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Friday February 11th, 2000 to Sunday February 13th, 2000
Wat Sa Si, Sukhothai, Thailand

February brought a 3 week teaching break for me and a vacation for my parents, who came to visit. We began by seeing the sights of Bangkok: the markets, the food, the palaces, and the river. Then we headed north to Sukhothai, Thailand's capital from the mid 13th until the late 14th century. The word "Sukhothai" means "rising of happiness," and the Sukhothai period is still viewed today as the golden age of Thai civilization, during which religious art and architecture flourished with an unprecedented beauty and grace.

Although the original town is no longer inhabited (it's now a national park, and a designated UNESCO world historical site), a new Sukhothai has sprung up near the park to cater to the tourists who come to see the ruins. We visited both Sukhothai Historical Park and nearby Si Satchanalai-Chaliang Historical Park via rented bicycle. They were the Wicked Witch of the West style bikes, complete with baskets, and were a wee bit rickety. Dad's multi-talentedness shone through as he mastered the art of riding his bike and shooting video footage at the same time. I spent the whole day taking veritable photographic masterpieces while ignoring the complaints of the unartistic in the company who constantly whined about at the length of time it took to focus.

Si Satchanalai-Chaliang, near Sukhothai, Thailand

The ruins are incredible and numerous: fields and fields of them. Most of the large ones are maintained; however it was not uncommon for us to stumble across smaller, unmaintained sites during the course of our visit. It's amazing to think that there are so many 700-800 year old ruins that UNESCO and the Thai government can't even maintain them all. Aside from multitudinous temples and the odd palace, we also visited the site of an old kiln (the region has long been, and in fact still is, famous for the pottery that is produced there), and an enigmatic, but very deep, archaeological pit. Mom saw a cobra near one of the temples, but other than being constantly thirsty (sated only briefly by warm, sunbaked water that had acquired that pleasant plastic flavour), it was a great 2 days.

From Sukhothai Noah headed back to Bangkok via direct bus, a far more efficient route than his trip up there Friday night had taken. Mom, dad and I had left for Sukhothai early Friday morning in a train that was comfortable, air conditioned, and served meals; Noah, having had to work on Friday, took an overnight government bus on Friday night. Whether through miscommunication, deception, or simple inefficiency (you can never be quite sure which it is in Thailand), he arrived at 4:30am in a town called Utaradit, 3hrs north of Sukhothai. After 3hrs of hanging around the bus station he was able to get a local bus that made its way, very slowly, to Sukhothai.

Cathedral-like ruins in Si Satchanalai-Chaliang, near Sukhothai, Thailand

Mom, Dad, and I took a bus north from Sukhothai to Chiang Mai, where we arrived mid-afternoon and got settled at the Rama guesthouse. We ate some great food, and then headed to the night market, famous for it's variety and prices. Being fluent in Thai numbers (unfortunately that's where my fluency ends) facilitates bartering, and I helped mom and Dad spend their hard earned cash with impressive rapidity; we walked away with some great deals and a lot of stuff.

The next day I hopped a train back to Bangkok and left Mom and Dad to take a 3 day trek through the mountains northwest of Chiang Mai.

More information about Thailand is available on the About Thailand page; you might want to have a look at it if you haven't already.

You might wish to look at the Sukhothai photos in the photo album.

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