Yesterday we had a rest day, to explore the areas around “new sukhothai” where we are staying. It was a Very hot, lazy day, on which we made one important decision- have the A/C turned on in our cottage. We thought we’d be fine with just the fan for circulation, but when we tried to nap… Let me qualify this by saying that Brent fell straight to sleep. I tossed and turned, sweltering, until I decided to go up to the front desk and pay 100 baht to have the a/c unit given power. $3/day, and it’s wonderful. Takes the room from $13 to $16 per day, well worth it.
We decided that today, the 26th, would be the day we would tour the historic park, we’d get up at 6, and get there early, while it was cooler, and pre-crowd. We almost got derailed by a 4am rainstorm that might have lasted longer than it did, but by 7, the coast was clear, and off we were in a sǎwngthǎew ( a local multi-passenger, open air transport, it operates a bit like a local bus) for the old city and the historic park. 30 baht each for a 12 k ride, with stops. We had kids headed to school in their purple uniforms on the ride with us part of the way, which was pretty adorable.
We are dropped at the bike rental across from the park, get set up there, then get tickets, and in we go. This place is amazing. It is the original capital of the Sukhothai Kingdom, from the 13th and 14th centuries. It’s a spectacular set of ruins, and is now a UNESCO world heritage site. There are many Buddhas, sitting, standing, and the less common walking Buddhas. Here’s a link for more information.
Here’s the main complex, Wat Mahathat, with too many Buddhas to count.
It was nice to have our bikes to move between the different areas.
We spent a couple of hours coasting around the wats and shrines, and working up an appetite. By about 11, many tour buses had arrived, so we give the park one last spin, and headed out. There are many restaurants lining the road, so I was able to have a couple of rules, in order: fan, at least on table of Asian/non-white people eating there, and cold beer. About 10 places down, we found it. I ordered the Thai fried noodle with egg:
And Brent opted for fried noodle with pork
My dish was the best we’ve had so far in Thailand. So much so that Brent ordered another one. At 40 baht, why not? Just a note for vegetarians looking to travel this area, and you know who you are (Jana)…. I expected my dish to have fish sauce and egg, what I did not expect were the pork cracklings, which I thought made the dish, both texturally and flavor-wise. Anyway, something to think about. There did appear to be more vegetarian looking options on the menu, but who knows?
Most of the places, even street carts, have this assortment of condiments on the table: some white or rice vinegar with some mild peppers, sugar, an acidic, vinegary chili sauce, wonderful smokey dried red pepper, and a hotter vinegar sauce with lots of diced bird chilies.
I know that I keep mentioning the cost of things, not to annoy, but to point out how very affordable it all is. Also, We feel really fortunate to see these places as we are. If we had more money, maybe we could have taken a taxi, and we wouldn’t have ridden the transport with the school kids, or crammed onto the water ferry in Bangkok, and I think we’d have lost something. I feel very grateful that we can stay multiple days in locations with other travelers, and stay in comfortable, but not luxurious, accommodation.
Last night, various guests pulled those mats to the left around and we all watched a movie together (The Hangover, if you must know), enjoying some snacks from the cart down the block. It’s these little moments that make travel so fun- unscripted, unplanned, people from many countries sharing a laugh.