|"The construction of the buildings nowadays brings fame to its builders only, but archaeological
sites bring honour to the Nation. Even a brick is valuable. We all should conserve them. If we don't
have Sukhothai, Ayutthaya and Bangkok, Thailand has nothing left."
(His Majesty King Bhumipol's speech when he presided over the opening ceremony of the Chao Sam
Phraya National museum in Ayutthaya in 1961.)
In August 2008 two Lowlanders decided to do something about their physical condition and planned some regular walks in and around Ayutthaya. As it
was nice to have an objective when walking, they agreed on making temple visits. One of the Lowlanders took a photograph of a map of Phraya Boran
Rachathanin hanging on a wall at the vihara of Mongkhon Bophit and as thus the framework was set for a real temple hunt. Three months passed by and
more and more sites were tracked, visited and crossed out on Phraya Boran's photo paper.
In November of the same year, the Lowlanders encountered, after one of their temple walks, an American teacher in "Farang Street". The latter was also
very keen on Ayutthaya's temples and ruins, even to the point that he had colored with a pencil, Phraya's map. The teacher was invited to join the
Lowlanders on their weekly temple chase. Work became more serious. Reconnaissance reports were drafted by the youngest Lowlander in order to get
pace of the situation and distributed among the team.
In December near Wat Kamphaeng, a temple ruin along the west bank of Khlong Sra Bua, plans were made to create a website in order to post all
knowledge gathered during their walking sessions. A site needed a name, so "Ayutthaya Historical Research" was born. A logo was quickly drawn
based on Bellin's map of Ayutthaya. The site was created somewhere end December on Geocities.com. The hunt became harsher and harsher, raw
information was collected and web pages on temples and ruins created.
In March 2009, Geocities stopped their website providing services and the whole AHR website had to be moved to a new provider. The youngest
Lowlander bought a domain name and recreated a website: Ayutthaya-History.com. After a month the historical site was back on-line.
During the rainy season of 2009, the oldest Lowlander took his leave, while the rest of the team continued their weekly excursions. Walking became biking
and a number of bicycle routes along the most important temples and historical places appeared on the site. Begin 2010, the American teacher looked into
new horizons and halted its contributions to the AHR site. The Lowlander kept on going and the site became what it is now...
Tricky Vandenberg is the writer's name of the youngest Lowlander. He lived a number of years abroad in the Middle East, the Asian sub-continent and
Africa, working in conflict zones such as the Golan Heights, Kashmir, Central Africa and Africa's Horn under the flag of the United Nations. Vandenberg
used Thailand since the late seventies as a main hub for travel all over Asia and is quite acquainted with the country.
Presently a retired fellow, he got a deep interest and fascination in Siamese history, after reading “A History of Siam” written by William A.R. Wood (1924),
a former Consul General in Chiangmai. Tasked by the ghosts of the thousands of souls perished on the battlefields in and around the historical city of
Ayutthaya, he studies and gathers the maximum of knowledge on the former Siamese capital’s history in order to build a major historical web site. As his
mother tongue is relatively not wide spread, he used his third language to write the AHR website.
But why a major historical site on Ayutthaya? In depth information on Ayutthaya and its cultural heritage in English is rather scarce on the Internet. The aim is
to gather and publish a maximum of information on historical sites in and around the city of Ayutthaya in order to facilitate and encourage the level of public
awareness and support, necessary for the long-term survival of Ayutthaya's cultural heritage. Information is gathered by studying books, theses, chronicles,
documents and reports available through open sources, as well as by site visits and interviews of local villagers.
The first objective of his quest was to locate, visit and catalog (site survey) the remnants of the more of four hundred temples in and around the city island of
Ayutthaya; a number the Dutch Merchant Jeremias Van Vliet mentioned in his "Description of the Kingdom of Siam" written in 1638. Many of them are only
brick and dirt mounds, although with a story; remnants which will vanish in time. This objective will be finally reached at the end of the rainy season 2010.
The next objective will be to locate and describe extensively all the remaining historical sites as palaces, forts and land gates within the Ayutthaya
municipality and to elaborate on the former water canals, water gates, bridges and streets; especially the ones mentioned in the old chronicles of the city.
Once the study of Phraya Boran Rachathanin's works finalized, other objectives are awaiting.
Vandenberg is also attracted to sport as much of his career was spent in an adventurous framework. He decided to combine the writing with a bit of physical
action, and linked the latter to Ayutthaya's history by finding ways to walk, bike and kayak all the historical places. This linkage - in co-operation with
RouteYou.com can now be found on the site: walking and bicycling routes, kayak and boat tracks; printable or up-loadable tracks for your Mobile or GPS.
Ken May lives a nomadic lifestyle that has lead to his teaching and traveling across the globe. He eventually landed in Thailand in the year 2000 to instruct
tourism studies students at the Rajaphat University Phra Nakorn Sri Ayutthaya. And this is how the Ayutthaya Temple Project began.
Estimates suggest that there are over 400 temples in Ayutthaya, but most are off-the-beaten track and difficult to find. While walking, bicycling, and boating
around town, he was overwhelmed by how the modern city had grown around ancient sites. The architectural skeletons of Ayutthaya's ancient past are often
stumbled across accidentally. Traces of these abandoned ruins can be seen peeking out from behind apartment buildings, elementary schools, government
offices, and overgrown jungles.
Raw curiosity was the primary motivation. Ken May wanted to track down every one of these temples, as well as the old canals, and learn more about the
ancient city from what remains. Unfortunately and surprisingly, few locals in the city know anything about these ruins. The Ayutthaya Temple Project was,
therefore, an attempt to engage students, expatriates, and other community members into taking more interest in these sites while conducting and sharing their
Ken May has had approximately 50 articles printed in the Bangkok Post - mostly focusing on education and travel. He has also published two travel-related
books. His earlier research about temple ruins, The Deserted Temples in Ayutthaya, was published by the Ayutthaya Studies Institute in 2008; and Post
Books released Road Rash: Western Tourists and Expatriates at Play in Asia's Global Village in 2002. Both books have now been entirely sold out.
Additionally, he has contributed nearly 50 articles to a combination of popular websites and international guidebooks.
He has a BA in Liberal Arts, an Area Studies Certificate in International Development, and a Master's Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. His fields of study
included sociology, anthropology, history, gender studies, journalism, and English.
Ken May contributed about 130 stunning pages, covering a number of temples, ruins and historical places in Ayutthaya to the AHR web site. His
last contribution dates from begin 2010.
Web Site Evaluation
Etienne Vandenheuvel, another Lowlander, sportsman and professional network manager responsible for a huge data center in Belgium, became our
AHR web site evaluator. As the site grows and functional problems from time to time occur, he agreed in July 2010 to check the good working of the site
and to report all web page configuration and other technical problems. Etienne will also help in advising on site lay-out, improving its usability and