Sukhothai Historical ParkJuly 19 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 34 °C
Sukhothai is the ancient capital of Siam, and essentially the starting point for modern Thailand. Although it was founded by Khmer, it was conquered by Siamese in the 13th century and reached its peak under the reign of King Ramkhamhaeng at the end of the 13th century. In addition to expanding Sukhothai and Siam's borders, he also helped developed Thai writing and Thai language. And in his spare time, converted the kingdom from Hinduism to Buddhism (which it's remained ever since).
So we were pretty keen to check out the ancient capital. We set off from our guest house on borrowed bicycles at about 8am, ideally before the heat of the day really set in. It was still pretty hot though, and we sweated up a storm pedalling around.
But it was a really nice spot, with a bunch of temples, shrines, pagodas, little lakes and monasteries and so on. Quite a few Buddha statues still around, though I'm not sure how original some of them were. And the entire site was very carefully manicured with hedges, lawns etc. No garbage around, and big teams of groundskeepers sweeping and picking up leaves which was nice (incidentally - Thailand is noticeably cleaner in most places than any of Vietnam/Laos/Cambodia).
We explored most of what we could see with our entry ticket, rode a bit outside the city walls to an extra bit that proved to be closed, then headed back into Old Sukhothai. By now it was midday so we had lunch at a restaurant in the backstreets not far from our guesthouse. This one was recommended to us and the food was fantastic, though a little pricey. About $7 AUD for a dish which is cheap by Australian standards but expensive for here.
After lunch we headed back to the guesthouse and just chilled out for a few hours. Unfortunately for us we had no home for tonight; we were getting an overnight bus from Phitsanulok across to Udon Thani, a city back near the Laos border.
So we hung out at the guest house for a few hours. Then we got a songthaew from Old Sukhothai to New Sukhothai. Then we got a coach for the hour trip from New Sukhothai back to Phitsanulok. Now we had the problem that we were at Phitsanulok Bus Station 1, and needed to be at Bus Station 2. It was only 6pm though, and our bus wasn't until 11pm so we weren't worried.
Scoffed at some local tuk-tuk guys who wanted 150 baht for the 5 minute ride, and eventually a guy who was checking tickets for various bus companies asked a couple of drivers for us. Within a few minutes he'd found a coach driver taking an empty bus between the stations who was happy to take us along for the ride! We ended up tipping the driver 20 baht even though he was a bit insistent we didn't pay him.
Finally we'd arrived, we just had 4.5 hours until the bus and the station was quite grim. No air conditioning, only crappy fans and stifling air to be found. Had some dinner of instant noodles from one of the nearby shops as we didn't want to risk anything more adventurous before an all-night bus ride.
Struck up a conversation with the only other two white people there, a slightly younger couple from Madrid who were catching a 9pm bus to Chiang Mai. They were good company and we swapped stories - particularly about pet dogs that we'd left behind! But eventually their bus left and we just waited and waited. 11pm came and went with no bus.
Finally it showed up at about 11:50pm! At least the air on board was freezing cold, a nice change from the stifling awfulness of the bus station. It was reasonably comfortable with large enough seats, footrests, long reclines, and plenty of space in front so you didn't get your legs crushed when your neighbour reclined. They even handed out cookies, water and blankets. I drank some water, ate my cookies and settled in for a long night as the bus rolled out of the station.Read more