The city of Ayutthaya in northern Thailand was the capitol of the country for over 400 years, approximately from 1350-1750 AD. The Burmese destroyed the city the 18th century, but there are still some good ruins.
Old Map of Thailand (Siam)
During its time as a capitol city, Ayutthaya was one of the largest port cities in all of South East Asia. The Siamese traded with all the Chinese, Japanese, and all the European seapowers.
Unfortunately, most of the Buddas were beheaded by vandals.
Budda head in stone. My students in China were very impressed with this picture.
A final parting shot from Thailand. This me at a museum in Bangkok dressed as a Thai citizen from the 1950's. Note the vacation mustache.
After a few nights in Bangkok we headed south to the island Koh Pan’an.
A brief aside: Changsha in the winter is cold and wet. Its a tricky kind of cold, there is still a lot of humidity in the air so even though the temperature is usually above freezing the coldness seems to penetrate and get in between ones bones. So leaving Changsha for Thailand was nice, really really nice. When we were finishing the semester in Changhsa, nothing seemed better than spending a good chunk of time bumming around the beaches of Thailand.
Unfortunately I don’t have many pictures of our time on the Koh Pan’an, carrying around a camera everywhere like an anchor and keeping track of it on the beach just didn’t interest me at the time. I did get a few quality shots though.
Phil and Kelly
Phil, Victoria, Kelly
We spent 10 days on Koh Pan’an, the time mostly spent snorkeling, reading on the beach, hiking, eating, and a little bit of scuba diving. And we rented mopeds for the week, which was really fun.
Bangkok was crazy. I met up with friends and fellow teachers Phil and Victoria, and Phil’s friend from home Kelly. The very first day we were in Bangkok there was a large street festival outside our hostel. Lots of thai-food, live music, performance artists, and crafts.
Ladyboy cockfighter on the right.
At the street festival there were two men acting like roosters in a cockfight. Only underneath the bright silk head-dresses they were wearing heavy mascara and women’s makeup. And the fighting had strong homo-erotic overtones. The men would circle each other, attack each other, then one would start humping the other. They would retreat and then do it again.
Muay Thai fighter
We also saw a Muay Thai fight. Muay Thai is the national martial art and it’s a big deal. Muay Thai uses lots of elbow and knees. Phil mentioned that in the 80’s there was a huge mix martial arts competition in Asia with all the major disciplines represented. None could last more than a few minutes with the Muay Thai fighters. Usually profession events are expensive (for volunteer teachers), so we were pretty excited. But our excitement turned to horror when the fighters entered the ring. They were boys not older than 8 or 9. Literally. And they didn’t have special rules for the kids. It’s not like head shots were banned or the kids wore padded helmets like amateur boxers do. No, there kids were going at each other full on, bloody-ing each other up and everything. I’ve been in China for six months and it is radically different from the US, but wow, watching those kids fighting, with the crowd getting rowdy and cheering then on was total culture shock.
We didn’t spend much time in Bangkok. We wanted bright sun and warm water to swim in. We headed south to the island of Koh Pang’an for two weeks.