Monday, July 19, 2010


The Sukhothai bus station was nothing special. It had the usual assortment of tuktuk drivers offering their services. The tuktuks, however, were rather different than most of the others we had previously encountered. They were like a backwards tricycle, with two wheels in the front and one in back. The driver, oddly enough, was also seated in the back, atop the single wheel. The only way he could adequately see the road was right between Chuck and me. It felt a bit like we were being stared at by the guy the entire drive to our hotel. Our hotel was nicer than we expected and the girl who greeted us at the front desk was pleasantly friendly. Before showing us to our room she asked us if we liked pink. We were confused by this for a few moments, but all became apparent as she swung open the door we were met with a wall of cotton candy colored decor. It was the pretty-little-princess-that-resides-within-me's dream room. How cute. More importantly, AC! We turned it on and waited for it to cool down. It never really did, but it was better than going without. We walked into town for dinner, which turned out to be a much longer walk than we had anticipated, but I know I was grateful for the little bit of exercise. We sat on the balcony of a rooftop restaurant and had a nice meal, then walked back to the hotel. It was an uneventful night.

In the morning on the 7th we headed into town again, where we were told we could catch a bus to the old city. We found the bus (more like a songthaew) easily, but had to wait around a bit before we left. Man was it hot and sunny. We were wet with sweat by the time the bus left, and we had merely been sitting around patiently waiting. The ride took about 30 minutes with all the stops that were made, but I found the buildings and scenery we passed by entertaining enough. It's nice to watch local life and wonder what people are doing or where they're going, etc. We were dropped off right next to a bike rental shop just outside the old city. Biking had been our plan, so we went ahead and each got one. The nice lady who rented them to us also gave us a map and highlighted where the entrance to the old city (aka historical Sukhothai) was. We resigned ourselves to a sweaty, hot day and pedaled off down the road, around a few corners, to the nondescript little booth that was the "ticket office" for the old city. We paid our dues and rode past the booth and into the official Historical Sukhothai Park. Or whatever it's officially called. It was pretty cool looking, all ancient and semi-crumbled. At the first old building complex we came across we wrapped our bikes together with our provided chain and lock, passed the old woman selling waters and snacks, and crossed the little bridge into the ruins. We didn't know it at the time, but we were looking at the biggest temple complex called Wat Mahathat. There were a ton of chedis (the typically conical, pointy structures that were originally used as funerary monuments, but are now just a common structure found at Buddhist temples) and a fair few large, cross-legged Buddhas. The roofs (if there had been any) were long since gone, and the various pillars that might have supported them were all broken to differing heights. Squinting through the sunshine at the astounding old structures, we walked around the temple until we were cranky from the heat, which only took about 20 minutes. We took a quick water break and hopped back on our bikes to pedal to the next temple. None of the following sights were quite as impressive as the Wat Mahathat, but they did all have that satisfyingly ancient feel. After getting sweaty while riding our bikes around the old city, we took a leisurely ride along the roads that surrounded it. There wasn't anything exciting to see, but it was nice to feel the wind really working its magic on our wet shirts. We came back around full circle to the bike rental shop, dropped off our bikes, and bought a couple bottles of water, which were gone within 5 minutes. Then we headed over to where we had been dropped off earlier and hopped on a songthaew after making arrangements with the driver. Once a few more passengers had climbed aboard we took off back to Sukhothai town. Chuck and I were rather starved by the time we got back, and the Poo Restaurant seemed like the perfect place to remedy our predicament. I considered ordering the Poo Breakfast but settled on a simple bowl of soup. Poo, poo, poo. What a name for a restaurant. Walking back to the hotel we saw indications that the upcoming Songkran festival was nearly upon us. A number of convenience shops had large displays of water guns, ranging from tiny little squirters to big, multi-chamber monsters. We even got squirted by an overzealous 3 year old who was apparently anxious for the festivities to begin. So were we! But patience young grasshopper. We still had a few days to wait. We made it back to the hotel where we cleaned ourselves up and basked in the AC until after dusk, when hunger began creeping upon us again. Borrowing a couple of bikes from our hotel we rode into town where we sat down to a street-cart dinner along with a bunch of other locals. I loved that although we were on a sidewalk, there was a 12" TV set up so that all the diners could watch the latest Thai drama as they enjoyed their meals. Gotta love that TV.

We packed up and headed to the bus station on the 8th. We were headed to Chiang Mai in order to celebrate the Thai New Year, Songkran. It was described as an event that we really needed to see for ourselves, and we were pretty excited to soon be experiencing it.

No comments:

Post a Comment