yet still peaceful and relaxed. It almost seems contradictory to meditation... too easy to fall asleep. And would you look at the fabric on this one!
This is the famous image from Ayuthaya of the decapitated head with the tree that grew around it over time. Unfortunately what you cannot see from this is the fence that is cropped very close around it and the swarm of tourists all taking the same image!