13 July 2012

Travel to Thailand

Welcome back. A short while ago, I featured a tasty guest blog post on Thailand by John Lukens. Why, I wondered, haven’t I written my own Thailand travel post? I rushed off, found my 35-mm slides of Thailand and dug out the project file from an unlabeled box in the guest room closet. I can now state unequivocally: yes, I was definitely there. 
Foreign Travel
I don’t know how much or often you travel, but I haven’t left the U.S. since the mid-1980s. Wait, that’s not entirely true. Visiting Niagara Falls, we walked across to Canada so our young son could not only see the falls from both sides of the border but also claim international experience, albeit at the closest souvenir shop. 
Aerial photograph of Thailand, exact
whereabouts to be determined, 1986.

For my final foreign fling, I boarded a plane at JFK International Airport one day and returned 22 days later. Squeezed into those three weeks was a whirlwind UN project, touching base with organizations in five Asian countries.

The project report a colleague and I produced is quite detailed. Yet, the only notes I seem to have taken were about my two days in New York City before departing for Bangkok. And those notes were cryptic--names of the contacts, summary terms of reference, complaints about the hotel.

(The hotel room had a loud air conditioner, a louder guest in the next room, and a front desk that did nothing to silence that guest’s TV when I finally called for help at 1:30 AM. If you contact me, I’ll gladly take revenge by naming the hotel, though the years might have made a difference. That guest is probably gone.)

Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Ayutthaya
Historical Park, Thailand, 1986.
I won’t drag you to Bangkok, Beijing, Bangkok, Kathmandu, Dhaka, Bangkok, Jakarta, Bangkok and back to New York, especially since there was little or no touring in most of the countries. I don’t even have photos from some of the stops, and I’m still determining what’s in the photos I do have.
Stupas of Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Ayutthaya
Historical Park, Thailand, 1986.
In Bangkok one day, we did take a break and drove about 50 miles north to visit the Ayutthaya Historical Park. Although I’m only now getting a full sense of the site--thank you, Internet--I recommend you add Ayutthaya to your must-see list if you have the opportunity to visit Thailand. (Websites that I drew from are listed below.)
Located in the Chao Phraya River valley, Ayutthaya was founded in 1350 by King U Thong (also known as Ramathibodi I) to be the capital of his Ayutthaya or Siam Kingdom. The city’s population may have reached one million around the year 1700. 

The original city was destroyed by the Burmese in 1767, and the site is now the Ayutthaya Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991. 

Near the center of the main area of the former city stands Wat Phra Si Sanphet, a temple built by King Boromatrailokanat in 1448. It was reportedly one of the grandest temples in the capital and is one of the best preserved. Its three main stupas (chedis or prangs) contain the remains of three kings.
A Wat Phra Si Sanphet stupa,
Ayutthaya Historical Park,
Thailand, 1986.

Wrap Up

If I ever get my slides straight, I’ll tell you more about the three week adventure. At least I could tell you more about New York City and falling asleep during a Broadway show. That’s happened before.

Thanks for stopping by.


Among websites on Ayutthaya and Wat-Phra-Si-Sanphet are the following:

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