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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 106: Suffering Sukhothai!

THAILAND | Tuesday, 19 February 2008 | Views [857]

Tuesday 19th February

I didn't get up particularly early, figuring that I would rather spend a larger part of the afternoon than the morning time exploring the ruins of the 'Old City'. I wanted to hang about until later in the afternoon, thinking it a better time to get some decent photographs.

The guide book advised that a sawngthaew bus to the ruins would cost 20B, as opposed to the price of 120B that I was quoted in the guesthouse if you went solo. I walked about, looking for the bus stop and in the end asked a tuk-tuk driver where the street was that I was looking for. He didn't know, so asked a nearby shop-keeper, who pointed to the road we were standing on, and the main road through the town. Good luck to the tuk-tuk driver, but I think he needs to look for another job!

Once at the old city, I hired a bike for 20B for the whole day, an essential form of transport in order to see the scattered ruins at a comfortable and manageable pace. After a quick stop at the local museum to get some background information (hardly worth it, really), I set off for the historical park entrance. 150B covered entry to all of the ruins, and the first one that I came to was that of Wat Matathat, the largest collection of ruins and the main attraction, and rightly so, because it was highly impressive.

The archtitecture in Sukhothai is similar to that in Ayuthaya, with various structures in evidence in both locations indicating the predominantly buddhist worship that these sites were built for: chedi (bell-shaped towers); praang (phallic, Khmer-style towers); wat (temple monastery); and wihaan (sanctuaries for Buddha sculptures and places of worship). Sukhothai was the original captial of the burgeoning Thai kingdom (one of the primary achievements of which was the development of the Thai alphabet) and dates back to the 13th century. It was succeededby the new capital at Ayuthaya, which existed from the 14th century to the 18th century.

The ancient ruins were excellent places for photography, and I certainly used the opportunity to practise some techniques, in an effort to take more interesting photos. Although I only have a basic point-and-shoot camera, it allows me to experiment more and I am enjoying the chance to have more time to develop this interest further.

There are about twenty different locations in total, some inside the old city walls, and some situated outside, all of which were very calm places, set back from any traffic, and very well looked after. There were very few guards in evidence, and I really liked this approach, leaving you free to explore at your own will, and to feel that you were trusted to look after these monuments that provide an insight into Thailands past.

Later in the evening, I cycled to the outskirts of the city, to a monument sat atop a nearby hillside that overlooked the area around the old city of Sukhothai. The day had become milder (but still warm) and the sun hid behind large white clouds, creating a very pleasant, more autumnal-feel to the place. I relaxed there for half an hour, taking in the scenery of the countryside. The tranquility of the forests and quiet roads on the outskirts of the city put me in a really good mood.

I cycled back to the main historical park to take some photos of the ruins of Wat Matathat in the alternative light of the late afternoon, and managed to get a few photos in before my battery – which was fully-charged that morning – ran out completely, such was the level of action my camera had seen during the course of the day. After wandering around to simply take in the sights and the ambiance of the place, I called it a day and took the bus back to the new city. It had been an excellent day, and perhaps one of the highlights of the trip so far.   

Tags: Sightseeing


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