In 1350, in an attempt to escape smallpox, the king of Siam (now Thailand) settled in Ayutthaya and named it the capitol of his kingdom, making the new city the second capitol in the country's history. For over 400 years the city flourished until the Burmese-Siam wars of the 18th century captured the city, destroyed almost everything meaningful to the Thai culture, and left the city abandoned. You can thank all my last minute middle school book reports for that nice little wrap up.
Fast forward 250 years to today, this place is breathtaking. One of my main reasons for wanting to explore Asia is the sheer age of everything. The oldest thing in or around Washington, DC, where I'm from, is about 1675, give or take a year. In Ayutthaya, I got the chance to touch structures that predate that for almost the same amount of time that my people have even been in the United States of America. I can sit amongst these ruins and imagine what it must have looked like in the city's peak. Or better yet, I would catch myself thinking about the people that laid the bricks even before they formed rooms big enough for a community to worship in.
There aren't any red velvet ropes keeping you back, or guards telling you to move on. Everything is right there, still... for the most part, or the least part, its hard to tell. Temple steps that lead into the open sky, half broken pillars, and so many headless Buddha statues that keeping count got futile after a while.
One head of which, at some point in time, got carried over to a tree and became a part of it over the years. Any day you wish, you can walk amongst these monuments that have the energy of 25 or more generations. Along with a couple from Germany we've been hanging out with, Claudia and Daniel, Eliana & I rented bikes and rode as far as the heat stroke would take us. It's an incredible thing to witness.