On February 1st we headed for Sukhothai by bus.
The room arrangements suggested a vibrant mosquito population.
Luckily the skeeter hordes never really showed up!! There were a few but overall far fewer than in Chiang Mai (which is infested).
On February 2nd we borrowed bikes from the hotel (not free, though we thought they were at the time), and headed out at around 8:00. Hotel breakfast was horrible so we stopped for a quick bite at a coffee shop just before Sukhothai. After a short ride further we caught our first glimpse of a Wat.
Next we reached the ticket office and learned that the "all areas" pass had been cancelled in favor of the "pay to enter each area and pay to bring your bike into each area" plan. Lame. More profitable to the locals doubtless.
Almost immediately on entering the main area we started to see the ruins!
By this time it was bloody hot and we were all rather thirsty so we headed in search of lunch and cold water. Luckily in Thailand anything you want to buy someone wants to sell you so we were able to get Thai food, iced mocha, and even ice cream. Ice cream on a not-so-cold Thai day is a wonderful thing. While eating we watched a lady pulling boiled bits of something out of a pot and piling them. Rod went to enquire about what it was and learned it was pork. She offered a sample and we then learned it was rather spicy sweet pork with a semi-crispy texture, almost like candied pork.
Wat Mangkorn, one of the main attractions on the West side:
A few locals pulled past in a sweet ride.
At about this point it was so hot that Pavan & Tanya were a bit tired and Rod had to make a water-run back to the main section.
Just after Wat Mankorn the road curves North, with a series of Wats along it. Many of these are up hills so as the baking sun and dust wasn't enough we decided to make a game of trying to jog up the hill to the Wat as we parked at each one.
Our last stop was Wat Saphan Hin. Naturally it had a rather nasty hill to try to run up. By this time it was about 4:30pm, we'd been riding in the heat since morning, and were all rather tired. Nobody made it further than about 60% jogging.
After this we headed for home. On the way we stopped at a roadside store to grab what may possibly have been the best beer ever and to admire the variety of Lays available.
Nothing like a "Spicy Seafood", "Sweet Basil", "Hot Chili Squid", or "Nori Seaweed" chips!
For no apparent reason houses are on stilts sometimes. Rain barely looks like a risk, let alone flooding!
On the way home we blundered into a free area containing a rather cool Wat, Wat Sorasek, with Elephants arrayed all around it.
In the evening we went to a restaurant in New Sukhothai (a few km away). The food was good and it turned out to be owned by a Tintin fan! Pictures of Tintin covers and the like adorned the walls in a number of places. Rod loved it.
After this we decided on a whim to take a short tour on a motorcycle based conveyance where the passengers sit in front. It's a strange position to ride in!
On February 3rd we got up and grabbed breakfast. Opposite the breakfast restaurant was the rather novel municipal building for the area.
Next we headed over to the North (and final) side. We got a relatively early start so we got to enjoy a cool period until 9 or 9:30 when the heat kicks in.
The highlight of the North side is Wat Phra Phai Luang. It sits in a moated area, around which a road runs. Various other, smaller, Wats are scattered around the side of the road.
Wat Sri Chum was also quite nice. Big Buddha ... and painted dog!
The Thuriang Kiln was a nice change of pace. It was at the end of a dusty road that appeared to leave nowhere initially.
Wat Sangkhawat was cool because to reach it one rode in along a little dirt road a fair ways.
After we admired the Wat and were just about to head back we realized there was more Wat further down the road!!
That was about the end of the West side. We headed back for the hotel to pack up, checkout, and grab a bus back to Chiang Mai. Along the way back we spotted a nice Wat of unknown name.
The bus back was reached without issue but it was rather low on seats so we got the luxury seating at the back of the bus. As it turned out this meant that we could stretch out and try to sleep so it wasn't that bad. After a few hours enough people were off the bus we got seats.
The plan is to spend the night in Chiang Mai at the same hotel as before (where we left most of our baggage during the Sukhothai trip) and in the early early morning catch a taxi out to the Thai Elephant Conservation Center for our mahout course!!