Once a Visiting Student, Now a Site Conservator
In this blog post, Khun Apple talks about her destiny of returning to her hometown of Ayutthaya to work as a conservator in Wat Chaiwatthanaram.
When I was five years old I moved to Ayutthaya. That means I have a long relationship with the archaeological site of Wat Chaiwatthanaram, where I often visited as a student and on holidays. It’s still a tradition for school groups to visit the site, and every week day we see hundreds pass by our work site at one of Wat Chaiwatthanaram’s unique architectural structures, Meru C3. Wat Chaiwatthanaram is not just beautiful in the day: one of my favorite things to do, and popular for Thai and foreign tourists alike, is a nighttime boat tour around Ayutthaya Island. One of the most memorable moments is as you pass by Wat Chaiwatthanaram and see its central prang and surrounding towers lit up. As an added bonus, the night brings out the barn owls that live in Wat Chaiwatthanaram and they can be seen providing an aerial show in and out of the lights.
All of those childhood memories, yet I never imagined that someday I would find myself working at Wat Chaiwatthanaram as a conservator for World Monuments Fund! It feels like a dream: getting to preserve and protect one of Thailand’s greatest symbols, while working toward my Buddhist faith – the best of all worlds. Conservation work is opening up a new career possibility too, and one that requires me to get serious, as I was never able to stay still for too long— cleaning Buddha images requires concentration, while keeping the wall paintings from fading away requires a steady hand.
According to Buddhist faith in Thailand, conservation work and temple restoration is dedicated to the Lord Buddha. Another Buddhist concept is the cycle of life, previous, current, and next (like yesterday, today and tomorrow). If today I do good deeds, tomorrow I will have a good day. And after death, my spirit will go to heaven or if I’m born once again, I will be born with a complete body, have a good life without any bad luck and pitfall because of the merits I have made.
Moreover, our spirits are also bound to the places where we were born, lived, and made good deeds in the previous lives. After my studies and working around the country, I think it I was destined to come back to my home in Ayutthaya. When I see the visiting school groups, I think of my past, and I am very proud to now care and restore Wat Chaiwatthanaram, both as a religious contribution and homage to our ancestors who created this priceless cultural heritage for future generations of school students.