Sunday, March 29, 2009


Sukhothai is a city in Northern Thailand, which I went to after visiting Chiang Mai. While Sukhothai and Chiang Mai both have a lot of old temples, for a tourist that's about as far as the relationship goes. Chiang Mai is a large vibrant city, with a large amount of attractions – actually, for most tourists, the nearby trekking is the highlight. Sukhothai is a one-horse provincial city that happens to be built next to the ruins of the ancient Thai capital and its numerous stone temples.

But that's not to denigrate these ruins – they date back seven hundred years, and in terms of beauty, convenience, and general pleasantness, if not scale, I ended up appreciating these ruins more than those of Angkor Wat, in Cambodia. The comparison isn't specious – I can't claim anthropological expertise, but many of the temples were built in the same time frame, at a time when the Khmer culture, from its capital in Angkor, dominated South-East Asian culture.

I don't want to delve too much into Thai history, I'll just attach a few of favorite pictures:

What also made my visit interesting was that I visited during a large festival, where people from all over Thailand flooded into the city, and at night the ruins were lit up. I found all the celebrations very underwhelming, honestly, but it contributed to a festival-type atmosphere.

I ended up staying in a very nice, low-key guest house called “No. 4 Guest House,” for the grand total of about $6 per night. I grabbed the last room, and I was afterwards told by another guest that it was the only place in town with rooms left - I guess I narrowly avoided disaster! Despite being not too far off the main road, there were a number of rural Thai-style houses nearby, and it was overlooking farmland - temporarily flooded, I'd guess for the production of rice.

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