Thailand - Sukhothai and Si Satchanalai
I arrived in Sukhothai by minibus coming from Phi-lo - for only 40 THB. It was an easy 1 hour trip. Unfortunately the bus terminal in Sukhothai is far away from town and I had long discussions with different drivers till I finally found the cheapest option to town - the minibus. The driver agreed to trop me in front of the T.R. guesthouse but was angry with me in the end because I had already booked my room beforehand and he could not get any commision.
The T.R. guesthouse is a very nice guesthouse in a peaceful location in the new part of Sukhothai near the bridge. The young couple running the guesthouse was extremely nice and helpful. And as I immediately loved the relaxed atmosphere and my nice room I decided to stay a night longer. My first aim was to get a nice massage - but the place recommended in the guidebook was already "fully booked". Therefore, I walked around the area and found sort of a college where a lot of things were happening: guys were playing football, a lot of people were around, the police was observing all the hustle and bustle. They even had some matrasses in a hall where a lot of people were lying down for a massage. That was the perfect place - I booked the massage for 1,5 hour. Nice! It was a real thai-relax massage, that means a thai massage without the pain ;-). After half an hour suddenly I felt 4 hands treating my body. Wow, 2 ladies were working on my bad back. It would have been very relaxing, but the 2 ladies were talking and laughing all time. Well, it was fun at least and the massage wasn't too bad. I even learned why the thai language is so difficult: one lady was called Poo - that was easy. But the other one was called "Bonn", you write it PLE and it means "apple". And all this written in thai letters - I will never learn this language. After the massage I watched the activities around this place - the group fitness was good fun to watch. I ended the day with a nice beer at the guesthouse.
Next day I took the minibus to Old Sukhothai and rented a bicycle to visit the world famous ruins. The entrance to the Historical Parc is extremely touristy. There are food stalls and bicycle rentals. But once in the parc it was very relaxed and peaceful with only few visitors around. In the original „old town“ there are some well preserved wats, some of them are really impressive. In the areas north and west a lot of wats are extremely destroyed. Partly, just some old stones are lying randomly on the ground. The area is widely spread but with the bicycle it was great fun.
Back to the old town I enjoyed another massage. THB 200 for 1 hour - that is 6 swiss francs. And in Switzerland a massage ist between 60 - 120 swiss francs! In the evening I went to the nightmarket in search of something to eat. A nice banana pancake and some fruits was my choice for the evening and was as little as 40 THB. Back in the guesthouse I checked my mails - but they closed the lobby at 9 pm. So I went out to look for a nice beer stop. I did not feel like hanging around with all the farangs at the Chopper bar. Therefore, I ended up at Poo's. I shared some big bottles of beer with the 68 year old Jean Pierre, a french guy living in the Netherlands who is married to a thai lady since 22 years. Currently he is opening his own ressort in Sukhothai „Chez Ton Ton (Jean Pierre) Resort; firstname.lastname@example.org“.
I enjoyed my time in Sukhothai so much, that I decided to stay a third night to visit the ruins in Si Satchanalai. Therefore, the next day I went to the busterminal at 9.30 am to get the bus at 10.30. Well the bus did not arrive. Someone told me it was coming at 10.30 am, than 11 am - till I finally gave up. The last bus back from Si Satchanalai was at 4 pm. It did not make any sense to take a bus at midday for 100 ks and go back after approx. 1 hour in Si Satchanalai. I decided to visit the ruins the following day on my way to Lampang. The lady selling the bus tickets told me to be at the busterminal at 9 am to be sure to get the bus.
I walked back to town and decided to use my time for a visit at the hairdressers and another fabulous aroma massage. Then, I just chilled in the lobby, had a couple of drinks and updated the blogs. At night I went again to the nightmarket and ended my time in Sukhothai with a drink at the Choppers bar.
The next morning at 8.30 I was back at the busterminal. The lady selling the tickets recognized me, gave me the ticket and helped me to find the right bus. And here I was, on the road again. After 1,5 hours I reached a small hut near Si Satchanalai. Here, I could rent a bicycle and leave my backpack safely. 300 meters onwards, after having crossed the large hanging bridge, I saw the first wat: Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat Chaliang. The not so well known Si Satchanalai is situated 55km north of Sukhothai and was founded in the 13/14th century for the wedding of the king as his residence. Since 1991 it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage. About 3 ks down the river you will find the "center" of the parc with really impressive buildings. Personally, I was impressed by the amazingly green landscape and the peace. I just loved it.
After some Fried Rice Curry with Chicken for lunch, I had to hurry back to the hut to catch the bus at 2 pm as I already had a date for the evening with a friend of my sister who is living in Lampang. The bus was on time - but the minute I stepped in the fight for the fare started again. But we finally agreed on a good price and half an hour later I arrived in Uttaradit. There, I had to change the bus for Lampang. But the next 2 buses were all fully booked and I did not want to wait for more than 3 hours. I quickly decided to take a tuk-tuk to the train station. There was a Chiang Mai bound train at 2.45pm. As the trains are always late I supposed I could make it on that train. Just in time I arrived at the train station, got a ticket and even had time for a pit stop at the loo. This is just-in-time travelling in Thailand - I made it to Lampang in the evening :-).