This will be my last post from Thailand, as I have one more day, then fly out tomorrow night. Today was quite extraordinary. My hostess, Chantana, took me to the ancient city of Autthaya, which was founded in 1350 and was the original capital of the Siam Kingdom. It is surrounded by three rivers, which for many years served to protect it. The city is an ancient collection of temples, palaces, and places of administration for the kingdom. In 1767, the city was burned by the Burmese, who then chopped the heads of all the Buddha statues ( a sizable number), and took all the gold. We toured the ruins, which are extensive, and saw the one massive (16 meters, seated), which was reconstructed about 60 years ago. The city is now a UNESCO site, so the ruins are internationally protected, so preserved and maintained as a national park. We walked through three temple sites and the more modern summer palace of the king.
The summer palace consisted of a 46 acre collection of buildings including a very large Chinese pagoda house, light house, large gazebo, massive guest house, shrine to his lost wife and child, and beautiful sculpted gardens, including topiaries of elephants, rabbits (since the king was born in the year of the rabbit), and other animals.
All of the touring occurred in the morning, then we were loaded onto the Shangri La Hotel cruise boat, at which time we enjoyed a beautifully prepared lunch in a beautiful dining room, going along the king's river, on our return to the Shangri La. I went on deck after lunch and watched the extensive amount of boat traffic. There were barges filled with sand and rocks being, four long, being pulled by a single tug, struggling upstream. There are long, slim boats with brilliant colors, flowers to Buddha flying from the bow, crossing back and forth, ferrying passengers to their destinations across the river. There are water taxies in the style of Chinese vending boats, and on and on. Truly busy river.
We returned by subway, after walking four blocks from the hotel, along a narrow sidewalk, where many, many vendors were selling food, clothes, shoes, everything, all at good prices. There were several vendors frying bugs of various sort. Fruit vendors had cut fruit in plastic cups, soups and rice in small plastic bags, and fried anything at all in small paper cups. This is a very busy place, which captures the worker returning from the office on the way home between bus rides or subways, and holds the group together as they finish this part of their day. The smells were so extraordinary, the bustle constant, and the intrigue high. An amazing walk.
After our subway ride, on a clean, rapid, new, quiet subway, we stepped into a quiet, sterile health care environment, that promotes wellness, for a bite to eat with the president of the institute, for whom I conducted workshops these last two weeks. She is a graduate of UNT, a marvelous woman, and a great conversationalist. We talked for two hours shared possible thoughts for future collaborations. What an amazing ending to a terrific day, with the potential to return sometime soon.
I am signing off to pack, ready for my last adventure, and post pictures from today on Facebook. I look forward to seeing Tom in Guatemala City on Sunday morning. I hope all is well for you. Love jt