Sightseeing

Exploring the ancient sites of Sukhothai…and escaping the hounds

During the 13th Century, the ancient city of Sukhothai was the Capital of Thailand. Ruled at the time by King Ramkhamhaeng, the old city flourished with temples and stunning architecture, and was inevitably the Thailand’s hub for the monarchy, politics and religion.

Around 800 years on and this beauty has not been forgotten. Despite its ‘ruined’ remains, the sacred site of the ancient city of Sukhothai has been rightfully recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Not originally on my route around Thailand, I made it a pit-stop between Chiang Rai and Bangkok after being recommended to visit by a friend. And I’m glad I listened to her advice.

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Sukhothai is breathtakingly beautiful. And peaceful. An air of serenity exists around the entire site.

You can explore the ancient city by bicycle, foot or moped. Despite my love of riding a push-bike,  I opted for the latter – and am very glad I did as the heat would have been way too much.

In between making my way around the various points, I took time to read my book and meditate. Bringing in some of the learnings from my time spent with KK the monk from Chiang Mai, it felt the perfect place to practice.

Long-winded lesson learned

The guest house I stayed at is tucked away from the husssle and bustle of the new town – only a two minute drive away – 10 minutes by bike – fine for those traveling in a couple. At night, the area is pitch black and the only sounds that can be heard are from the insects wrestling with the long, green leaves that stretch across the land for miles and the occasional territorial dog barking.

The sweet owner offered to lend me a push bike to get me into the new town after my long bus journey from Chiang Rai. It was about 7pm and the sun had gone down. But he assured me in broken English that it wasn’t a far ride.

He wasn’t wrong. It’s not that far. If you know where you’re going / have the ability to see in the dark without light. But I’m dreadful at navigating, especially in the dark and with fragmented directions. In addition to the fact I couldn’t see a scooby, I also had to try and avoid being propelled into the water by the rockiest of dirt tracks on a very fragile bicycle.

Eventually I made it. Enjoyed meandering around the markets, picking at different exotic foods. But I was concious about the ride home, so didn’t stay long.

And in true classic Mac style, I got crazily lost on the route back – several times, ending up in multiple dead ends in the middle of nowhere. Typically, just when I thought I was on the right path, I took a wrong turn and ended up riding into a dead-end, surrounded by a pack of overly-protected, extremely aggressive hounds. In the dark, in the middle of nowhere with the aggressive protests of Thai dogs, I quite literally started to beg for my life / shit my pants haha.

After a few moments of acting like a terrified bunny, pleading with the dogs to not bite me / eat me / give me rabies I managed to pluck up the courage to cycle through them – with one chasing behind. I have no idea how much longer it took me to get back, but it certainly wasn’t a highlight of my trip.

Needless to say, I hired a moped for the remainder of my stay, took the long routes at night-time and popped a packet of Bonios in my bag for future hound attacks :D.

Moral of the story: do a bit of homework before getting somewhere. When I look back now I can laugh, but at the time I was totally freaked out. Not only was the area a bit unsafe at night, there was no common area for me to have met friendly, fellow travellers to explore with. Good accommodation exists in Sukhothai so it’s easy to avoid this.

If anyone has any recommendations on where to stay please feel free to comment!

 

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