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where in the world is steph.... Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? -- Mary Oliver


THAILAND | Thursday, 1 March 2007 | Views [853]

           I was desperate to see more of Thailand, and with the date of when I actually am suppose to start teaching quickly rushing upon me, I saw a window and I took it. I had a few days until I was suppose to move into my new place, so I packed up all my things, and stored it all except a small bag, and off I was to the bus station. I stepped out of the red taxi right at six o’clock. Everything immediately came to a standstill as the Thai national anthem was played. I stood quiet and respectful in the middle of the street in front of the bus terminal, as the traffic had come to a halt and to do anything else would be unthinkable. I could over hear two foreigners who must have been new to Thailand pondering over what exactly they were listening to, and that it must be serious as everything was so still. Once over, I quickly paid my driver and slipped into the busy station to locate the appropriate ticket window for my destination. 

Now, I had called on two different occasions to get the bus schedule from Chiang Mai to Sukhothai, and had been given different responses every time. So when I got to the bus station I was not surprised to find that the schedule was actually something completely different. There was a man who pointed to a sign that the last bus to Sukhothai left at 6:10 PM. I asked him if I had missed it, to which I just got the reply, “last bus”. He asked when I wanted to go, I replied today, which was met by last bus again. Not to be swayed from my plan, I asked when the first bus tomorrow was, and he told me I would have to buy those tickets around the corner. He then asked me “Why not go today”. I finally realized that despite the time, the bus hadn’t left yet, and I could still buy a ticket, and so I did. The gentlemen found this confusion quite humorous, and relayed the story to several around him in Thai, which was met with much laughter. A great way to start the trip, I thought as I hopped gratefully onto the 1st class bus.

Buses have classes of service just like airlines; the difference is that the entire bus falls into this class of service instead of sections. 1st class has air conditioning, most important on a six hour bus journey. However, no toilet and when the person in front of me reclined their seat all the way, they were literally laying in my lap, giving me no option but to recline my seat all the way as well. The bus made numerous stops, people hoping on and off, and as I looked around, all my fellow travelers appeared to be Thai. About half way into the trip the young girl sitting next to me got off the bus, and was a short time later replaced by a young man who wanted to talk. This despite the fact it was pitch black on the bus, everyone appeared to be sleeping, and I had my headphones on, and my eyes closed. He also didn’t speak much English, so our brief conversations were limited. I was grateful for my stop, as it was a little after midnight when arrived in Sukhothai. The temperature was comfortable, not too warm, not cold; and I appreciated the fresh air as I was riding in an open air three wheeled vehicle of sorts. It resembled a motorbike with a two wheeled cage on the front, with a bench over either wheel and a canopy overhead to shield one from the direct sun had it been during the day. Checking into my accommodations went without a hitch, and I quickly settled into bed.

The next day I awoke early, I wanted to get to the historical park before the heat of mid-day. I was staying in New Sukhothai, so I had to take a local bus to Old Sukhothai which took 20 to 30 minutes. The buses reminded me of the amphibious vehicles that do “duck” tours in Ketchikan and Seattle. Not that these vehicles were, they just were shaped similarly, and just as open.

The park was beautiful. I rented a bicycle to get around to the different ruins, which were far less crowded than I had anticipated. I stopped for lunch around 1pm, to get out of the sun and take a break from the heat, then proceeded to the museum thinking it would be cool there in the heat of day. I was wrong, not only was the museum stuffy and hot, but they were redoing the tile work on the floor, which was loud and could be heard throughout the museum. The displays were interesting, and it motivated me to ride my bike out towards the ruins in the west. Armed with my sixth bottle of water for the day, I took off on my bike along the road. The first ruin I came to required me to walk up this hill to see it. I was fairly hot, but decided to go for it anyway and grateful in the end. Not that the ruins were so spectacular, but I was the only one there (several people had left as I got there), and from the hill you had a great view of the main ruins of the historical park, and fields and farm land. It was incredibly quiet compared to Chiang Mai, and I sat in the shade enjoying the quite for awhile. The rest of the road was flat, but the heat of the day made it hard to enjoy the rest of the ride, it was around 3pm, but not much shade on this stretch of road. So I leisurely headed back towards the main park, deciding not to climb any more hills or really send much time at the ruins in that area. When I got back to the main park, I took a quick nap under the shade of some palm trees next to one of the moats, before returning my bicycle and heading back into town. 

I was tired and had a slight sunburn despite the sunscreen and long sleeved shirt I had on.  So once back at the guest house, I planted myself in the garden with a book until the mosquitoes became unbearable. Heading back to my room to get my bug spray, I heard a familiar voice. I looked over to the dining area to see Muffy, one of the people who had been in my class with me. She had left for Cambodia shortly after the end of the course, and I didn’t think I would see her again. I ended up having dinner with her, and swapping stories about the last couple weeks before retiring to bed early. Doesn’t matter where I go, I always seem to run into someone I know.

Tags: Sightseeing

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