Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Rising Happiness

Day 154
Sukhothai to Sukhothai Historical Park
Time: 1:31:00
Distance: 25.39 km
Avg Speed: 16.7 kph
Terrain: Flat

Despite the Singha beer from last night’s dinner and show, we were up early again this morning. We figure we’re going to have to get back to our usual operating hours – early to bed, early to rise. The heat is just too much to take in the afternoons. Our goal for the day was to do some sightseeing at a nearby archaeological site. We had coffee and rolls at the gas station cafĂ© and then rolled west out of town. Gas station food? Yes, and it was good.
Thirty minutes later we arrived in the old town, the original site of Sukhothai which means “rising happiness”. The town was founded in the middle of the 13th century and saw the emergence of the Thai nation in the 14th century. During its heyday, the military influence stretched as far as Vientiane, Laos. Art, architecture and the Thai alphabet were also developed during this important time. As different rulers aged and new dynasties were created, Sukhothai handed over power and influence to the town of Ayutthaya, just north of Bangkok.
Our visit started out a bit wet. Soon after we bought our tickets, the skies opened up and the rain didn’t stop for two hours. We spent part of the time near one of the Khmer style temples and the rest of the time in the nearby market. We purchased plastic rain ponchos (pink for me and blue for Chris) to avoid being totally soaked. The time passed quickly as we were thoroughly entertained by the comings and goings of various locals and tourists.
Finally the deluge subsided and we made a go of it. The ruins were really fascinating and the surviving temples are beautiful reminders of a golden era in Thailand. It was fun and challenging to try to image what each site may have looked like in the 14th century. What remains today is a mix of brick and plaster buddhas, chedis and stupas. Some sites had all three components while others only had one or two. Since we are new to eastern philosophy and culture we don’t know all of the details about what was present and what may have been missing. I’m sure we’ll acquire a lot of information as we go - stay tuned. We’ll be living it and learning it together.
Khawp khun kha (thank you in Thai),

No comments: