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"That night, the three of us sat huddled in front of a rerun of Ally McBeal on TV, sipping coffee, silently contemplating our little adventure."
- Rasee Govindani

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The ancient city
by Rasee Govindani, 18, Bangkok, Thailand
Sep 15, 1999

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The Ancient City cover 600 acres of land, stretching beyond the horizon. Shaped identical to the country of Thailand, there were close to 200 exhibits to visit and the distance between these exhibits were HUGE. Nothing was miniature. What lay across all that land were replicas of temples, palaces, monuments, sculptures, and other structures that are part of Thai, Cambodian and Burmese histories. Some of the original ones still stand in their respective cities and countries, but at the Ancient City, replicas of these had been constructed so you could see what they really looked like.

It was an amazing six-hour walk. From the palaces of Ayutthaya to the Angkor Wat of Siam Reap to the Buddha images of Chiang-mai, the Ancient city held within its walls treasures like nothing I had ever seen. There was even a mini floating market, with boats and all. We walked into the palaces, examined the engravings and carvings, avoiding spiders and bending to keep from hitting our heads at the doorways, breathing in the smell of rain and feeling like we've never felt before. There were deer all over the place, running wild and beautiful. Paola fell in love with them and tried to approach them, but as if sensing our uncertainty, they would run.

Paola bought herself a Thai straw hat, which we lost somewhere in the Viman Prasad Palace of Cambodia. Our final destination, and probably my favorite, was a 60 metre man-made hill that was a replica of a mountain in Chiang Mai. It was an exhausting climb, but once at the top, the view was worth every moment. It was absolutely breathtaking. You could see the Ancient City it its entirety. You could see the sea and the palm trees in the distance, and more greenery than I ever thought existed.

Six hours after we first got to the Ancient City, we were starving. There weren't an obvious restaurants and we were quite unsure where to eat, but we came across a big straw hut of sorts, with tables set low, close to the floor and assumed from the Mercedes parked outside, that we would find food. We ate Thai food, sitting on straw mats on the floor, watching the darkening sky. It gave us time to reflect, to absorb and to remember. I will always remember.

After walking out of the Ancient City, we crossed the street and took a mini-bus back to the bus stop. We took the same bus back into the city, by which time it had begun to rain heavily. We decided to go for coffee at a hangout cum mall just across the street from my house, but when we got off the bus, we were completely drenched. The roads were flooded and none of us were willing to wade across the street. It was hilarious the way the three of us jumped into a row of telephone booths, trying to decide where to go. In the end, we waded through knee-deep water into a Seven-Eleven, where we bought coffee, and waded through more water to my house. I will always remember the walk back home because Drew led the way, making sure we weren't going to fall into an open potholes, while Paola and I clung to each other, stepping carefully. The ice-cold water swirled around our thighs and we couldn't see a thing in front of us. We just kept walking.

That night, the three of us sat huddled in front of a rerun of Ally McBeal on TV, sipping coffee, silently contemplating our little adventure.

Paola left for Mexico two months ago, leaving me a Mexican doll, a bottle of Tequila, and memories I will cherish forever. She brought so much into my life and sharing her experiences while she was here made me see things in Thailand that I never would have.

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