I wasn’t kidding yesterday about being in Buddha overdrive.  If there are a million Buddha statues in Bangkok, I’ve probably seen 999,999 of them.  First there’s the colossal reclining golden Buddha at Wat Pho that measures a whopping 46 meters long.  His feet alone measure 3 meters long and are inlaid with mother-of-pearl illustrations of laksanas.  He is completely covered in gold leaf.


Then there is the world’s largest seated golden Buddha at Wat Traimit. He clocks in at an impressive 5 meters in height and 5.5 tons in weight:


And then more golden Buddhas in various incarnations:


Once in a while there is also the rare walking Buddha:


But my favorite Buddha moments were found at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ayutthaya, which can be easily reached on a day or even half day trip from Bangkok city center. 


Once a thriving cultural, political and religious capital,  Ayutthaya now stands in its own shadow as ruins, a sad reminder of defeat at the hands of the Burmese in 1756.  Rows of headless Buddhas leave a disturbing, haunting image in my mind:


It is also here in Ayutthaya that you find the mystical Buddha nestled in tree roots:


I’m not a student of religion but this place still moves me to pay homage with the other pilgrims. I’m not really sure what to do so I just follow the ladies who now congregate in this area. First you must take off your shoes then enter the shrine area to prepare some incense…


then you approach the large reclining, smiling Buddha and proceed to scrape the gold leaf off of him…


Hold on a second here, that hardly seems right?  I really thought they were just going to pray in front of the statue but I sneak a peak and the ladies are furiously going at it, scraping against the gold leaf.  Something is obviously lost in the translation for me, so I slowly back away and go look for my shoes.

And then I ditch my tour group and hitch a ride with the tour guide’s sister’s brother-in-law to go ride elephants on bare back. OK, OK, it turns out to be a baby elephant, but elephant nevertheless. 


As I recently confessed, show me anything motorized or half-way fast and I can be entertained for quite some time.


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