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Ruins of Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya ThailandMy mind was mulling over a quote from the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It goes like this, “A friend took me to the most amazing place the other day. It’s called the Augusteum. Octavian Augustus built it to house his remains. When the barbarians came they trashed it along with everything else. The great Augustus, Rome’s first true great emperor. How could he have imagined that Rome, the whole world as far as he was concerned, would be in ruins. It’s one of the quietest, loneliest places in Rome. The city has grown up around it over the centuries. It feels like a precious wound, a heartbreak you won’t let go of because it hurts too good. We all want things to stay the same. Settle for living in misery because we’re afraid of change, of things crumbling to ruins. Then I looked at around to this place, at the chaos it has endured – the way it has been adapted, burned, pillaged and found a way to build itself back up again. And I was reassured, maybe my life hasn’t been so chaotic, it’s just the world that is, and the real trap is getting attached to any of it. Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.”

I could have been at the right moment, right time and right place like that of Liz if only I was in Augusteum. But no, I was in Ayutthaya. As my mind digested the depth of the quote, my heart was filled with awe at the magnificence of Ayutthaya. I felt joy beyond words.

It is said that Ayutthaya means “invincible city”. One of UNESCO’s world heritage sites, Ayutthaya was the second capital of the Siamese Kingdom. It was founded in 1350. Within 417 years as the capital of Thailand, Ayutthaya had been ruled by 33 kings of 5 dynasties. It became one of Asia’s economic and trading hubs. It is surrounded with three major rivers, namely the Chao Pharaya, Lop Buri and Pasak. With its beauty as the ruins stand today, I could not imagine how magnificent it had been before the kingdom fell from the Burmese in 1767.

Ayutthaya

Kingdom of Ayutthaya

The first time I visited Ayutthaya was in 2011 with my cousins who came for a few days vacation. A few months after our visit, Thailand was flooded and unfortunately Ayutthaya was among the adversely affected areas. It can be reached after about 1.5-2 hours drive from Bangkok. There used to be an elephant show back then but we were told it was banned now. Good news indeed because I heard baby elephants suffer from torture while being trained to dance, paint, etc. There is also a small floating market about 15 minutes by car from the ruins. Tourists can also pay for an elephant ride at the floating market. The costs vary depending on how many hours you would like to ride.

Elephant riding in Ayutthaya

I may not be in Augusteum but the splendid beauty of Ayutthaya that endured the ravages of time is enough to assure me that indeed, ruins can be a road to transformation. Even if things fall apart, there is still a chance to stand back up again, anew.

Timeless place for a cup of tea

One downside of living in a city like Bangkok is finding a place to unwind or read that can give me both a homey environment with lots of plants around and the luxury of having a cup of tea. Luckily there’s Agalico that offers Bangkokers the feeling that they’re just in their home’s patio or garden, savoring the serenity of the weekend.

True to its reviews, Agalico indeed feels like being in a Jane Austen book. Although I brought The Great Gatsby when I went there. It has a gazebo near the fountain which I think will be a very nice pre-nuptial shooting location.

Agalico is not just for people who wants to find solitude and escape reality through a good book or for writers who need a place that brings out inspiration and creativity. In other words, people like me. Actually, I think most people go there to enjoy a cup of tea with friends and family. So next time if I get an invitation for meet-ups, I already know where to take my friends.

Its white interior is as breathtaking as the garden outside. It’s a very elegant and classy English-style living room. I was stunned the moment I stepped inside. Agalico has a wide-variety of imported tea to choose from. They also serve scones and cakes.

Unfortunately, Agalico is only open every Friday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm. You can reach there by taking the train to Thong Lor station. Take Exit 1 and walk towards Sukhumvit Soi 51. The building is the first at the right side after you enter Soi 51. You can also call them at 02 662 5857 ext 111.

Dalad Vietnamese restaurant for vegetarians in Bangkok

Finding a good place to dine in a city swarmed with restaurants might be a little challenging especially if you are a vegetarian, organizing a get-together that includes vegetarians or simply finding an affordable restaurant with a taste of Asian dish, not crowded and has a cozy ambiance. If you find yourself in this dilemma, fret not for Dalad Vietnamese Restaurant offers you more than these.

Last week I organized a get-together dinner for a former colleague visiting Bangkok. It was my first time to organize a dinner for our group and aside from that, there are two vegetarians and many are health-conscious. And since Sharmila was living in Jordan for over 2 years, I was thinking of having the dinner in a restaurant with Asian cuisine. Finally, I decided to just call and ask her if there is any place she would like to eat before leaving to Jakarta where she will be based in the next couple of years. She chose Dalad Vietnamese Restaurant, and I couldn’t be more happy.

Dalad is a small restaurant in Soi Ari. I recommend you make a booking few days before going to ensure that you get a space. You can call them at (66)2 271 2109 or email at daladvietnamese@hotmail.com.

Since the restaurant is a bit small, it is ideal for a group dinner. This way, your group will be occupying most of the space and it will give you a sense of privacy even if there are a few other customers around.

Dalad exudes a comfy and relaxing ambiance. Their menu offers a wide array of choices and the food are not only super delicious, they are also very affordable. For our group of 12, we only paid 160 Baht each and that includes both food and drinks!