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    Tropical Storm Tour: Thailand Part 12

    Monday, June 15, 2015
    Ayutthaya, Thailand

    Tuk-tuk / songthaew hybrids in Ayutthaya, Thailand.
    Tuk-tuk / songthaew hybrids in Ayutthaya, Thailand.

    A food stall at a market in downtown Ayutthaya, Thailand.
    A food stall at a market in downtown Ayutthaya, Thailand.

    One of the ladies who runs the PU Guesthouse roped me into taking a two-hour boat tour on the rivers that circle around the island of Ayutthaya. Close to 4:00 pm, I squeezed into a tiny songthaew (a truck with two benches running parallel down the length of the bed) with six other travelers for a ride down to the river. We were so packed like sardines in there, I was astonished that we all fit.

    Flyer chaos in downtown Ayutthaya, Thailand.
    Flyer chaos in downtown Ayutthaya, Thailand.

    Wat Phananchoeng, a Chinese  Buddhist temple in Ayutthaya, Thailand.
    Wat Phananchoeng, a Chinese Buddhist temple in Ayutthaya, Thailand.

    At the river, some other travelers joined us as we climbed into a long, narrow, very low-slung boat with a huge motor in the back. During the first leg of the trip, the driver was going way too fast, which caused a bunch of spray to fly up all over me. I felt like I was taking a shower. At one point, I’d had enough, so I turned around and motioned for him to slow down a bit. I couldn’t even bust out my camera because of all the water flying everywhere.

    Wat Phutthai Sawan in Ayutthaya, Thailand.
    Wat Phutthai Sawan in Ayutthaya, Thailand.

    A picturesque doorway at Wat Phutthai Sawan in Ayutthaya, Thailand.
    A picturesque doorway at Wat Phutthai Sawan in Ayutthaya, Thailand.

    At our first stop, we had to crawl out of the boat onto a really high platform that was right underneath a low-hanging beam. Talk about a double-whammy challenge! Up on dry land, we had 20 minutes to check out the Wat Phananchoeng, a Chinese Buddhist temple and surrounding grounds, which was chock-full of intricate ornaments, statuary and dragons spiraling up poles. I was the first person back on the boat and sat up front to avoid another shower. The driver tried repeatedly to get me to sit in the middle of the boat where I was before, but I refused to move. Fortunately for whoever sat back there, the driver went slower for the remainder of the trip. I was stoked because I could shoot some video of the rustic shacks on the riverbanks.

    A long row of Buddha images at Wat Phutthai Sawan in Ayutthaya, Thailand.
    A long row of Buddha images at Wat Phutthai Sawan in Ayutthaya, Thailand.

    A beautifully weathered wall at Wat Phutthai Sawan in Ayutthaya, Thailand.
    A beautifully weathered wall at Wat Phutthai Sawan in Ayutthaya, Thailand.

    At our next stop, climbing out of the boat onto a small pier was made hazardous by a low-hanging roof with a razor-sharp metal edge. I unwittingly lightly tapped the top of my head on it. Luckily, no blood was drawn. It would be very easy to split open your head on that thing. But, even that ordeal might be worth it to witness the Wat Phutthai Sawan temple, which was surrounded by lots of scenic gardens full of shrines decorated with small statues and nicely weathered walls.

    A crowd poses for photos in front of Wat Chaiwatthanaram in Ayutthaya, Thailand.
    A crowd poses for photos in front of Wat Chaiwatthanaram in Ayutthaya, Thailand.

    A missing Buddha image at Wat Chaiwatthanaram in Ayutthaya, Thailand.
    A missing Buddha image at Wat Chaiwatthanaram in Ayutthaya, Thailand.

    Saving the best for last, our third and final stop of the day was at Wat Chaiwatthanaram. Luckily, there we merely had to step out onto an embankment covered with rocks held tight by wire mesh, which was a walk in the park compared to the first two. This place was crowned by a giant prang surrounded by crumbling chedis and four walkways that formed a square with Buddha images in each covered corner that were mostly destroyed. It was obvious that various sections of this temple had been restored with newer brick.

    A view through a room at Wat Chaiwatthanaram in Ayutthaya, Thailand.
    A view through a room at Wat Chaiwatthanaram in Ayutthaya, Thailand.

    Get back into the boat at Wat Chaiwatthanaram in Ayutthaya, Thailand.
    Get back into the boat at Wat Chaiwatthanaram in Ayutthaya, Thailand.

    On the way back to the pier where we got picked up, a fellow traveler named Tim who was also staying at the PU Guesthouse struck up a conversation. As we exited the boat, we decided to grab some dinner right there at an outdoor market. Now in his 50s, Tim has for decades worked for an NGO and thus traveled to–and even lived–in an amazing amount of countries on nearly every continent. We chatted away for a couple of hours, trading little bits of knowledge about various countries and their cultures, architecture, food, etc. It’s always fun to make a connection with a fellow traveler that way, as many of the 20-something ones don’t even make eye contact and don’t seem like they want to interact much, if at all.

    Words and photos ©2015 Arcane Candy.

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