Officials at Ayutthaya Historical Park have issued a warning for Thais not to climb the religious site, which suddenly became crowded with locals in the past month due to a highly-rated period TV drama, which was filmed at the park.
Before the TV series “Buppasaniwas,” or Love Destiny, started airing in late February, the park was mostly visited by foreign tourists and Thai students on school field trips.
But large numbers of Thai people are now making the trip to the location — many in old-fashioned Thai attire as worn by the characters — and some have caused damage to the structures that date back to the Ayutthaya period (1351 – 1767).
The part that has endured the most damage is the ruins of Chaiwatthanaram Temple, which was featured in the TV series. Staff posted pictures showing new fractures on the ancient red bricks.
“The park has repaired the damage at Chaiwatthanaram Temple. Therefore, we’d like to ask for cooperation from you, folks, not to climb or jump on the historical site,” said a statement posted to Facebook yesterday.
“Please help preserve our national treasure.”
Officials have also placed signs to warn people not to sit, lean, or step on the ruins.
Love Destiny, which airs on Wednesday and Thursday nights on Channel 3, has become a social media phenomenon and influenced culture in a way TV content has not done for years. Thais embrace the drama with memes and gifs, and even marketers start using the old Thai language as spoken in the show to promote products.
Is Love Destiny just another cheesy drama? You can say that it smartly plays on their target audience’ fantasies. Hot new body? Check. Properly hot and hi-so fiancé? Double check.
According to the synopsis written by local media, the movie is about Ketwarang, a “fat and ugly” archaeologist from modern time (conveniently played by a pretty actress in a fat suit). After Ketwarang died in a car accident, she was reborn into the body of Karaket, a beautiful, high-born woman in 1600s (and the fat suit comes off).
Ketwarang found out that although Karaket (aka her new body) was beautiful, she was mean-spirited and many people despised her, even her hot fiancé, who had been arranged to marry her against his will.
Things turned upside down as Karaket, now with the soul of a modern girl, became kind, smart, and nice to the servants. The hot fiancé started to fall in love with her, especially, when Karaket performed CPR to save his life after their boat crash — this was a very scandalous thing for a Thai woman to do in the 1600s.
Although the government seems to embrace the TV phenomenon, by urging people to wear Thai attire and sharing their photos taken at the tourist site, no one knows how much longer the 600-year-old structures will be able to endure.
Some of those who jump on the “Thainess” trend still don’t realize there’s more to preserving Thainess than just posing in costumes they rent from a shop in the Old Town.