Ayutthaya: Happy Birthday Lek

March 11, 2009
Ayutthaya, Thailand

Dear Family and Friends,

I couldn't believe it! Amazing!! It's been four years since that big birthday party for my friend Lek!!! *

I met Lek in Nang Rong where she worked as an Optician. Now she's thirty-four and has been promoted to Branch Manager at a very busy Top Charoen Optical branch in Ayutthaya.

We don't see each other very often so I decided to take the short bus trip up to Ayutthaya to bring her a present and to have dinner.

But first, despite the afternoon heat and my mild medical infirmities at the moment, I hitched up my camera bag and sped away on the back of a motorcycle taxi to explore the ancient wats (temples).

Wat Phra Si Sanphet is noted for its three parallel stupas that rise up amidst the ruins. The Wat is a reminder of the glorious days when Ayutthaya was the capital of Thailand. When London was still a village, Ayutthaya was one of the wealthiest cities in Asia. The envious Burmese sacked the city in 1767.

Wat Phra Ram has several large stupas as well. But the most impressive ruins were the small Buddha figures on display. Most of statues are decapitated but many still have gracefully carved torsos, hands and legs, reminders of the artistry and craftsmanship of the four hundred year Ayutthaya period.

I was soaking wet as I wandered up and around the temple ruins in the 36C, 96.8F heat, taking pictures and chatting with other visitors, mostly young Asians. Then it hit me. "This is what I do!" Is this an affirming moment?

I have been home a lot. My gait is out of balance owing to an ear problem last month. But I am improving slowly, and I always hear my mother's advice to "Get out of the house."

Next month I am booked on a three hour flight to Hong Kong. I will stay six days. Not for shopping. Except, I will be looking at camera equipment. I also plan a day trip to Macau. Not for gambling. Just to see the Portuguese landmarks. (Are my fingers crossed behind my back?)

I was happy to see Lek again. She is always cheerful and animated. Plus she speaks good English so she gets all the English-speaking customers.

So once again, I say "Happy Birthday" to Lek. I must thank her for inviting me to Ayutthaya. This brief trip was cheerful and animated. And affirming, both of my friendship and my traveling spirit.



* Check out Lek's birthday party in Nang Rong four years ago:

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