At the center of Ayutthaya is a busy covered market. Vendors' stands, piled with amulets, fresh fruit, cand discount appliances, curve around an ornate glittering shrine. Among the dark pathways and crowded sidewalks, one can buy kitchen wares, Buddhist antiques, or even small pets. Additionally, the market offers some of the tastiest food in Ayutthaya, served in an atmosphere that is far more engaging than at the town's tourist diners.
In a thin soi between fruit stands and flower stalls, Bordeaux and I found a number of open air kitchens. Feeling adventurous, we simply pointed to the first wok that looked intriguing; minutes later, we were brought a plate of hoy thod, a delicious fried mussel and egg dish.
Our second course was phat thai, a dish that is less adventurous, but was still delicious. To combat the heat of the steamy alley, we ordered two creamy Thai iced teas, which were served frosty in their glass mags.
Toward the end of our meal, a young girl calmly walked through the market crowds toward our table, a clutch of painted wooden birdcages hanging over her shoulder. Inside each cage was a bird, waiting to be purchased and released by a Buddhist person wanting to earn merit. The girl held out one of the cages to one of the market women; inside, a delicate songbird flapped and preened. The woman counted out some baht, and took the birdcage. She opened the cage door, and the bird quickly lept out, disappearing as a fluster of flapping wings into the sky.