Sunday, January 13 was our free day in Bangkok! We chose to go with our teachers and 6 other students to Ayuthaya for the day. Ayuthaya was the second capital city of Thailand from 1350 to 1767, and is now a popular site for visiting the ancient ruins of temples from that time period. We visited 3 sites of temple ruins. The 2nd temple we visited was built in 1374 and was the resident of the supreme monk of Ayuthaya. This temple took 16 years to build. Ayuthaya is also home to the first Catholic Church ever built in Thailand. This church was built in 1512 by Porteguese immigrants. Our tour guide taught us about the different religions of Thailand including Buddhism and Catholicism. We learned about the 5 rules of Buddhism for Lay People which are; no adultry, no lying, no stealing, no drinking alcohol, and no harming animals. We bought incense, candles, and gold leaf so we could rub the gold on Buddha and leave the lit incense and candle and a lotus flower as offerings. Also, we got to have a cage with a small bird in it, and as we opened up the door to release the bird would make a wish! Angela our tour guide made it really fun for us, and we loved making wishes.
For lunch we ate at a traditional Thai restaurant on one of the many rivers in Thailand. Some of the things we ordered included green curry, sweet and sour chicken, chicken fried rice, and duck. We also had two very interesting desserts. One of them was warm milk with Taro root and the other was iced milk with water chesnuts that had been soaked in rose syrup. Our favorite was the warm milk with Taro root!
After visiting the various temples we headed back to the hotel. When we got back we asked some of the other members of our group what they had done. Some people explored the city riding the Tuk Tuk which is a motorized vehicle with open sides that holds two people. Other people laid by the hotel pool and others decided to use the day to catch up on some sleep.
At around 5:30 we and our friend Mike decided to get our first massage in Thailand. We walked down the road from our hotel to a massage parlor that had a lot of people in it assuming that that meant it must be a good one. We each got hour long foot massages. It was really relaxing and we talked to the people giving us massages and found out that they were around our age. It was nice being able to have a short conversation despite the language barrier. After the foot massage we were each given a very short head, neck, and back massage. We all decided that before we leave Bangkok we are going to return for a full hour of a head, neck, and back massage.
When we got back we heard that there was a big group of people at Khao San Road, a popular back-packer destination. We took a taxi there with two other kids in our group to meet up with everyone else. Khao San Road was full of shops, vendors, and bars. We got to meet other travelers and the whole night was a lot of fun.
Our free day was a blast because we got to learn more about the culture and history of the Thai people while enjoying amazing food and company. Not to mention the warm temperatures, which are always better than the cold winter of Boston, where we are both from. The massages and nightlife was a great way to end the day and we thoroughly enjoyed our free time in Bangkok!
-Jane Siegel and Alex Nuesse