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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

Sukhothai Continued

THAILAND | Friday, 2 March 2007 | Views [876] | Comments [6]

            I awoke early again, hoping to get another early start on the day. I was going to try to go see some ruins that were more out of the way and less visited than the first, but it was going to take some time to get there. Once I was up, fed, and packed, I started to think about riding a bicycle around in the heat and the sun again; this time it didn’t sound like so much fun. So I scrapped my original plan and decided to stay a bit closer to New Sukhothai, and maybe catch an earlier bus back to Chiang Mai.

            I talked to the girls at the guest house who gave me some directions on different areas to walk, and I was off. First I walked around New Sukhothai which I had yet to do. I stopped and got some food from a street vendor which I was eating as I crossed the street weaving in and out of the traffic. There was a small group of tuk-tuk drivers standing there laughing at me, saying I must be part Thai as I was eating Thai food and I crossed the street like a Thai. I took this as a compliment, told them I loved Thai food (except for those fried bugs, I just can’t seem to stomach the thought of trying those yet); and was off on my way. I greeted everyone I met, and thanked people in Thai, which always seemed to get a reaction in both the old and new Sukhothai. I realized they must be inundated with tourists most of the time, and the ones I had encountered had made no effort to speak Thai. While I was there I did not see a lot of foreigners who appeared to live in Sukhothai, unlike Chiang Mai.

            After walking around, I caught a bus to a Wat that was about 4 km away. From there I followed these narrow, paved (most of the time), roads that followed some canals. This was entirely a residential area, with some fishing nets set up in the canals, cows in a field here and there, and a few small gardens. It was quiet with the exception of odd motorbike or bicycle; and the locals were full of hello’s and waving. Most of it was shaded, so it proved to be very relaxing. The only problem was lack of toilets. So when I came upon a Wat, I realized it was my opportunity. They usually had bathrooms that you could use, not always the cleanest, but available. As I walked through the Wat, I could hear music, and there were tents being set up. Some kind of get together was going on, I had no idea what, but everyone was very friendly and invited me inside the main building where they were gathering. There was a group playing traditional Thai music. A group of older ladies had me sit with them, occasionally saying something to me in Thai, which unfortunately I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about.  The music stopped for awhile, yet there was still a lot of commotion going on. The buzz of people talking, a group of women getting food ready in the far corner, and the setting up of offerings on this large low U shaped table. The older women I was sitting with opened up a plastic bag full of small vials and small plastic bags. Tobacco, the women were chewing it, its leaves, and some other things I couldn’t identify; and they wanted to share with me. Not wanting to be rude, I tried the least scary looking, and only the tiniest amount. It reminded me of shredded cedar bark, same color, same texture; dry and splintery. Needless to say I didn’t enjoy it very much, and spit it out into my hand the minute they weren’t looking at me. After awhile I excused myself, the ladies not wanting me to leave and only letting me go on the contingence that when I cam back I would sit with them. I walked around the grounds some more, got some small snacks and a bottle of water from one of the vendors, and continued on my way.  I felt bad about ditching the ladies, but as interesting as the experience had been, I can only handle so much Thai music.

            Later that afternoon, I found myself back in New Sukhothai and at a restaurant eating a late lunch that was also to serve as my dinner. It was this great place, dark wood, filled with antiques. As I was eating at a weird time of day, there wasn’t really any one else there, and the lady who owns it came over to chat several times. My favorite part of the whole place was my table. The support for the table was a treadle from an old sewing machine that must have been massive; as it was several times larger than the old treadle sewing machine my mom has.

            I then headed off to the bus station, to secure my way back to Chiang Mai, or so I thought. I waited for the 3pm bus, and started to wonder if that maybe the bus had become the 4:15 pm bus. When it finally showed up, nearly a quarter to 4pm, there was a mad rush for the bus. The girl who sold me the ticket stopped me from getting on the bus saying it was full and there were no more seats. Not surprised, I asked if I should wait for the next bus and she told me yes, changing my ticket. There were some other foreigners traveling, who were visibly agitated by not getting on the bus, and I made a point not to sit near them while waiting for the next bus. It too was late, and again a mad rush for the bus, and again no seats were available. But this time I decided to go for it, realizing that the next bus was going to be just as crowded as it was Friday afternoon, and that eventually a seat would open up as people got off at different stops along the way. I had a better shot of getting one of those seats if I was already on the bus, then trying to get one at the bus station.  The isle was packed with people, and there were a few other foreigners who decided to brave the isle as well.  Except for those first two, who were starting to make a scene outside the bus, complaining that once again there were no seats. I couldn’t hear the rest of the conversation as the door closed and off we were. As we pulled out of the bus station, I sighed. I was thinking to myself “I wonder how long I can stand like this”, as while the air conditioner was on, the amount of bodies in the bus was to great for the air to actually get cooled. I felt a tap on my arm, and a young Thai man in an Army uniform offered me a seat, which I was most grateful for.  Throughout the trip, when ever the bus got crowded they offered their seats to the women, and many of them stood for nearly the whole trip. I had to only stand for five minutes, not too bad. The Japanese guy in front of me got a seat after about a half hour, and the French guy in front of him got one after about an hour and half. Other than that, the bus trip was very uneventful, and once I arrived in Chiang Mai it felt nice to be in some place so familiar, and dare I say it, “home”.

 

Tags: Sightseeing

Comments

1

Hey Steph!
I've been reading your travelogue, it sounds like you're having a great time. Keep the food descriptions coming!! (Unless you're eating bugs!!) I'll send you a proper e-mail soon. Take care!
Love,
Allison

  Allison Mar 6, 2007 3:38 AM

2

Stephanie,
What a fabulous adventure you are having. Sharing some words of Thai does open the universe to you. I found a Thai/English dictionary when I was there that had English pronounciation info for the Thai words AND the Thai words written in Thai script. That book (and a friendly self) opened more doors for me. I would walk into a restaurant alone and end up with half the staff around the table studying English and teaching me Thai. It was so fun.

Congratulations on your teachng position! I am eagerly awaiting more stories and pictures.

Karla


  Karla Mar 6, 2007 5:32 AM

3

Hi Miss Stephanie!! First chance to read your site. I could pass on the fried bugs too. Yuk! Miss you lots, think of you when I'm watching re-runs of Sex & the City.
You pretty much introduced me to that show. Were you hurt when you got hit by the bike? We are having a "snow day"here - major blizzards over the next few days, much different than you! So I'm staying home from the State job and catching up on my reading from my adventurous friends!
Love ya,
Valerie

  Valerie DeLaune Mar 6, 2007 7:05 AM

4

Well Steph, it is about time you stopped stalking me in Juneau! I had wondered where my friendly little bookseller had gone! It sounds like you are having a wonderful adventure! Those bugs could be your own version of Fear Factor!

Be well,
Donna

  Donna Mar 6, 2007 7:34 AM

5

Stephanie,
I must admit that in South Africa I did not eat any bugs but I did have to brave some interesting meats. I am loving reading your travels, especially while we drown in KTN rain! I am planning to send a proper email soon. SO happy you are having a great time!! Cheers!

  Laurie Mar 6, 2007 12:14 PM

6

Steph, Love your travelogue. You are so much more adventurous than I. Keep em coming. Love ya Grandma

  Grandma Mar 8, 2007 9:36 AM

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