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St Andrews Samakee Year 3 - History Hunters in Ayutthaya.

26-27 January 2017

Twenty-nine Year 3 students picked up their magnifying glasses and joined the Barge Program staff for a two- day trip to become History Hunters in Ayutthaya. Their mission was to explore the ancient historical sites and discover how people lived in the ancient capital to compare past and present lifestyles.

Starting the day at Fort Pom Phet students conducted river observations to learn about modern uses of the Chao Phraya and life on its river banks. A trip to the Historical Studies Centre offered a chance to see how the rivers uses have changed over time and discover more about the thriving trading centre, daily life and traditional medicines used by Ayutthayians and the visiting traders 300 years ago.

Following their research it was time to visit Wat Phra Sri Sanphet where a photographic scavenger hunt produced plenty of evidence of the age of the temple, the building materials used in its construction, sacred areas within the grounds, including the ordination hall protected by the ancient Sema stones and the 3 giant Chedis housing the ashes of King Borommatrialokanat and his father and eldest brother.

Preparing for the photo scavenger hunt

Evidence of the sacred barrier protecting the ordination hall – the sema stones

Day 1 ended back on the Chao Phraya, or at least an imaginary version, with students discovering how their modern lifestyles impact the river by adding phosphates, fertilizers, chlorine, oil and sediment (aka bubble bath, green food colouring, cooking oil, blue food colouring and mud!) to the water to help them visualise the impacts on the water and its inhabitants and discuss the problems and potential solutions.

Adding ‘pollutants’ to the Chao Phraya during the River soup activity.

Having seen the ancient brick work at Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, the students favourite (and messiest) task of the trip was to make their own bricks using traditional techniques and materials- clay and rice husk in a wooden mold. After making enough bricks to build a very, very small temple (!) it was off to Wat Chai Wattanaram for our History Hunters for a final chance of observation and recording using calligram and acrostic poetry and water colour paintings.

An artistic final morning spent at Wat Chai.

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