Today was a special day and one that I had been looking forward to for a long time. Jill and I left Bangkok this morning for a daytrip to the ancient capitol of Ayutthaya. It was about an hour and a half by bus. While there we toured several ruined temples as well as the summer palace for the Thai Royal Family.
Bangkok is actually the third capitol of Thailand. Sukothai was the first until about 1350 when Ayutthaya (Aye U Ta Ya) became the second capital. During the 400 years it served as a capitol for the kingdom, several grand temples were built and these seemed to be irrestible to the Burmese (right next door) who continuously invaded Thailand. Over the centuries, Thailand and Burma went to war 24 times. To hear the Thais tell this story, they won 22 of those wars. Interestingly enough if a Burmese tells about these wars, they won about the same number.
The first ruin we visited was Wat Chaiwatthanaram. This is my favorite as Ray and I visited this place nearly 10 years ago and we were both in awe over it. It is built in the Khmer style (Cambodia) and just looks like an exotic postcard when you arrive.
One of the most memorable aspects of this wat is that so many of the Buddha relics have had their heads chopped off. This was done during the wars between the Burmese and the Thai people as the Burmese knew that there was nothing more offensive than defacing the Buddha. It’s rather haunting to see dozens of these statues lined up in rows…all decapitated…and a memory that Ray and I talked long after we returned from Thailand.
It is because of these shared memories between Ray and I that I decided to leave some of his ashes in this place. I don’t think this is a decision that I will ever regret, and each time I do this, I feel a little relief; the tiniest iota of perhaps letting go. But I do have to tell you that when you start to walk away you feel the most profound sense of lonliness that you can ever imagine. I found myself trying to leave and then turning back toward the spot several times as if I was torn between two worlds. In the pictures above, you can see (white substance) some of the ashes Jill and I left there. In the pictures below, you can see what it looks like standing in that spot. No, I don’t regret this.
Below are just some photos of the other ruins we visited during the day. The highlight was getting onboard a riverboat at 1:00 to return back to Bangkok. What a lovely way to travel. Just as we got on the boat, lunch was served and it started to pour down rain. It rained really hard during lunch which gave it a very memorable feeling. Just after lunch the sky cleared and we had a beautiful trip on the river seeing all the sights along the way. It was truly a day of reliving old memories while making new ones all at the same time.