I have quite a keen interest in Buddhism so decided to spend a full day in the historic city of Ayutthaya learning more about Buddhism and exploring a city which once ruled over a large kingdom.
I decided in order to get the best from my day I needed a good guide, however what I got was truly an exceptional guide. Jerry from Tour with Tong was a monk for two years and to be able to spend time with him and learn about the history of Ayutthaya and the Buddhist religion is probably one of the highlights of my life so far!
We started the day with a leisurely visit to the King of Thailand’s summer palace, Bang Pa In. King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) was in love with European architecture and this is reflected in the style of the gardens and some of the buildings. There is of course a very Asian slant on some of the buildings with a residence built and crafted by Chinese builders. The highlight of this visit for me was seeing King Rama V’s actual throne.
Bang Pa In is a popular stop for tourists however Jerry ensured we left early from Bangkok and beat any crowds that may turn up. It was interesting to see how much the flooding of 2011 affected this area whilst the palace and it’s grounds where protected the watermarks on the walls outside were in places waist deep.
Everything at the palace is kept immaculate from the gardens to the buildings and it was a great place to start our day.
After our visit of Bang Pa In Jerry took us to our first ‘special visit’. Just outside the palace is a temple built in the style of a European church I doubt many visitors would notice it or bother to use the rickety cable car to cross the river.
We were the only people who seemed to visit this area and the temple was very strange. Whilst it looked exactly like a catholic church complete with spire and stained glass windows the inside was very much a Buddhist temple. Inside Jerry began to explain the history and concept of buddhism and the local monk blessed us with the holy water and reminded us to use our brain and be knowledgeable.
The day really just got better from here in, Jerry took us to see a large gold seated Buddha which was made with 300kg of gold leaf. Again we were the only tourists in this temple and we spent time watching and learning the traditions of the locals. From shaking fortune sticks to buying cloth that is run over your head and wrapped around the statue of Buddha.
We were also extremely fortunate enough to see some of Buddhas ashes that were on display in a particular temple we visited. What made this experience all the more incredible was Jerry who got goosebumps from the experience and excused himself to bow to Buddhas ashes.
The day continued with us visiting the ancient city of Ayutthaya and learning about what pagodas are used for, how many treasures are buried and have been looted from the temples and about the history of the city.
I found out that the flooding in 2011 was really bad in this area with some watermarks at 2 metres high!!
Jerry continued to let us amble around at our own pace all the while telling us more about history and Buddhism and inviting questions about his time as a monk. We got to see the famous site of the Buddhas head in the tree roots and Jerry also bought me some coconut sugar and roti pancakes. I have never tried these before but they were delicious a bit like candy floss wrapped in a pancake- yum yum yum!
I honestly could have not wished for a better guide and this particular day was incredibly memorable.
I cannot recommend Tour with Tong and her guides enough this is the second trip I have done with them and it was even better than the first.
For full disclosure I want to point of out this trip was not sponsored I paid exactly the same price for my tour as any other tourist would. Tour with tong deserves a link and all the credit she gets for being an absolute first class tour service.
If your ever in Bangkok or Thailand and want the services of incredible personal guides then make sure you look up Tour with Tong