martedì 8 gennaio 2013

Twelfth Day, Sukhothai Quanto T'Amai

Which means: Sukhothai how much I loved you. In Italian, not in Thai.

A very good day spent in Sukhothai.

Like all good days, it started with a run. 7k, apparently a man can't run more when he eats spicy Thai food.

First I ran along Yom river, where rice fields were enlightened by a clean rising sun. After the tenth strayed dog who followed me, and the fifth fighting cock, I decided to move back to the city. Rabid is one of the scary diseases the guide suggests to avoid.

On the way back I made a stop at the bus station, where I bought the ticket to Chiang Mai.

Big surprise of the day, between the bus station and the hostel there was a local market. Fresh meat, live catfish, fruit and vegetable shown to anyone who wasn't a farang (a foreigner). There is no mention of this market on the guide, of course.

I bought a dragon fruit and a big pineapple for 40 baht (1 euro). Didn't even bargain, usually I can't have them together for less than 2 euro.

At the hostel I asked for a breakfast set (yoghurt and coffee), a dish and a knife. They brought me a big one. Peeling the fruit was even more enjoyable than eating it.

This amazing breakfast had an undesired effect: when I left the hostel was already 9.30.

The plan for the day was to visit the archaeological site. Sukhothai was the first capital of the unified kingdom of Thailand. It didn't last long, but it was a powerful and wealthy city. Its power declined in the XIV century, when its last king was more interested in Theravada Buddhism than in maintaining law and order. Which means also that during his reign several temples were built. All in Sukhothai.

I arrived at the historical park at 10.30, after a ride in the slowest and strangest bus I've ever seen: a sort of big tuk tuk, with engines slighter more powerful and room for twenty people.

The sun was already strong when I rented the bicycle. But it didn't matter much. Most of the streets around the temples had leafy trees and the many canals and lakes helped refreshing the area.

The site was very well kept and the audio guide extremely useful. Nothing compared to Angkor, Cambodia, for magnificence, but still worth visiting.

I was back to the new town already at 2 p.m.. I tried to eat in two places highly recommended by the guide. Both closed, though they weren't supposed to be.

I stopped at a local cafè; ran by nice young girls. The coconut curry spicy soup was Thai spice, definitely not western spice. Never sweated so much for some food.

The atmosphere was very easy and pleasant. Bossa nova music as back ground, a local guy watching The Big Bang Theory on his iPad, and no one who bothered you. A place where the young middle class of Sukhothai can relax in a mild western atmosphere.

Another great place of Sukhothai was the guesthouse where I was staying. It is worth mentioning it. Ban Thai Guesthouse. All in teak, nice clean and quiet rooms, good breakfast, very friendly hosts. I stayed there for one night and they let me keep the bag in a safe place for the whole day. I spent another hour there, before leaving by bus, charging my mobile and having some rest. They didn't ask for anything and greeted me nicely. I tried to leave a tip at breakfast, for the big knife, and the host declined it. Definitely a friendly place.

The bus to Chiang Mai was an ordinary one. Less fancy than the bus from Bangkok to Sukhothai, but still decent.

I fall asleep right after sitting there. Unfortunately my sleep didn't last long. The same can't be said about the travel. 6 long hours on safe but noisy roads.

I was so looking forward for having a hot shower in Chiang Mai.

And finally I had it. Right after a warm pad thai at a hawker next to the guest house.

Chiang Mai is much colder than Bangkok, or even Sukhothai. At night temperature can go down to 15 degrees. Wait a second, what's the weather like in Italy right now?

Enough for the day. See you tomorrow in Chiang Mai.

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