Make the trek from Bangkok to its predecessor for a glimpse of the power, beauty, and sophistication of the old Siamese Kingdom.
The face of Buddha gazes serenely, its white stone nearly covered with dirt and moss from centuries of growth. It is so close to the colour of the thick tree roots that surround and entangle it, in fact, that the face would be easy to miss entirely.
In the storied Thai city of Ayutthaya, about 80km (50 mi) north of Bangkok, hundreds of such Buddha statues are embedded in the ruins that have grown up around the temples in this. The former capital of Thailand, Ayutthaya was once an important and prosperous city in the 14th through 18th centuries, its palaces, temples, and monasteries were abandoned and left empty after an attack by the Burmese in 1767. Slowly, over the last 250 years, nature claimed the Buddhist buildings and statues until they became part of the landscape, at one with the jungle that encroached. Many of the Buddha statues are headless; many of the walls lean at alarming angles; temple spires and stupas simply defy gravity.
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