Sukhothai : 'I like to ride my bicycle, I love to ride my bike.'
Sukhothai Travel Blog› entry 96 of 268 › view all entries
âOh boy-oh boy! What a fabulous way to while away the day!â
You now find me in Sukhothai, a sizeable town just off the main north-south rail line somewhere between Chiang Mai and Bangkok. I have once more bidden farewell to my âhome away from homeâ SpicyThai Backpackers Hostel. I arrived in Sukhothai âNew Townâ by public bus here yesterday afternoon after a loooong ride down from Chiang Mai. Most amenities and accommodation you will seek out will be based here. The âNew Townâ itself has little much to commend itself. An interesting(ish) wat/ temple or so; some bustling street and night markets and a river with very poor pedestrian access.
But none of this is what we Tourists head to Sukhothai for! A short bus ride out to the eastern outskirts of the town brings you to the Old City, or Sukhothai Historical Park, a sprawling acreage of seemingly endless brick and stone Buddhist wats, columns, chedis and statuary in various states of completeness and well-tended preservation. Today is gonna be fun for a whole bunch of reasons Iâm sure, but chiefly because wisdom has it that unless youâre a serious glutton for punishment on the old pinkies, the only serious way to get about the Historical Park is by hiring a bicycle.
Now me and bikes. We donât get on super famously. Itâs me with the problem in the relationship. Not them. And itâs been a good decade and longer I think since I was on one of these contraptions. Being ever so slightly deficient in the inner leg length measurement department I always made a might difficult time of being comfortable on bikes.
A Tale : I was never really comfortable with hoiking my leg over a cross bar of most bikes set before me as a kid growinâ up. Manyâs the time I would teeter, wobble and collapse to the ground. Nor did I ever attack this problem with enough balls to come up with some kinda mounting technique to get over this unlike some of my bolder, bicycled chums.
[ Cue movie style flashback of flickering, scratchy âSuper 8â Cinecam footage of notably psychologically scarring childhood eventâŚ ] I guess most of my âdislike of bikeâ came from the fact that owing to my diminuative nature, beyond a certain age I always had a bike that was the teeniest one in town. This point was often and in humourlessly hammered home to me with all the wit and sensitivity that only a class of 8 years olds can muster during the dreaded week of our primary school Cycling Proficiency lessons and test. My cycling pride was a little stung to say the least and, and I spent every day for a week a burning bright blush of embarrassment.
But, hey thatâs all in the past! And if Iâm to get the most outta today, itâs gonna have to be perched on a bicycle made for one. After emphasising as best as I can that I need a âlekâŚ lekâŚ lek maakâ ( âsmallâŚ smallâŚ very smallâ ) bike, I finally end up with one that I wonât be in too much danger of cracking my b***ocks on every time I go to do the old up ânâ over today. And whilst the saying of course goes âyou never forget how to ride a bikeâ, this nonetheless doesnât relinquish the need to wobble around like a complete twonk for 5 minutes getting the hang of things again!âŚ
âŚ but ooooh the freedom! The joy! Peddling out onto the wide roads and pathways.
Sukhothai Historical Park for whatever reason (presumably making as much money as possible?) is sub-divided into 5 different geographical areas.
The Park really is a beautiful, beautiful place to spend time in. A large expanse of superbly well-tended green grass areas, shaded groves of trees of all kinds, wide cycle paths and âavenuesâ. Aside from the cultural, spiritual and historical significance of the site (of which I must confess to little knowledge of) it is just a pure pleasure to cycle endlessly about the Park grounds admiring the elegantly spaced out harmony of it all.
Now it seems in all my biking and photographic buzz I neglected to make many notes to inform and/ or educate you about the sights and history of Sukhothai, and Iâm not really one for (often) cheatinâ by Google-gleaning info for my blogs retro-actively. Sorry! Still, all the more reason to act on my recommendation and make sure that you make your way there should ever find yourselves in Thailand!
Iâve got a sketchy photocopied map of the place though so here goes.
I spend a good few hours happily cycling around amidst the unending parade of history, and then when I feel saturated âwith all thatâ I just continue to cycle a couple hours longer around the green expanse of the Park on my âPower Tech Aero Bikeâ for the sake of fun of it and the rush of the wind past my ears, the ground beneath my feet and laying childhood ghosts to rest. Within the loosely defined Park confines also are little âstreetsâ of residential enclaves. Local families and livestock scratching around. These are worth a peek too.
As a point of note I have heard it said that âoh man, youâll never do Sukhothai in a day!â but trust me, Iâm no speed tourist and I loved this place so much but I assure you, you will be able to get all the pleasure you need from this fab site in one days activity even if (unlike me) you buy a ticket for the whole extent of the park.
Eventually I feel itâs time to cycle away and hand my bike back. Happy not to have cack-handedly collapsed off it once in the course of the day! A sleep-inducingly slow bus back into town and then I take to my heels and stroll a little way back out to a swimming pool indicated on my map. Itâs a glorious afternoon and for a bargainous 40 Baht (80p) I have a large open air pool all to myself. I dive into the cool, refreshing waters with the sun beating down on me and paddle about soothing my pedal-punished feet and saddle-sore arse. Happy happy days people. Happy happy days.