On our way to Sukhothai
we stop at a little rice factory along the road. The people here have found a good way of gaining extra income by letting tourists walk around on their property. But non the less it is a nice visit. The factory is extremely small and old. The building itself is constructed mainly of wood and - with no disrespect - looks like the factories in Belgium did some 60 years ago. There are some modern machines around, and the rice is stored in plastic bags, but apart from that everything looks very old and is covered with thick layers of dust. If it wasn't for the roaming and sputtering machines, I'd say the place has been abandoned for years. Yet I can tell from the active working people that walk in and out, that this is not the case.
The whole scene feels very surrealistic to me, and for some reason brings a smile to my face. I'm going to think of this each time I eat rice from now on, no doubt. After a while of wondering around curiously, we get back in the bus and en route for our next destination.
The historical park of Sukhothai is frankly breathtaking, and an absolute must in my opinion. It is a very big site with many ruins and remainders of a golden age. This gives the area a special atmosphere, and even more in such beautiful weather as it is today. The sun is shining brightly and the sky is crystal clear. We all rent a bike to visit the Sukhothai park. This makes it a lot easier to get around from building to building, and it is also a lot of fun. After so many days walking around or sitting in a bus, just riding a bike is a welcome variation.
The bikes look funny but are surprisingly comfortable to ride. I had expected some old rusty bicycles that need five kicks to move a meter forward, but this is not the case. It is really easy to cruise around on them. I have found myself a bright red example, with the model of a child's bicycle but the size of an adult's bike. It looks quite funny but it rides like a race car. I took a bad start but maneuvered myself to the head of the group in no time. Again, victory is mine :)
Our first stop is the king Ramkhamhaeng Monument. It is a nice statue of the king, surrounded by flowers and ponds. Here too people sell animals to set free in order to gain good luck. Not birds this time, but fishes and frogs. I feel really sad for these animals, especially for the toads. I'm probably the only person in the world who thinks toads are cute, but I really do.
I'm crazy about reptiles and amphibians, ever since I got totally impressed by dinosaurs in primary school. And these toads are so big (we don't have these big ones in Belgium) and look so extremely sad while they put their little palms against the foggy plastic bags. I'm capable of buying every single bag and bicycle them to some save pond where no vendor will ever catch these little creatures again. But of course I can't do that, and setting these toads free in the pond at the statue is no use. People will just catch them back in the evening and sell them again the next day. Poor little animals...
Next stop on our bicycle tour is Wat Mahathat, the remainders of a huge temple complex. Again I am really impressed. The area is less magic than the three pagoda site in Ayutthaya
, but still really peaceful and stunning.
I'm a true architecture fan, really loving these places. Some people are already fed up with temples and ruins by now, but I just can't get enough of it. I could keep cruising this site all day, but after a while we bicycle on to Wat Sri Sawat, a Cambodian style temple a little further in the complex. This building to is really nice. We haven't visited much temples of this style before, although I know there were some in Ayutthaya, and I'm glad there is plenty of time to view this one. I like the form of the chedis and most of all the carvings on them, like the nagas. Apart from that all the buildings here in the Sukhothai park are surrounded by beautiful parks, lanes and ponds. It is a true pleasure walking around here, very green and peaceful. Same goes for our last stop, the Wat Sra Sri, with a nice stone Buddha statue and a traditional formed chedi at its back. We cruise around some more before returning to the bus.
We have dinner in a small restaurant by the river, before moving on. No time to waste, as we have a long ride ahead: way up north, to Chiang Rai
Enya - Now we are free