Ayutthaya ReduxFebruary 18 in Thailand ⋅ ☁️ 30 °C
I decided to return to the ancient capital of Ayutthaya, almost a year after my first visit. (See this site, the trip “Thailand Challenge,” footprint “My Heart Remains in Ayutthaya.”) I wanted to stay at my former Airbnb property, with Nick, the brilliant cook, and Tom, her Russian husband, and Thai language expert—to catch up, get ideas for my studies, and roam around in a relaxed manner.
I enjoyed biking to the beautiful ruins again, mourning the destruction of what must have been a sumptuous capital. Those awful Burmese—they just wouldn’t stop invading and conquering kingdoms in Thailand—Sukhothai, Lanna, Ayutthaya.
There are two National Museums in Ayutthaya. This year I went to the smaller of the two, which features a very precious collection of antiquities donated by Mr. Praya Botan Rajatanin, housed in what was formally a residence for royalty traveling to Ayutthaya in the late 19th century. I enjoyed it, as it was a very understated royal residence, as such things go, and the collection of Buddhist statues, religious relics, and other historical items was small and well-chosen.
I was told by Tom to go visit the Phananchoen Temple, in the southeast corner of the historic area—a Chinese temple with an enormous gold Buddha and an excellent library of ancient Buddhist texts. It took me two days to find it, as I let myself be led astray to walk wherever my curiosity led me, but finally, there I was. Yes, indeed there was a truly giant Buddha, shining in gold, and very impressive. But where was the library? I asked four people, then a fifth and a sixth—but no one knew. Finally a kind monk visiting from Bangkok asked someone for me, and the answer was, “It’s under repair,” and that was the end of that. But not quite. The monk sent me an article and a YouTube clip showing the demise of the library in a terrible fire in April, 2012. The news was barely mentioned at the time, and now seems completely forgotten. An unimaginable tragedy. Here is link to the video of the fire: https://youtu.be/pighMrD9UAg
Ayutthaya offered me many opportunities to really practice my Thai. I took my breakfasts and dinners at Tom and Nick’s restaurant, and Tom kindly steered some of his regular Thai customers to my table to sit down and have a chat! And of course my street shenanigans never stopped. All in all, it was a very very pleasant stay.
I was horrified when my plane descended into the black smoke and pollution covering Chiang Mai, but hey! I was home, and glad to get back to my routine.
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