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Irene's Adventures

Thailand - Sukhotai

THAILAND | Saturday, 12 December 2009 | Views [480]


We took a 7 hour bus ride to Sukothai on Tuesday.  We had made a reservation at TR Guesthouse on-line the night before and they had given us a confirmation number as well as a telephone number to call when we arrived so they could pick us up from the bus. Terrific!  When we arrived a man came hustling over to us and said something to the effect of "I've come to pick you up.  You have reservation, right?"  "yes, we have reservation."  "Please give me your correct spelling of name so I can confirm you"  RED FLAG!!!  We told him that we had a reservation with TR Guesthouse, and we were told to call them.  "You must mean JJ Guesthouse" "No, we're pretty sure it is TR Guesthouse.  We are going to call them now."  "Oh, I can call on my mobile for you.  They be here in 5 minutes."  Not a chance.....   So off we go to find a phone.  The man on the other end was very pleasant and said he would be there in 10 minutes.  This other bugger was still lingering about so we asked our fellow how we would recognize him.  He said truck number 9321.  Not 2 minutes later a truck pulls up (it is a very small bus station, but with a definite passenger pick up zone) and a fellow jumps out saying he is there to pick us up and is already grabbing our bags to throw them into his truck.  Irene is saying "How did you get here so fast?"  "My wife just called me to say there was a pick up at the bus and I was nearby"  RED FLAG!!!  Irene had talked to a man on the phone. As well, the truck number is wrong.  Just then a truck with plate number 9321 pulls up and we say "there is our ride" and off we go.

Our fellow told us that the fellow from JJ Guesthouse has had some bad luck in the past year and as a result of his land owner for the past 10 years raising the rent a lot, he has rebuilt on some property that he has just bought. Basically, he is starting from scratch after 10 years.  But he is really struggling so he has a man planted at the bus station pulling this scam and luring people from other guesthouses to his.  Our fellow didn't seem too put out by it, in fact, he seemed to feel badly for his competitor.

The next day we went off to visit the old city http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sukhothai_historical_park with its 100+ ruins.  We caught a "city bus" which was basically a covered lumber wagon.  We sat in the back, on wooden benches, with a bit of a guard rail around.  It was 14 kilometers to the sight and we got to really see how the locals live from our vantage from the bus.  As it puttered along (Ed said it reminded him of a tractor with the way it sounded and moved along) and picked up and dropped off people, we got a good look at the common man's part of town.  At the park we rented bicycles and proceeded to guide ourselves around.  Some of the wats (temples) were so amazing.   This particular park has so many Wats in various stages of decay, some are still amazingly good, others restored, others falling over.  They are typically a square base with 3 tiers topped with a round lotus bud shape - but huge!!!  There is always a Buddha, or sometimes, several Buddhas, seated in the meditative position, smiling at you. The park also covers many, many hectars (hence the bikes) and some of the roads we biked on were worth the journey in themselves.  There was one that was on a huge hill.  The view from up there was breathtaking.  One can only imagine when it was built the King would have had a commanding view of his empire.

We stayed only 2 nights in Sukhotai, but not without running into Ashley and Tim again (a beautiful young couple from California - and beautiful both outwardly - they could both be models - and inwardly) Lenny, you were right about meeting the same people along the way. Then another 6 hour milk-run bus ride to Chiang Mai.  Again, the long ride was worth it in that we got to see some amazing country side, as well as some smaller villages.

Once in ChiangMai, we got ripped off with the taxi again (we paid about $1.50 too much... damn it, no lunch tomorrow....LOL)  Ben Guesthouse is off the beaten path but still only about a 10-15 minute walk to the night market.  The market here is similar to the Koa San Road only they are not as aggressive.  and they are very willing to barter.  Interestingly, Irene stopped at one stall to look at some silk pajamas and was tossed as to whether or not she wanted them now or to look around a bit.  The lady kept slashing the price and slashing the price, saying over and over again, "you first customer,  good price"  We had read that they will really slash their price for the first customer since they believe that it is bad luck to not sell to that first one.  Since Irene really wanted those silk pj's she did buy them.  They lady took the money and tapped every stack of pj's she had, muttering what sounded like a prayer, before giving the change back.  Later, when we were walking back to the guesthouse, we passed by her stall again.  She thanked us again, saying she sold more right after we left.  The lady in the stall next to her was telling us that we are lucky people and to please buy from her as well.  She had jewelry and Irene was not interested in any, but she did wish blessings on her stall, to which the lady was very grateful - because we "lucky, lucky".

Yesterday we went on a walk through the old city (every city seems to have an "old city" complete with walls and moat). We were looking for Wat Chediluang, where we heard you could have a Monk Chat.  Young monks sit in a beautiful part of the wat and answer any questions you have regarding the life of a monk and their customs, etc.  They get to practice their English and we get to learn.  It was one of the most impressive Wats we had seen yet and later in the evening we stopped there again.  We will probably stop there yet again tomorrow night, as it has a whole different atmosphere at night.  It was so beautiful and so peaceful.  The grounds for these Wats are quite large, with massive trees (some of these Wats are hundreds of years old and the trees look like they have been there since day one) lovely lawns, beautiful flowers and flowering shrubs.  The monks live right there and take care of everything.  The cleanest bathrooms in town are at the temples!!!!   All the actual temple buildings are covered with gold and tiny bits of colored mirrors, that appear gem-like, embedded into the plaster that is carved into flowers, dragons, birds, and patterns.  They sparkle and glisten by day, but at night they turn magical!!  The grounds are surrounded by stone or brick walls, so none of the street noise penetrates, it is eerily quiet and dark. Giant trees, fragrant flowers, stone benches all silently surround a huge gold and gem studded open air temple -  the few strategically placed lights cause the protective gem-studded dragons at the entrances, that were sleeping by day, to come alive. The lotus flower frames around the 2 meter by 1.5 meter windows, that were merely pretty during the day, seem to blossom open by night. The 3 meter high double doors wide open, the soft warm lights within reflecting off more gold and gem-looking mirrors.  The golden Buddha sitting, smiling, welcoming. ahhhh..

There is more to tell but Ed says that if I make these e-mails too long no one will read them.  I look at it this way,  Most of you were telling us to keep in touch, let you know what is happening, to tell you about our adventures.  This is my way of doing that.  I could give you a very boring version of the towns we've been to, but they would have no relevance since most of you have only a basic idea of where the country is (as was myself), let alone specific towns.  I could give a brief description of sights we've seen, but you could get that on Wikipedia.  I wanted to convey the feeling of places, the emotions they evoked in us, the actual experience, as best I can word it.  If these emails are too long, I apologize,  If you really don't like them, delete them.  It is also a way for us to remember our own journey years from now, so in a way this is our diary that we are sharing with you.


Irene & Ed


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