Ayutthaya Travel Blog› entry 15 of 49 › view all entries
We finally decided we needed to move on to our next adventure, but we left our hearts at Elephants and Friends. We've pretty much decided that we will go back there for the last week of our stay here.
Ayutthaya is a town just north of Bangkok that has several wats (temples). The Burmese invaded this area and destroyed a lot of the architecture here. Recently the town has grown into a tourist haven, as have many places in Thailand.
Our first impressions weren't great. The city is loud, the streets crowded, everywhere there are dogs in various states of pregnancy, mange and bad helath. On our way to the local night market we passed a dog on the sidewalk that looked as though both his eyes had been violently gauged out.
We'd heard of some Thais treating street dogs badly, and calling someone a dog is the worst of insults, but that dog put us over the edge. We lost our appitites as well as our excitement about the many temples here and just sat down by the river. Even in that random spot there were 6 dogs in sight, one pregnant. We tried to think of what we could do to help him but there weren't a lot of options. We had no idea if there was a vet hospital around (and by the looks of the stray dogs I imagine there isn't), and we didn't think this dog would let us near it anyway.
Finally we decided to buy it food. Megan didn't want to see it again (the image was very disturbing, which is why I do not have pictures) so I bought it some small sausages and went back. Oddly it wasn't interested in the sausages and then I noticed it was following the movement of my hand.
One reason so many stray dogs--and other animals, such as monkeys--end up wandering the streets in these Asian countries is that Buddhism frowns on the killing of animals. But where some Thais won't kill a dog, they will kick, beat or abuse them. There are hippocrites in all religions.
I would like to believe that this dog simply received head trauma from a car or motorcycle. I have seen very similar eye damage in cases like that. We also saw another Thai man offer food to one of the strays. That helped to sooth our hearts about Thai kindness. They really are a lovely people.
Today we did very little.
About 5pm I headed out to Wat Mahathat; leaving Megan to her drug-induced stupor. When we were in Kanchanaburi we saw photos of a Buddha statue's head surrounded by bodhi tree roots. A little research lead us here and that Wat was where it was located. We'd taken a room at a beautiful hostel called Baan Lotus--they had a very sweet owner who spoke excellent English--very close to the Wat so the walk only took me about 10 minutes.
As soon as I stepped onto the grounds it was like the chaos of the city went away.
I meandered through broken walls and crumpled towers until I reached the west-facing side, where, to my suprise, I found a fully intact and swathed buddha facing the setting sun. It was surrounded by walls filled with beheaded buddhas, but the look on its face was serene--giving the impression of forgiveness for the destruction around it. I knelt and gave my thanks, then took a few photos. It was my best experience in Ayutthaya. I'm hoping Angkor Wat in Cambodia will be similar.