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.

Becoming the monster I abhor

Plato quoteA friend introduced me to her colleagues who were visiting Bangkok over the weekend. One of my joys being away from home is to meet old and new friends visiting Bangkok. Touring them around is also my way of getting to know Thailand better.

All of them –my friend’s colleagues—were nice and fun to be with. But one of them is just extra warm, it’s like her heart is full of kindness which radiates from her sweet smile and soft voice. She’s the oldest among the group, much like our mother. But really, I felt so at ease around her that I couldn’t help but mention it to my friend. That’s when I heard an interesting story.

My friend said that she has never really spoken to that lady except for work-related matters. “People say her personality used to be like that, kind and loving. But she suddenly changed about two years ago. They say she suddenly became aloof. She doesn’t talk to people anymore except for work. Even after meetings, she doesn’t join her colleagues for a cup of coffee. She became strict and unfriendly, very opposite to what she used to be. Even people who have been so close to her, who have worked with her for over 10 years couldn’t understand what has gone wrong with her. She was like that for two years and now she is back to how she used to be, kind and friendly.

I got curious. I told my friend; maybe that lady has gone through very challenging trials in her life. And tough times always bring out the worst in us. And I smiled at the thought that I had my own share of unleashing the monster in me.

I hate confrontations. Whenever I encounter misunderstandings with people, I would opt to stay quiet and not defend myself even if that means I have to take the blame. I could not speak out for myself because sometimes it would mean revealing the other person’s mistake and I could not stand that a person is humiliated or hurt because of me.

My colleague once told me, “nobody can stand up for you except yourself. You can’t just let people abuse you.” I also read somewhere that staying silent and suppressing your emotions is not good. It will eventually take its toll on your health. But I was stubborn. Until one day, I just lose it.


I was overly stressed at work and was facing a lot of problems in my personal life too. I had been suffering from insomnia and I couldn’t eat well. I just don’t have the appetite for any food. I knew something was wrong with me. I was aware that I was not being myself. I just don’t know how to stop the negativities. I cannot decide whether I have obsessive-compulsive disorder or bipolar disorder (see, I have already made my own psychological diagnosis hahaha). Kidding aside, I knew now that I could have been better if I had enough sleep then.

But anyway, in that not-so-good episode of my life, I turned into the monster I abhor. I made this stupid argument with someone and ended up saying words I could not imagine coming out from me. Now that I’m over those dark hours of my life, whenever I think about it, I would regret why I had not dealt with the negative situation positively. But regrets don’t come first and feeling it would not help either.

I believe that the first step to move on is to forgive ourselves and accept that we are just humans; we are not perfect and we are bound to commit mistakes. Like what Rahim Khan said in the book The Kite Runner, “there’s a way to be good again”.

People who we see as bad, people who are cruel and unkind are people who are hurting inside. They need our understanding and love, not our hatred and scrutiny. And when this happens to us, let us not forget to appreciate those people who stayed by our side, the people who never gave up believing in us when the rest of the world slummed its doors.

Longings of my heart

Cup of tea with lemon and honey

Enjoying my cup of tea. I love weekends like this!

My work had been hectic this whole month of August. After our communications workshop in Tagaytay, Philippines in July, I went home for an 11-day vacation. When I came back in the office, I was swamped with emails, reports and articles to write, and meetings which seemed like an everyday affair.

Yesterday I was writing a report then decided to take a 10-minute break to just breathe and do some stretching. I suddenly felt a longing for some creative activities. But no, not only that, I longed for the tranquility of a slow-paced lifestyle I once enjoyed when work was still not as busy as now. These days I normally go home after 6PM even if work finish at 5:30.

I miss photography. Before, I only had my pink Sony digital camera. But with the limitations of digital cameras, I decided to get a DSLR. However when I got my Nikon D3100, that was when work started to get busier. I hardly find time to take photos, much more, learn the technicalities of photography.

I miss drawing. Well, I was never really into drawing. That was only my childhood hobby. But I started drawing again in 2011 and to date I only managed to draw four. Although sometimes, I just feel like doodling or painting. Unfortunately, when that craving hits me, I’m usually out of the house or in the middle of work so I don’t get to sit and draw.

I miss yoga. I have been fascinated with yoga since the first time I knew about it. I joined a class in February but a lot of travels in Thailand and abroad followed after I finished the beginner’s class. But I’m thinking of enrolling in another session soon, hopefully I will find the time.


I miss writing. I’ve been wanting to write about my recent travels but somehow, I find it hard to write when I don’t feel like writing. I know, I read it several times that writers shouldn’t wait until they feel the urge to write. But my few attempts in the past all failed. I haven’t gone past staring at an empty page and a blinking cursor.

I miss those weekends when I’d just enjoy a cup of tea and a good book or watch a documentary and news on BBC. Although my long train rides to and from work every day enables me to read, still it’s different when the environment is more relaxed and quiet.

Sometimes, we tend to get so overwhelmed by our fast-paced lifestyle. Worse, we are inundated with technology that at times we forget to even appreciate the aroma of coffee or the warm hug of our loved ones. So today, I decided to refuel my soul by not working; by letting go of the chattering in my head. I will be still and enjoy a cup of tea; savor the serenity of a relaxing Saturday and be thankful for the gift of life. I will hold my camera and write again. Sometimes, we just have to stop planning and wanting, and instead start doing. Happy weekend 🙂