Day 18, uthai Thani To ayutthaya

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Our hotel last night had a unique fish bowl: an old TV on an even older sewing machine stand!

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Today we biked past markets and agricultural areas. Look at the length of these long beans!!

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Our first cultural stop was at a knifemaker’s workshop.

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Young men apprenticed to become master knife makers.

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Lots of careful hand work.

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Fitting bone handles  to the steel blade very precisely. Tempered steel comes from the US.

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Rasping until smooth.

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The handles on the left are made from stingray skin.

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Pretty finished handle. Destined for the US. Here these knives are worth 15,000 baht or about $500 USD.

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The owner (on the right), Suchat Jangtanong,  has a total of five shops like this in the area. He is recognized worldwide for his unique knife art.

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His home is attached to this shop.

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Today was sunny and hazy with smoke again. Our ride began to the sound of chanting Buddhist monks—lovely. We rode riverside much of the way, where the Sakaekrung and Chao Phraya Rivers meet.

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More freshwater fish rearing on the river.

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Look like coy from here but we understand they are tilapia.

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Garbage collection including careful recycling was underway today.

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Thais love their trucks just like Americans! We heard happy party sounds as we came upon a wedding celebration this morning.

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Here was the band: a drummer, vocalist, and two guitars. And a great beat!

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It was 9:00 a.m. and everyone was having a great time!

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The groomsmen were leading the dancing.

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MJ was asked to dance by  a party goer. She tried to mimic his moves.

See MJ dance movie here.

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Earlier today the bride and groom had been blessed by a monk and completed a traditional ceremony here with him.

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The formal wedding portrait—with combines!

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The whole village was invited to the wedding and party. Everyone was very nice to us, including this man!

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We pulled ourselves out of the party after enjoying a few songs and dances. Just down the road we saw our first paddock filled with goats!

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Lots of rice today, all around. Looks healthy! Woody told us that rice farmers typically have three harvests per year.

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A fellow cyclist along the way.

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We had been biking on a big island called Thepho Island. We used a ferry to cross back to the other side.

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The ferry was propelled by a V6 engine connected to a shaft with a prop at the end. It swiveled on a pivot point to steer the ferry boat.

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On our way! 13 cyclists and one motor bike!

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On the other side of the river was a big temple and school complex. No kisses the temple (that was our interpretation but the sign really means to be quiet). And no Michael Jackson moves, Woody joked! (Actually that means no hats!)

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For those of us from Wisconsin, the inside of the temple reminded us of Menard’s stores during the Christmas season!

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MJ decided to make a 100 baht donation. It would provide a few supplies for the monks. Woody helps set things up right for her.

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Food and other things monks need!

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First she had to pray or meditate about something important to her…

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Then she presented the gifts to the monk.

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He gave her a little amulet. When MJ said “thank you” in Thai (one of two phrases she has learned) the monk said, surprised, “She speaks Thai!”

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The grounds of the temple and school had many many Buddhas. This is the Buddha of the apartment building!?!

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A new structure was being built around these three monk statues.

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This is either the steepest road in the world or the steepest downhill ski jump. (Except that we are in Thailand in winter where it is 95 degrees F!) The hill was covered in bamboo, which has turned yellow during its dormant season.

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Again we see lots of engineering to manage the rivers, such as this lock.

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We had a great lunch in Chai Nat at this restaurant, with the best Pad Thai in the area!

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Kitchen staff hard at work preparing our lunch.

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The owner wanted a photo with our group. We find this happens a lot– restaurant owners are delighted to have us and are very curious about our travels.

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After lunch we had a two hour van ride to our hotel for the night in Ayutthaya. Along the way we stopped to see the largest Buddha in Thailand at Wat Pa Mok.

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Buddha was covered with a giant orange quilt. If you made a big donation, you could write a message on a quilt square.

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The grounds around the Buddha had a thriving market. Including a snack of alligator meat or a decorative head to take home!

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