Woke up both feeling much better after our day of ‘doing nothing’ yesterday! Had breakfast at the hostel – toast, watermelon, dragonfruit and sticky rice with mango. So glad we were getting on the bikes to burn off all that fruit! For the first time in our trip, we have not downloaded a guide book to use – we decided to simply cycle wherever we fancied and hope that we don’t miss anything important… Headed into the city island in the central part of Ayutthaya and went to Wat Maha That. The Royal temple that houses Buddhas relics was constructed by King Borommaracha I in 1374. It was renovated in 1633 but the Burmese attacked it in 1767, burning the monastery and the abandoned pagoda was left to decay. The site itself is stunning, even with the derelict building, half sinking into the earth. The whole place has a charm about it that we haven’t seen in many other UNESCO sites (and we certainly haven’t seen it for a while!). We walked around the complex, admiring the different stupas and chedis with some decapitated Buddha statues dotted around. As we turned a corner, we saw a huge crowd of people. As we approached, we saw this…Believed to be from around the mid 1600’s, the Buddha head was once part of a sandstone Buddha image which fell off the main body onto the ground. It was gradually trapped in the roots of a constantly growing Bodhi tree. It was amazing and took my breath away – for the first time in my life, I almost felt spiritual…Jayne managed to put some reasoning behind my feelings – nature encapsulating a man made object and reclaiming it as its own. Whatever it was about it, I could have happily sat on a bench and stayed there all day! Kept walking around the monastery site and were approached by a group of students, asking us to participate in a survey. They had a list of questions (written in Thai, English and Chinese) and were so giggly during the interview. They happily posed for a photo with us afterwards. Jayne wanted to interview them for our blog but I think their English didn’t stretch that far…Jumped back on the bikes and headed further north on the island, stopping at a couple of temples we found en route and driving through massive puddles. Arrived at Wat Thammikarat and walked around the ruins there. Slightly bizarre amounts of cockerel statues everywhere… Not really sure why and they were only in one place. A beautiful pagoda with decorated archways and lion type statues. Three little children came and sat next to us, inching closer and closer, practising their English via their dad who was sat nearby. It was so sweet, especially when I asked the young boy his name, he replied ‘my name is what is your name?’ Even his dad laughed!
Headed back to the hostel for a rest and had some noodles for lunch. The lovely hostel owner brought us out some more watermelon as we sat on the terrace deciding what we should do for the afternoon. Once we had cooled down and rehydrated, we jumped back on our bikes to Wat Wora Pho. Unsure of the date of construction as there has been no evidence found to indicate when the temple was built. The Prang itself was massive and there was the vihara of the Buddhas footprint on the south side. Just opposite is Wat Wora Chet Tha Ram. Built around 1593 as a mighty crematorium by King Eakathosaror to honor his elder brother who died in battle. The King invited over 10,000 monks to the Royal cremation. Next we headed to Wat Lokaya Sutha, a massive 42m long reclining Buddha that was majorly reconstructed in 1954 with the remnants of a vihara surrounding the statue.
Cycled through the backstreets, stumbling across a market which looked slightly like a car boot sale at times, with people selling old coins and a lady who was clearly trying to get rid of her extensive shoe collection – if only I could have got my massive feet into her ‘Hello Kitty’ Toms… Finished our day at Wat Ratchaburana. Located in the central area of Ayutthaya island, it was the place that King Sam Praya’s brothers were cremated and the chedis were built in 1424 as memorials to the princes. Eerily deserted, the area was a mixture of semi-reconstructed buildings, overgrown vegetation and, in places, what looked like a Buddha statue graveyard. Stopped at the night market on the way back to the hostel, continuing our tradition of a progressive street market food crawl. Started with what was basically a sweet pancake wrapped around pieces of sausage and crab sticks… It was weird! Then had an omelette with bean sprouts and oyster sauce although we both decided to have the vegetarian options, not sure either of us wanted to risk the actually oysters in the oyster sauce! This was all washed down with the biggest drink I have ever seen – Jayne was in heaven as it was basically E numbers, food colouring and soda water in a jug full of ice! Finished off the meal before cycling back to the hostel with some homemade coconut ice cream. I went for a cone but clearly with a need for more E numbers and food colouring, Jayne opted for a strawberry ice cream float… I reckon she will be bouncing off the walls all night!!Saturday 11th June 2016