Our Asia Editor brings us to the former capital of Thailand, once one of the biggest cities in the world, today mostly forgotten






Mike Ragsdale, entrepreneur, owner of Beach Happy magazine and, editor and writer extraordinaire, and, perhaps most importantly, an incurable adventurer, has signed on to be our Asia Editor. We — WONDERLUST, and all of humanity really— are richer for that.


In his first video report, Mike and his wife Angela traverse the ancient Thai city of Ayutthaya. Built in 1350, and becoming the new capital of the then Kingdom of Siam, it thrived for over four hundred years as a trading and cultural center of Asia, situated pretty much equally between China and India. It was also in a strategically valuable location, in the middle of three rivers connecting to but above the Gulf of Siam and so not attackable by enemy ships.


The Burmese, nonetheless, harshed their mellow by sacking the city in 1767, and burning it to the ground. It was never rebuilt and today is an UNESCO World Heritage site.


Amazingly well preserved, giant Prang — reliquary towers that look like ancient skyscrapers, although they weren’t habitated as such — rise above the ruins.  Mostly intact temples and vast monasteries, some empty and many others active, anchor the landscape of what is a unique, understated and certainly not over visited tourist destination.



A Buddha head peeks out from the surreal roots of a tree Photo provided by Wonderlust



“In this episode, we share the fascinating story of Ayutthaya,” says Mike. “This short video transports you to the sweltering heart of Thailand, revealing an almost forgotten civilization. We highlight the city’s architectural marvels and the artistic blend of various cultures, its spiritual centers, and its symbols of power.” 


Today the city’s population, which lives around the approximately 290 Hectare archeological site, is about 60,000 — far from the million people who lived here in the Middle Ages. There are many restaurants and cafes and places to stay, some for as cheap as $6 a night, with the expensive rooms, like at the Sala, at $200 a night. “We stayed at the Sala, right on the river, with views of the ruins,” says Mike. “But you can get a very nice room, including breakfast, for $40 per night.”


Mike, moved by visiting the lost city, sums it up: “Despite its tragic end, Ayutthaya’s modern-day landscape is portrayed as a celebration of its history and co-exists harmoniously with the present.”