Another five and a half hours on a bus got us from Ayutthaya to Sukhotai. The tickets have assigned seat numbers but the concept appears foreign to Thais, and recognising and sitting in the correct seat is beyond many of them. The empty seat next to me was occupied by a monk after the first stop. Unusually for a monk he turned out to be very talkative and was a champion fidget. He took a shine to my Kindle and dropped more than one or two hints about me “donating” it to him or swapping it for his mobile phone. Dream on! He was quite interesting though and showed us his photo album. It included photos of him leading a ceremony with all the participants having a cotton thread wrapped around their head and joined to a matrix of threads in the ceiling. There were also photos of his family and of his very intricate tattoos, which he explained were done the traditional way with bamboo and a hammer.  He also told us when we’d reached Sukhotai, which was useful because the bus stations, like everything else are signed in Thai but not English.

I’m not complaining about the lack of English signage; it’s not like Buckingham Palace is signed in Thai, but it does make life a little difficult when you can’t read or speak the local language. I have a feeling things will be worse when I get to China.

The hotel had a driver waiting for us at the bus station – very civilised 🙂 We had our own little brick built cabin with a galvanised roof and this one had been cleaned. Hannah was happy. After dinner we went and looked for the night market. Maybe we looked in the wrong place, maybe we were too late, but all we found was a food market.

On Tuesday it started raining as we went to breakfast and quickly turned into a torrential downpour which lasted over two hours. So it was almost 11:30 before the driver dropped us at the bus stop for the old city. The bus did a good job of competing with the Ayutthaya “express” train for slowest motorised transport award. It only had two working gears and the driver was reluctant to use the higher one. At the old city we found the usual scam of buy something (entrance to the temple complex – 100 baht) and then buy all the extras (bike hire – 30 baht, bike admission to temple – 10 baht, audio tour – 150 baht, extra if keeping it more than three hours, audio player deposit). The temple complex was apparently built by a better bunch of builders than those at Ayutthaya, many of which were distinctly wonky in a way that simple ransacking wouldn’t have caused. If you can stand more wat photos, they’re at Flickr.

After the temple complex and a late lunch we cycled eight kilometres to Tak in search of, wait for it, yet more wats. We didn’t find them and couldn’t hang around looking for them. We had to head back for the last bus from the old city back to Sukhotai. We returned the bikes at 17:15 in good time for the last bus at 17:30 only to find the driver had thought better of it, and packed up early for the day. We waited with three other tourists until about 17:45 and took a tuk-tuk instead.

Wednesday was another travelling day with a bus ride to Chiang Mai. No chatty monks this time, and also a much less luxurious coach, but it somehow managed to do the journey in only five hours instead of the advertised six.

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2 Responses to “Sukhotai”

  1. David Halberstadt says:

    Love my Kindle too…and my Kindle Fire is just spectacular…

    Damn dude…you rock…

    • Mark says:

      Hey Dave,

      It’s funny, I was thinking about the Kindle-loving monk while trekking the other day. It may not be good for my soul but I’m glad I didn’t donate mine to him.

      The Kindle Fire does look very impressive. Maybe one day…

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