The Legend of Siam



The Legend of Siam

(travel log)


Travel back through history, to a time where a young nation was just coming of age. Siam, known today as Thailand, was becoming a nation. The land was ruled by warring city states. Then, one king unified the country and the nation of Siam was formed. King Sri Indraditya, in 1238, was a warior-ruler and derived his power through military might. This was then replaced by the Kingdom of Ayutthaya founded by King Ramathibodhi I in 1351. The concept of the king changed. It was now influenced by the Hindu idea that the king was an incarnation of the god Vishnu and he was an enlightened one therefore now basing his power on religious power, his moral power, and his purity of blood. This empire was based in Ayutthaya where they built a grand palace complex that included multiple beautiful temples. Then after centuries of rule from this location, the old palace was sacked and destroyed by their nemesis, the Burmese army. The capital of Siam was then relocated in what is now The Grand Palace of Bangkok.


click the photo to enlarge


Forward to present day, on March of 2017, I was able to visit the grounds of the old palace complex in Ayutthaya. First on the itinerary was the holiest temple in the ancient grand palace complex of Wat Phra Si Sanphet. This was the temple for the royal family and no monks lived here. The Wat (temple) was only for royal ceremonies. The complex is dominated by three chedi which are bell shaped structures that house the ashes of kings. The chedi and other structures in the Wat are unique to the Southeast Asia area and just a wonder to be hold.


click the photo to enlarge


The next stop was Wat Phra Mahathat, another one of the temples commissioned by the many kings throughout the centuries. The temple is made up of many smaller structures that made me feel like I was a part of the movie Tomb Raiders or Indiana Jones. The most famous attraction at this Wat is the head of a buddha that had fallen of its body and entwined in the root of a tree. The roots have grown around the head and the tree has continued to function as it wasn’t there at all.


During the reign of the royal family in Ayutthaya, Siam had conducted trade with the Chinese, Vietnamese, Indians, Japanese, Persians, and later with the Portuguese, Spaniards, Dutch and French. They were all permitted to set up villages outside the palace. During my short time in the ancient grand palace, it was an honor and a privilege to roam the grounds where foreign dignitaries conducted trade with the Siamese. I climbed the steps of the chedi that the royal family once kept to themselves. It was a surreal experience and not one I expected to be able to do. This was a moment in my life that I will look back on fondly. And, thank you for allowing me to show my geeky side and my love of history.