We have just spent two wonderful days in Sukothai, the ancient capital city of what is now Thailand over 700 years ago. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is situated towards the north of Thailand, about 3 hours south of Chiang Mai and is a beautifully well kept historical park. It has taken me 15 years to finally get to Sukothai but it was well worth the wait, the long drive and the bucket of ice cold water. A late convert to and now sponge of history (once arguing that geography was far more important than history) I found myself in my element walking among the temple ruins and imagining what life was like in this royal capital many centuries ago and what has happened over time for it to be in the varied states we now find it. My oldest son asked me why the capital city was built here and not originally in Bangkok – a good question and a perfect way to bring geography and history together, as they should be. We walked around together looking at the physical landscape and setting that we were in and discussed what made this particular place an effective site and situation for such an important city many years ago.
Photos are a great way of capturing what you see when visiting places like Sukothai. Everyone has a different perspective and interprets the ancient designs and structures in different ways and a digital camera is perfect for capturing your own favourite observations and intricacies. I also like watching other people and seeing what they are photographing and working out how they are interpreting the complex patterns and capturing their experience the best way they can on camera. It is even better when a random monk appears and everyone tries to capture that perfect monk shot walking through the temple grounds as if nobody else is anywhere to be seen! I bet you have all tried it…
Then there are those of us that are more traditional (or young and bold) and want to capture their experience and perspectives on paper. I remember when I used to like to draw and use colour to bring out pictures that I had created. When I made the time to sit still in one place and really take in the landscape and environment that I was observing. It is so much easier to snap away with the digital device though and do it the saturation way – one of them will surely be good! But am I cheating myself out of what is really important? Should I be challenging myself to embrace this unique cultural and historical context and dig deeper into my hidden and forgotten abilities and develop an even more personal relationship with the moment and make a connection? It is only now writing this blog and looking back at the photos, especially of Jonah sketching, that I wish that I had sat down and taken more time – a couple of sketches or even a poem – I know I have it in me (I could have posted them – target to oneself: I will next time!).
I want my children to embrace the artist in them as often as possible as they experience life, to draw on their feelings and emotions to produce work that has passion and is important and meaningful to them and will help them to remember and capture the importance of that particular moment.
Or you can always drive a tuk tuk!!