Sukothai, Ancient ruins and a baby elephant
Jan 22, 2009
I hope you are enjoying our trip journal and not just blowing it off. We are having a lot of fun. Right now we are in Thailand. We just got back from an ancient wat (that’s a Buddha church).
We rented bikes and rode around. That was fun. But I got sick half way through so mom and I rode back and had a coke. I didn’t like the rest of the day so much - me always complaining about my stomach and nobody liked the red ants in the grass there.
The wats are not as interesting as the Catholic churches. They are not as colorful and don’t have many pieces of art.
Today we went to Sukothai. It is the only Thai ruins in Thailand or anywhere else for that matter either. It is a very big park so we decided to follow the recommendations in our travel book and rented bikes. We didn’t actually stay in the park that long, because we decided to check out the ruins out of the three-walled city.
In the park, we saw maybe two buildings and about 20 ponds. They really love water in that park. We also saw Buddha’s “footprint”. Yea, right! It is about four feet long, two feet wide, all the toes are the same length, and there are little pictures and designs all over the footprint. It seems pretty insulting to me but whatever.
Outside the city we saw four more buildings. It was pretty fun, but really hot. Even when we were riding our bikes fast, the breeze was hot. Also there were red ants. Ouch! They hurt when they bite. One of the places was supposed to have four Buddhas: one standing, one walking, one sitting, and one reclining. We never did find that reclining Buddha Another one we didn’t even have to get off our bikes for. Most of the buildings you park your bides then walk through the buildings but for this one there was a little sidewalk that we rode our bikes on. It was neat. That was pretty much all we did there. Rid around, look at old rocks, and stop to drink water. I still had fun though.
A common Thailand destination just north of Bangkok is Ayuthaya. We chose to visit a similar place quite a bit farther north called Sukothai. Both Ayuthaya and Sukothai are former capitals of the region. Sukothai is believed to be the first capital of “Siam” as the region was called. Kings lived there and reigned supreme between 1250 and 1400 until more southern tribes sacked the place and moved the center of power to Ayuthaya.
I really enjoyed the trip. We rented bikes and spent most of a day riding casually around a 25 square mile area dotted with crumbling temples and statues from the glory days. The weather is lovely, which for Thailand means it’s not too hot to be in the sun during the day. That was a good thing because I couldn’t make head nor tails of the map I got and we spent most of the day just fortuitously finding different ruins. We also enjoyed stopping by small food stands for interesting meals and snacks.
How surreal to walk down the modern streets of Phitsanulok, (where we stayed near Sukothai) and see a baby elephant! We laughed our delight and ran over to her (him?) to buy 20-baht (about 60 cents) of sugar cane elephant snacks from her two handlers. John thought the elephant very clever to gather snacks in her trunk from each of us making sure she got the most she could get, before putting them all in her mouth. Happily, she looked healthy and well treated. The local Thais didn’t seem to think it was that unusual, but we were definitely surprised to meet her.
Cycling with the family around the ruins of Sukothai the next day was another treat. Even though the bikes were not in great shape; either too small or too large, with bent pedals, and no gears; it didn’t matter to us and the price was right at 30 baht (about $1.00 a day).
The countryside was lush and beautiful. The people were friendly when we stopped to buy ice-cold Cokes and water from a woman patching a pillow while tending her snack hut on a quiet country road. She visited with an old man refreshing himself with a swallow from a brown colored bottle of herbal drink and they both smiled and made pleasantries in broken English with John and me. It was a pleasant way to spend a day.
Phitsanulok is proud of their night market and we enjoyed walking through it and watching the locals shop for clothes and trinkets. It was not a market for just tourists and so was much more interesting in some ways, but not as colorful. Several giggling 16-year old Thai girls stopped us asking to practice their English. We had such a great time answering their questions, such as; Q: “What is your favorite season in Thailand?” A: “Now!” They posed with us and took pictures with their cell phones and we took pictures of them.
Then we had an amazing meal of fish covered in fresh spinach and the so far always-delicious Phad Thai noodles. The riverfront patio restaurant boasted many tables filled with locals drinking what they call “set ups,” which are buckets of ice served with bottles of coca cola, soda water, and Sam Sung or Mekong (rice whiskey). Randy made us laugh sharing tales and fond memories of Mekong from his former visits to Thailand.
Next, we are all excited to travel much farther north and visit Chiang Mai.