Posted by: James Shannon | December 17, 2010

James, Maelinka, Oliver, and George The Monkey Explore Sukhothai … Who’s George? Read On, Dear Reader!

After frolicking with the monkeys (well OK, crab-eating macaques for those among you demanding specifics πŸ˜› ) of Lopburi, the newly formed Terrific Trio (Oliver, Maelinka, and Your Incredibly Handsome Author) forged north via rail and after Philsanalok, air-conditioned bus to check out the original capital of the Siamese Kingdom, Sukhothai. After traveling solo on my ongoing adventure, having some travel companions was a refreshing change to my everyday routine on the road, as it allowed us the opportunity to share our take on things as we experienced them, and to push each other to do things beyond our collective comfort levels…

…speaking of comfort levels … ahhhh yes, the joys of traveling third class! Cheap to travel hundreds of kilometres at the low low price of 99 baht, but you only get fans that may or may not cover your area, loud hawkers *constantly* selling drinks, food, etc, and if you were as unlucky as Oliver above, you get the sun in your face for four long hours! πŸ˜›

But after the toils of long-distance travels sans creature comforts, the payoff … nice beds in a super clean room with ice-cold a/c, bundled with an incredible restaurant downstairs, and the friendliest staff I’ve encountered to date. You can just feel the air-conditioning just by looking at the expression on my two companion’s faces πŸ˜›

… and on mine too! Wait a second … who’s that on my chest??

Well, it seems that somebody decided to hitch a ride in my backpack while we were in Lopburi! I named our little stowaway … wait for it … George! Nominate me for a Pulitizer or a Webby, or a Bloggy (if that exists) … literary gold!

After getting very deep and restful sleep after a long and ardous travel day, we wasted no time in seeing the sights of the Old City. Unlike Auytthaya, the modern day city of Sukhothai is NOT built around the ruins of its former incarnation. So we hitched a ride on a songthaew (basically a improvised bus built on the back on a 1-ton truck) @ 20 baht per passenger for the 16 kilometre journey to the site of Old Sukhothai.

Upon arrival, it was highly recommended that we rent a bicycle (pedal power), as it would enable us to see all the temples and ruins in a timely manner. For 50 baht, the road bikes were ours for the day. With that settled, we set out to see the grandeur of the former Thai capital!

A view of the beginning of the Shan Hills, the first of the foothills of the Himalyan Mountain Range, from the plaza of a momument commemorating of the ancient Thai Kings that ruled their kingdom from this city.

The first ruins we saw that day, which turned out to be the biggest complex out of all of them.

In the intense mid-afternoon sun, birds swoop from spire to spire of the ancient ruins of a large wat complex just east of the Old City walls, giving a slightly eerie feel to the place…

A standing Buddha in remarkable shape … many other Buddhas were about the Old City grounds, but this picture turned out the best!

I could make a wisecrack about this sign, but I think its funny enough on its own πŸ˜›

We cycled out as far as 4km from the North City walls to see some of the outlying features of Sukhothai. We were running out of time, but we just had to check out this hilltop momument, as it was recommended to us by a local. This was climb before us … mountain legs, don’t fail me now!

It doesn’t seem high, but considering that Sukhothai and points south all the way to Bangkok are mostly flat-as-a-pancake coastal plains, the view was superb … made even more superb by the fact that I’m posing beside it πŸ˜›

Said hilltop momument, bathing in the 4pm sunshine … d’oh, time to get back before the bike rental place closes!!!

We did get back with a half-hour to spare, and after boarding the songthaew back to the new city, we plotted out our exploits for the coming days … visit a waterfall that all locals rave about, but rarely gets any visits from foreigners? Sign us up!

Alas, this post is getting a tad long, so I’ll cut it here and hold you in suspense for a few days more…

Waterfall Follies: coming soon on The Pursuit of Excitement!


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