Ayutthaya, the land of endless sun. Beautiful blue endless sky with not a cloud in sight. Nice wind but all it does is disguise the fact you're searing your flesh.
We had a wonderful night's sleep last night (not that we hadn't before in other guesthouses but our room was pitch black with all the shutters closed so we had no idea how late it was). We slept almost 12 hours and arose at 9AM to be the last guests up and about. Rick was anxious to head out to the Aranyik knife village that is about 40min outside of town. Give you one guess as to what he was looking for. For those who don't know, Rick collects knives and swords so adding an authentic Thai handmade sword (darb) from a famous swordsmith to his collection was at the top of his list.
To start our adventure, we allowed our host to call a tuk-tuk for us. Thankfully, it was a newer model (maybe 1990s) and didn't stall or backfire constantly. We headed out into the rural area of Thailand with neither of us speaking Thai, a driver who didn't speak English, a useless book of Thai phrases, and an
Wat in front of ruined summer palace
The disc is solid stone and about 5' across in diameter. Buddhas are engraved in the stone above the gold cloth.
ambition to find one particular sword/knife smith that Rick had read about on the internet. We had no address other than Aranyik village, his name, and his company name. Our host told the driver the guy we were looking for so when we arrived in the village he kept asking about him. After a little backtracking, we finally found the guy and his shop. Of course, they don't speak English and we no Thai. Through hand gestures and a picture Rick printed out from the internet, the wife seem to comprehend and off she went on motorbike (presumably to find someone who spoke English or back to the smithy). About 15min later, she came back with a sword exactly as Rick had described he wanted. After happily confirming his desire to buy it, she wrapped it up and off we went on the tuk-tuk, sword or darb in hand. (Rick speaking) OK. I really could of walked around a bit and looked at all the swords, spears, knives and other sharp and pointies but I know me and the temptation to go into debt would be too great. Grab the thing you want and get gone. It really helped that
Display board of Buddha footprints
This is what the footprints look like inside the temple of Nakhon Luang (see following pictures). It sort of looks like a giant bathtub below the Buddha statue.
it truly was exactly, to the detail, what I was looking for. Now how to get a 3 1/2 foot sword home??? Back to your regularly scheduled Tammy...
We stopped off at an ancient King's palace. We call is Prasat Psittacosis due to the absolutely horrifying number of pigeons in the place. Rick kept his hat on and Tammy her umbrella up the entire time, as protection from aerial "mishaps". It's real name is Prasat Nakhon Luang and was used as the summer retreat palace by the river. Many kings over the ages have used it but is in ruins except for the central temple. It is active and there was a monk inside that talked with Rick. Actually, he talked AT Rick in Thai and Rick just nodded in feigned understanding. He gave Rick a stack of little papers that we had no idea what to do with. So Rick gave a donation at the Buddha which presides over the gigantic footprints of the Buddha which sit inside the temple (see pics) and put the papers in his pocket. (Rick again) I did finally figure out that night that the monk was talking about the four Buddha footprints in
Active Temple inside Nakhon Luang Summer Palace
The summer palace is in ruins and filled with pigeons but the temple is intact and a working temple with golden buddha footprints inside. See other pic.
the "bath" and what they stood for. Gonna have to do some research to see what they stand for other than the Buddha's presence was directly at this place. Meaning, he was supposed to have walked here in spirit. (end Rick)
Back in the tuk-tuk for a relatively uneventful ride back to the guesthouse. The exceptions were the locals gawking at us (remember we're off the beaten tourist path and we're stupid enough to ride in a tuk-tuk) and driving in the median down the high speed highway in the WRONG DIRECTION!. Apparently, this is common for tuk-tuks and scooters which don't take the high speed highway (gee, wonder why not). They drive down the median and if the side road is just up a ways, just drive in the direction of oncoming traffic.
Back at the guesthouse, we asked about the papers. Our host, Ake, told us to look between the wax papers because there are squares of goldleaf in them. The goldleaf is placed on a Buddha as an offering. It is used because of it's purity and it supposed to placate the spirits. Oops, we have a whole pocketful of these offerings that we were supposed to
Buddha and Buddha footprints
Inside the working temple at Nakhon Luang ruined summer palace.
put on the Buddha we'd just visited. Our bad.
Next, we rented some bikes from the guesthouse and off we went to explore some more temples. First was Wat Maha That. This large brick ruin is famous for having a tree grown around a Buddha head. Nice to see a preserved Buddha head for once. Then off to Wat Phra Si Sanphet. This nice ruin was packed with tourists and has three large chedi in a row and is at the south end of the Ayutthaya Historical Park. After wandering around the ruin a bit we walked through a gate to the ancient palace. There was no one out there but us. Imagine a very large, well kept, city park with bits of brick walls and building foundations popping out here and there. Now is a good time to mention something special about Ayutthaya. Pardon the intentional pun but, Ayutthuya is positively littered with dogs. There are dogs in the street all over SE Asia but here, they are everywhere! They are gentle and non-aggressive but at least half are street dogs. You practically trip over them when walking down the sidewalk. When walking through the park we were approached
by lots of dogs looking for food. None got too close though but you had to keep an eye on them. There was one monk at a small temple at the far side of the park. But, we were basically the only ones around this massive place. Then we biked over to the Reclining Buddha. It carved of stone and just shy of 150 feet long. Noticing that there were little gold squares all along the length of this Buddha, we decided to use the gold we got at the summer palace. We both placed several little gold bits on the Buddha and then biked our way back to the guesthouse. Yeah, that's right. We were bike riding in rush hour traffic across most the island (remember they drive on the left side over here so just trying to remember to keep the curb on our left and turning into streets correctly was a chore). The drivers, recognizing we were foreigners, gave us plenty of room especially around the roundabout circles and we made it back safe.
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