Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra
An experience from 8 years ago almost lost in my memory… revived through photos.
In 1984, some ancient tablets were found at a site about 5km from Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. Archaelogists went to work and uncovered the ancient lost city of ‘Wiang Kum Kam’.
Over 30 structures of this settlement of what once once the capital of King Mangrai’s kingdom in the 13th century have since been discovered.
It is said that the Burmese took over the area in the mid 16th century and later at some point floods engulfed the area leading to ruin and subsequent abandonment. Then about 200 years ago, people began to resettle in the region and that finally led to its discovery in 1984.
About 8 years ago, on a trip to ChiangMai, a novice traveler, unprepared, unwise and generally clueless, I asked my tuk-tuk driver to take me to some “interesting place” and he took me to the ruins. What a sketchy brief I had given him and what a phenomenal place he took me to!
We parked at the taxi stand and from there I rode through most of the structures in a horse-drawn cart as cars were not allowed inside. The cart driver and I shared no common language so all I did was to observe and experience.
I was the only visitor amidst those ruins.
The golden sunlight, the pin-drop silence of the place, the absence of life, the presence of history,made it easy to hear faint echos of the conversations of the kings & queens and the people who had filled these slim red brick structures with life. It was easy to imagine the chaos of conflict with the Burmese and then the complete devastation that followed the floods. Living that experience through imagination was so easy in those few minutes that I stood there soaking in the golden sun and the wistful reminiscent atmosphere.
I was there for less than an hour and yet the ephimereal atmosphere seeped into my soul – so much so that I can recreate the entire aura in my head as I see these photos today.
The cart driver was in a hurry and would have liked to be stricter with me getting down at every structure and walking around but I could not help getting attracting to the melted candle wax on one of the buildings. It was the only sign of recent life there.
Now I feel like a complete fool for going to such a magnificent place without reading up. The experience could have been magnified many times over if only I knew what I was seeing.
Sadly I know that it is almost certain that I will never go back there. There are simply too many experiences that have not been done even once – so to do something twice is a luxury I cannot afford.
My wealth of time is simply not vast enough.