Ayutthaya // Wat Chaiwatthanaram
the first temple that we visited on our taxi tour of Ayutthaya was Wat Chaiwatthanaram. to be honest, I hadn't done much research into Ayutthaya beforehand, and all I knew was we were visiting a bunch of old temple ruins. I didn't really know what to expect. the men [Husband and his best friend who was traveling with us] had decided they wanted to visit based on friends' recommendations, and so we went. waking up at 6am on vacation may have made me a little cranky. [ok, let's be honest. any day waking up at 6am makes me cranky.] but as soon as we stepped out of the cab, I was completely enchanted.
when they say these are ruins, they really mean it. the walls still show soot from when the temple was burned, centuries ago. the colorful tiles found on more modern temples have all been stripped away. some parts of the structure have been demolished down to the foundations, bricks stolen away and sold. this temple in particular is having structural issues due to flooding from a monsoon in 2011. they are woking to repair it, but funding is limited and work is slow.
I've always had an interest in archeaolgy. when I was small, I wanted to dig up dinosaurs. when I got a little older, Egyptology fascinated me. I even went so far as to apply for an archeology program when looking at colleges.
the truth is, history fascinates me. but not the names and dates they make you memorize in school. the people, what they did and why they did it, the things they built and where they lived. [in deference to most of the history teachers I know, namely the one I am married to, some students get to learn about this in class.] there's a reason why when I lived in New York, I spent a lot of weekend afternoons at the Met. other than the free air conditioning. I like old things, and I like thinking about what they might have seen over the course of their lifetime.
since we arrived early, we were way ahead of the tour buses full of tourists. the site was practically deserted. even though it was morning, it was a little creepy. walking through the piles of burnt bricks and beheaded buddhas felt like a tragic ghost might pop up at any moment to share their story.
you could feel the history oozing out of the bricks, but we didn't see any ghosts. so after wandering and soaking it all in, we had a little bit of photo fun. [yep, that's us doing an awkward buddha imitation.]
Wat Chaiwatthanaram isn't exceptionally large or unique as far as sites in Ayutthaya go, but for its resilience alone I think it's worth a visit. I mean... anything that can withstand nearly 400 years of fire, floods, invaders, and tourists? that earns some respect in my book.