Yesterday afternoon was hard to take in terms of tourist tolerance. At first, I did not feel welcome in the old city. Then again, I did have a good time there, cycling around between the temple ruins.
Still, there were some incidents that made me feel uneasy. It had to do with two rude guesthouse hosts. One of them, at Old City GH, didn’t really care and when he finally got around to show me a room, it wasn’t in a very friendly manner. He opened the door, said ‘250’ and left. At Vitoon Guesthouse, I was confronted with a man yelling at me for trying to negotiate, as I had learned it in Krungtep (Bangkok). Well, I guess two ‘bad’ experiences in three months is not too bad. But it’s hard to take on a single day, anyway.
I left and left my backpack at the reception at Boutique hotel and rented a bicycle. Went straight to the historical park of old sukhothai (sukho-happiness, uthai-dawn). Happiness dawns on the visiting traveller when s/he rides a bike through palm alleys and around lakes to wonder at the immensity of the chedis and statues. And yet again, one afternoon is enough. For me at least.
So the next I rent a scooter to drive southwest, to check out the park at Kamphaeng Phet, situated some 70km from New Sukhothai.
More ruins of statues, of stupas and of temples. Disintegration in process. Continuous destruction and restructuring. Time takes its toll.
What is different from the sites in Sukhothai tourist attraction is the fact that this place is simply not attracting many people. At the entrance there is only a map in Thai script available. During the three hours I am there I come across locals helping with excavation and maintenance tasks. A woman shows me a guide book in Thai script and describes the map. I meet 2 (two) Asian couples on bicycles as well. We exchange greetings. Sawat dii khap 🙂 One big bus passes by and two mini vans park in front of a site. A park ranger on his motorbike smiles at me and bows while driving. And in between these happenings…
… Wonderful silence.
I listen to a light blue bird chirping in the crown of a tree. I can hear a leaf falling to the ground, joining the others already resting there, transforming into something else. I feel the sun shine on my skin and the hot air filling my lungs. I feel sweaty and I feel fine.
Some time during the day, I drive thru the city to get some food (simple rice with veggies: kao pak) and to the other two sites… Wat Phra Kaeo & Wat Phra Tat. Now I read the Wikipedia article but if you’re actually there… breathing the magnificent air… it is something entirely else. You have to be there to believe it – these sculptures and structures shine forth through the ages. They are not only huge in regards to perimeter. They are immense in their ambience.
In the shade, I sit down and read the last few pages of Plutarch: Die Kunst zu leben. The final chapter is called “Das Gastmahl der Sieben Weisen”, a meeting of Aesop, Bias, Chilon, Diokles, Kleobulos, Pittakos, Periander, Solon, Thales, and some more. and in the very last pages of that chapter the singer and lyra artist Arion escapes by hurling himself off a ship and is brought safely to the shore by dolphins.