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Ayutthaya History

AyutthayaHistorical Park

Ayutthaya history and the war with the Burmese

River Cruise
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Day Tour
The city was the old capital of Siam 
At about 1350 the city emerged into the known history, but this old Thai town as it was known with a different name at that time probably existed before.

The location on an island at the confluence of two rivers was an excellent place to built this urban area because of a natural protection. Later walls were added and trade flourished, goods came from China and Japan over the river and via the land corridor.

When trading increased with a higher density, goods were shipped from the north on three rivers, the Chao Phraya , Pasak and Lopburi river, they were stored and shipped again over the sea, the seashore of the Gulf of Thailand was much further north as it is today.

Historic data showed that the traded goods were shipped down from the north of then Siam and per vessels from China and Japan. They were moved south on huge barges which were unloaded in the city which actually was built on an island encircled by the before mentioned rivers. It always needed a river cruise to the island this was different to the tours of today which are more culture oriented to temples and pagodas plus the historical park.

Traded where metals such as copper and tin, hardwood and other products, ivory, elephants and more. At that time there was a huge demand for elephants from India. India absorbed most elephants from neighboring Burma and Thai elephants were moved from the city down to coast off Chumphon and traveled over the Isthmus of Kra to the Andaman Sea coast. This is the narrowest piece of land between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific / South Sea .


The buyers of these goods
Photos
Buyers were from the Netherlands, England, France, Portugal and other countries.

There is also some indication of busy trading since several ships sunk during storms in the straits of Malacca which were found in recent years off the coast of Malaysia and Indonesia.

Most of these sunken treasures ships carried loads of Chinese and Thailand products such as ceramics, porcelain, silk, and celadon. Today business is done in Bangkok and tourists and industry is around. There are several manufacturing plants among other production of Honda cars.
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Ayutthaya historical park

Photos
Ayutthaya was the Thai capital before Bangkok which today is just 100 km in between. 

Since the mid-14th century Ayutthaya (Ayudhya) had been one of the most important cities of Southeast Asia, it functioned as a trading center between east and west.

That went on for around 400 years until the Burmese attacked the city, destroyed large part of it und took thousands of people back to Burma.

In the 17th century prosperous and densely populated. Europeans and Asians alike picked out for special praise in their accounts of the capital its high standard of civilization, all gold and other precious objects were kept in the city's monasteries.
  1. Ayutthaya historical park
  2. Ayutthaya view from the hotel
  3. Ayutthaya historical park (1)
  4. people on the chao praya river
  5. Ayutthaya Wat Phrasisanpetch
  6. Ayutthaya Buddha Head in the tree
  7. Ayutthaya Buddha Statue
  8. Chao Praya Riverside

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There was, among other, a thriving business with all kind of potteries, big and small coming down the river from places further north such as Sukhothai.

This Thai handicraft was traded in the city, loaded mainly onto Chinese and Dutch vessels and shipped to the south, Arabia, Persia, India, and Europe. From China came mainly silk, ceramics, and porcelain.

Over time Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Netherlands, French and Indian companies opened trading companies and did a brisk business since the city had a strategically excellent and protected location.
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Among other celadon from Thailand and China

[Thai and Chinese Celadon fom a sunken ship]
Thai and Chinese Celadon fom 
a sunken ship off the Malasyian 
east coast

A glimpse into the past was possible after several sunken Chinese, Dutch and English vessels were found off the Malaysian east und west coast. Loaded, among other, with plenty of merchandise from China and pottery from the kilns of Sisatchanalai a bit to the north of Sukhothai. The Kuala Lumpur Marine Archeological Museum with plenty of shipwreck treasures is built around this remains of the past. The goods found their way into the trading houses at Ayutthaya and shipped on to India, Persia, Arabia and Europe.
They were sacking it and creating chaos throughout the Siamese kingdom. A Sino-Thai, Taksin (1767-1782), was not only able to restore order to a new capital at Thonburi, but was also able to establish an extensive empire under Central Thai (Siamese) control using force and the tributary system to bring Lan Na, Luang Prabang, and the Malay States along the southern border under his authority.

The remaining centers of the former Tai-Lao kingdom of Lan Xang, Vientiane, and Champasak were placed under more direct control. Mainland Southeast Asia was now divided among the three kingdoms of Burma, Siam or Thailand, and Vietnam. Today, we need to remember that the idea of a "nation-state" was a European concept introduced into Southeast Asia during the nineteenth century. Its introduction not only added to changes in the region's political map, it also altered the area's cultural and social practices as the Tai peoples were divided and incorporated into larger and more centralized political entities.



The distance to the ocean was less than it is today.


Major trading items of the Europeans were weapons, in particular the Portuguese got a very strong position because they had what the Rulers in Siam wanted, excellent guns and other war material, all this finished after the Burmese came. Below some imported weapons from Europe are shown in the Bangkok National Museum.

Weapons recovered in Ayutthaya
Revolver recovered in Ayutthaya
Revolver recovered in Ayutthaya (2)
Revolver recovered in Ayutthaya (1)
Ayutthaya got sacked


History and Sacking Ayutthaya by the Burmese
Historic pictures and Burmese Invasion

When the Burmese finally conquered the city it was not the fist time they tried they did it several times before but were not so successful. But between 1548 and 1568 they tried 2 times and at the last attempt they did it although it took them almost a year.
The last time they moved over the hills with around hundred thousand armed men, elephants, and horses plus an immense supportive logistics. It is not very clear how many came since the numbers at the time were always massive exaggerated.

Ayutthaya was sacked
The miniature models here are from the Bangkok National Museum

Finally, in 1569 the city was sacked and thousands of prisoners were taken with to Burma including the King who died on the way. The importance of the city as the capital of Thailand ended with the sacking which started when 3 Burmese armies approached the city from the west (Three Pagoda Pass), south (Mergui or Myeik and Chumphon) and north (via Keng Tung and Nakhon Sawan).

The Burmese killed and destroyed almost everything and everybody and the time of that area came to an end and the capital was moved to Thon Bun and Bangkok was a small town at that time, situated on both sides of the Chao Phraya River.



Revolver recovered in Ayutthaya (1)
Revolver recovered in Ayutthaya
Conquering Ayutthaya with the elephant
Warfare with elephant

The old capital of Siam is one of Thailand must see destinations

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A tour to the city is one of the most popular Bangkok day trips.

The short journey is best made by train this also open up the view into the life of Thai people when passing through Bangkok and after through the wide paddy fields.

Rural and city life is very similar in Thailand. Since the train journey finally ends up somewhere in northern Thailand there are plenty of people ready to make the long trip with plenty of luggage and food means it might be difficult the find a seat when traveling in the third class.

But third class travel is just the right starter to get into the mood, since it won’t take more than one hour and half it’s no problem and as we know a place is found even in the smallest hut.
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Ayutthaya is only the first part of the journey  and most of the tourists get off the train here for their day trip, the train continuous to northern Thailand. An alternative could be a cruise up the Chao Phraya River but since there is no regular boat service. This trip can only be done by hiring river ships for dozens of passenger some even have cabins to stay on the ship for a few days.

What are the benefits of a tour to this ancient city? An incredible dive into the past of Asia with temples and monasteries plus enjoying the laid back river life of central Thailand, not much has changed except cars came instead bullock carts and modern buildings. If one prefers it more rural with actual oxcart travel, coach trips and horsepower it’s not far away needs a trip to Myanmar Bagan .





























The Historical perspectives

Photos of Ayutthaya
This ancient city emerged sometimes around 1350 into the known history; Ayudhya is it was also known very likely existed already for quite some time before.

The strategically well-placed city on an island at the confluence of two rivers received continuous goods from the north via the rivers.

Only a very few destinations on the planet give a true glimpse into the last about 800 years comfortable discovering within a day trip. In southeast Asia this is more or less only possible at Ayutthaya and further north at Lopburi and Sukhothai. In Myanmar (Burma) it’s Bagan and Mrauk U and the temples of Angkor Cambodia.

A trading place

Goods came from China and Japan, where traded in the city and shipped on to India, Persia, Arabia and Europe and vice versa. From China came mainly silk, ceramics, and porcelain.

Over time Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Dutch, French and Indian companies opened trading houses and did a brisk business since it was possible to access the city harbor coming from the Indian Ocean and up the river. It is very likely that the position of Ayudhya was much closer to the ocean as the about 140km of today, somehow similar to Bangkok today.
  1. Thai celadon which was in a Chinese vessel originated in Ayutthaya
  2. Ayutthaya History and travel
  3. Thai Burmese war
  4. sacking of Ayutthaya (1)
  5. interesting miniatures of the sacking of Ayutthaya in the national museum
  6. sacking of Ayutthaya
  7. part of Thai Burmese war

A cosmopolitan Asian Capital 

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The foreign trading settlements

This were well-defined enclaves among canals immediately south and southeast of the walled city. They occupied both banks of the Menam or Chao Phraya River. The Dutch settlement, the "Hollander" factory, and compound, was the northernmost of the settlements on the east bank of the Menam. Its warehouses and offices were contained in a large, brick-and-plaster building, the largest of the commercial buildings in the city.
Opposite the Dutch was one of the three Chinese quarters, downstream from the Dutch, and on the same bank, was the English factory. Further downstream still, on the other side of a tributary canal, was the Japanese settlement.

In recent times they followed this pattern with tourism when they opened first Phuket to concentrate to tourists there after Ko Chang and a few places such as Pattaya just came up because of the Vietnam War. Thais always try to keep foreigners out of their core countryside.

They also put a lot of restriction on foreigners such make it impossible to buy any land and including condos etc. with it. Most foreigners don't know that many find out after a while they really don't own what some local people sold them with the help of some local "law twister".

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The contrast of colors of which gilded spires against green groves was the most typical, how living conditions verged on the point of overcrowding both on land and water, and the sheer size of the walled city alone which some estimated as being close to 6 miles in circumference. They also noted that the city continued its spread out beyond its walls as if there were no threat of external attack. Until the 17th century, the city grows as big as London or Paris of that time and was one of the most interesting cities in the East.

There were English and Chinese settlement

Including St. Dominique's the center of the European Catholic community's town, it was a church originally founded by the Jacobite Portuguese and later joined by the French Foreign Mission.

A short distance further down the west bank' and north of the mouth of large, busy canal called Khlong Takhian, was the Jesuits' Church of St. Paul, again founded by the Portuguese and joined later by the French. The English Episcopal Church and its seminary were where St. Joseph's is today, opposite the southwest corner of the Island of Ayutthaya half-way between Wat Chai Watthanaram and Wat Phutthaisawan.

Well outside the city to the northwest was an academic establishment known then as the College of Nations. In reality, it was a religious school, and most likely a French Catholic one. There Christianity was taught and instruction in European languages was given to the children of local and international communities.

The standard of instruction was very high and it is on record that the youth of were taught French at this college to a high degree. In fact, six Asian students of several nationalities were sent from this college to make competitive exams in France. One of these students gained first place in his exam and the others scored highly.

In comparison to the Japanese and Chinese who are Mahayana Buddhists, the other Asian foreigners are not well-known. 17th-century European maps show settlements of Cochin Chinese (Mahayana Buddhist, Vietnamese and Muslim, Chams from central Vietnam), Malays (which include Sumatrans as well as Javanese) and Macassar (from Mangkasara, the principal island of the Celebes) today Indonesia.

All of them, except for the Cochin Chinese, were from predominantly Sunni Muslim countries. The Iranians at the city were Shiah Muslims, or Shiites, and remained apart from the Southeast Asian Muslim settlements.
For all their religious diversity Europeans and Asians of the extra-mural settlements had but one important reason for staying there, and that was the better to promote their separate commercial interests - to trade and to conduct profitable commercial activities.

Ayutthaya Nightlife
Ayutthaya Photos
The nightlife in the former capital Ayutthaya can't match the current major places.

But it has a certain charm since it is in the Karaoke and Thai massage direction only. The reason are the Japanese factories around the outskirts
of town.

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Ayutthaya Nightlife
Ayutthaya Nightlife