US State Department Funds Thai Monument Restoration

The United States State Department’s Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation recently bestowed a $131,800 grant to the World Monuments Fund for restoration work at Wat Chaiwatthanaram, a historic Buddhist temple in Ayutthaya, Thailand.

According to WMF President Bonnie Burnham, “Support from the State Department’s Ambassadors Fund will assist the Thai Department of Fine Arts with continuing efforts to protect the site in light of increasingly severe flooding in the region and will advance conservation activities at the temple.”

Founded in 1350, Ayutthaya was once the capital of the Thai Kingdom of Ayutthaya, better known as Siam. For several hundred years, Ayutthaya flourished as one of the world’s largest cities, until it was sacked by the Burmese in 1767.

Today, the remnants of the city are classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, the elements have taken its toll on Ayutthaya’s ancient Buddhist temples and monuments, particularly the widespread flooding that devastated much of the country in 2011. Restoration on the monuments began in 2012, and the project is ongoing.

Correction, 2/19: This article initially stated that the grant was bestowed to the Thai government. It was in fact provided to the World Monuments Fund.[Photo Credit: World Monuments Fund]

Thailand Audio Tours

I lived in Bangkok briefly back in the mid-90s and remember the city as a buzzing, cacophonous, traffic-clogged metropolis where anything went. That is, as I once put it to a fiend: Bangkok is not a city for the undisciplined. I spent many an hour walking Bangkok’s dirty-foul smelling streets and wandering down blind alleys in search of interesting things to see and, well, to eat. Needless to say, I found many of each on every little expedition.

Now, it seems, given the benefits of technology, my meanderings would be somewhat enhanced…depending on how you look at it. A company has put together Bangkok walking tours called Siam Soundtrek that take you along historical, cultural and musical ambles through the city’s streets. The music helps carry along the narrative, which goes impressively deep. Now, you’re not going to meet a lot of interesting people if you walk around the city with headphones on, but these tours might be a nice way to start out in the city or for tourists who just want to get acquainted with the city in a short period of time.