Ayutthaya, Thailand; Day 2

Today, we rode in a tuk tuk, hired 4 Grab cars (think Uber-Asia) and rode a river boat – yet we still walked 5 miles. Phew, no wonder we’re tired.

We haven’t walked this much since our hike to watch a sea turtle lay eggs in Tortuguero, Costa Rica last September. Fun fact; those eggs became sea turtles that would be about 2 1/2 months old today.

Our day started out with a disappointingly expensive breakfast in a very pleasant riverside hotel. We are not staying at this hotel but thought that their restaurant looked inviting.

Suaram looking great (as usual) and Brian looking goofy (as usual)

It had a lovely view of the Chao Phraya River and the Wat Phutthaisawan which we visited later in the day. They had pancakes on the menu which were presented like this.

The stringy topping looks like cheddar cheese but tasted oddly sweet. 3 kids ordered them and 1.5 were happy about them.

After breakfast we went to the ancient Wat Mahathat. You may remember that there is a similarly named wat in Sukhothai which we visited earlier this week. The common word mahathat refers to Great Relic and has been used with several Buddhist temples in Thailand. Often these wats were favored by ancient kings who honored the temple with known relics of the Buddha and his teachings.

The most interesting and unique attraction at this wat is a banyan tree whose roots have grown around the head of a Buddha statue.

The precise circumstances of the stone head getting entwined in a tree isn’t known but it’s a well visited (and frequently photographed) part of an ancient wat which the Burmese burned to destruction in the 18th century.

The primary Adventure today was to embark on a 2+ hour river cruise in an old rice barge which circumnavigated the city center of Ayutthaya.

In addition to enjoying the city from the river we made stops at three historic sites. The first was Wat Phanon Choeng to see the largest Buddha statue gilded in gold anywhere in the world. This statue was completed in the late 14th century and has been restored several times.

These photos don’t do justice to the size of a 19m (62ft) tall Golden Buddha. Pretty stunning – made more impressive by the tight space it sits in.

Our second stop also featured an amazing presentation of Golden Buddhas. These were lined around the outer wall facing the main prang at Wat Phutthaisawan. CreeperKitty estimated it was 128 Buddhas to go all the way around.

Our third stop was a large site with an impressive intact center prang – it was in ruins but it looked like some restoration was underway.

Our boat ride ended with a drive-by feeding of a river-friendly elephant.

Fortunately our boat captain was ready with bread rolls that her passengers loaded one-by-one onto the trunk and into the mouth. Everyone was pleased by the interaction but we got a little damp in the process.

The day ended with a taste of a local delicacy. It’s famous in Ayutthaya and available here and in Bangkok but almost nowhere else in the world. It’s called Roti Sai Mai. The kids were excited about this one – it was created by Ayutthaya’s Muslim population who adapted traditional roti into a sweetened version like a crepe and then rolled it around Thai Cotton Candy like a burrito. The Cotton Candy part of that description is what got the kids.

We bought some thinking they’d assemble it there, but instead we received it packed to go. We waited to eat it until we got back to our hotel and on the 15 minute walk passed at least 20 food stalls selling this treat – apparently we’re staying in the hot area for Roti Sai Mai. When we got back, we checked out what we got. On the right is the roti – there were about 10 individual crepes in there still warm from the store. On the left is the Thai Cotton Candy – notice the typical air-filled bag to keep it from getting squished.

Thai Cotton Candy is not like the fluffy stuff we’re used to – it’s more like thin straws or threads, the kids thought it was like hair.

We watched a you tube video and it’s created sort of like pulled taffy but during the pulling, the candy separates more and more until it is super thin hairlike threads.

Everyone tried it and Dad and the boys decided pretty much right away it wasn’t for them – the texture of the Cotton Candy straw was too weird. Suaram and Mom, the family sweet tooths, thought it was pretty good, especially while the roti was warm and softened the straw texture of the filling. We’re not sure if we’ll buy more, but maybe.

Regardless if we liked it, we agreed it was fun to try something new – and it explained what had been on the kids’ pancakes that morning. Always nice to end the day with a mystery solved.

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