Sukhothai, Thailand

We were somewhat relieved to be leaving Bangkok. We enjoyed the city, but as we had been there before it was not new to us. Our next destination however was completely new. After a very comfortable 6 hour first class bus ride, we arrived in New Sukhothai. With a population of just 30,000 it was just a small town, but still with plenty of guesthouses and facilities due to the nearby tourist attraction. We checked into our wonderful bungalow, with large deck perfect for chilling out with a book/PS Vita and a beer. Certainly a change of pace from Bangkok! The real reason we were in Sukhothai however was to visit the old city. Established some 700 odd years ago, it was the Thai capital during the 13th century. What remains today is a myriad of temple, monastery and statue ruins. The guidebooks claimed that due to restoration some of the main ruins now looked very restored and almost new. Fortunately, and not for the first time, this was complete bollocks and everything looked and felt as ancient as it was. We spent about 5 hours walking around the city exploring the ruins and marvelling at the sights. As with Myanmar, walking on/in/around the ruins is allowed and really gives you a deeper appreciation walking in the same footsteps of kings and monks from past centuries, as well as getting up close to the many Buddha statues. It is a truly wonderful place and somewhere that everyone visiting Thailand should visit! We left the city in the late afternoon using the same old bus service that we had used to get there. This involved getting on an old (like 50 years old) flat deck truck with some railings and tarp covering bench seats on the deck. What a cool ride! Although oddly enough we didn’t see any other tourists using it, only locals. It never ceases to amaze me how so many people travel to these places, yet refuse to do anything that the locals do and instead opt for a VIP tour at 25 times the cost (yes, 25 times) of doing it yourself. We see and experience so much more doing things the local way – including eating at local restaurants and not at expensive foreigner-orientated places. But I digress… That evening was New Years. But who cares. It’s just another night, so we had a Thai dinner, few beers in the restaurant, few beers on the deck and went to bed. Fireworks at midnight work us up enough to mumble incoherent Happy New Years to each other before going back to sleep. Our second day in Sukhothai was very relaxed. We went for a 3 hour walk in the morning out into the rural farms and just wandered around the local huts and people. It was great seeing local people going about their lives without any other tourists about! After we found our way back to town we relaxed on the deck for the rest of the day before heading to the market in the evening, watching a man taking his baby elephant for a walk and the compulsory pad Thai and beers for dinner. That evening however ended in a bit of a fright. For those who don’t know, Koreans believe in something called “Fan Death”. Essentially the belief is that if you sleep with a fan blowing on you then you will die. We had poked fun on this in our bungalow as we had 2 fans blowing on us to keep us cool, and a Korean family next to us had made sure their fans were all pointing away from them. But on the last night, fortunately while we were both out of the room, one of the fans exploded resulting in the front snapping off and one of the blades flying across the room! Fan Death nearly struck! Sukhothai was a magical place, and it was great to finally see somewhere with a real sense of history. Next stop: Chiang Mai.

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