AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Sukhothai to Ayutthaya


Posted on Jan 23, 2014

In an attempt to get fit we walked the one mile from the hotel (a 2 minute walk from the bridge in Sukhothai) to the bus station with our rucksacks. We are getting used to them now and can walk reasonable distances with the weight on our backs. There are two ways to get to the bus station, walk down the site of the main road which is busy and rather indirect or take the much shorter route down a number of back streets (we only managed this because I had maps and GPS on my phone). Upon reaching the bus station we bought bus tickets to Phitsanulok. The main train line from north to south is about 40 miles to the east of Sukhothai and goes through Phitsanulok, making it a regional transport hub. There is a regular bus service between Sukhothai and Phitsanulok so booking ahead is not required, simply turn up and ask for the bus. The bus journey was cheap, less than an hour long and best of all the bus driver wasn’t a psycho (the last bus driver must have been confused between his bus and a race car). All was going well until the bus drove past the bus terminal in Phitsanulok. (The bus did stop on the road opposite the bus terminal but we didn’t realise until it was too late). This was annoying because it’s only a 2km walk from the bus terminal to the train station, another walk we planned to do. I quickly went to ask the driver where we were going, he pointed in front and replied “bus terminal”. I guessed that as we were on a dual carriageway he’d drive down for a bit then do a U-turn and come back to the bus station. But no, we kept on going, further and further away from the city. Eventually the houses and shops were gone and replaced with fields. Then we turned off and pulled into Phitsanulok Terminal 2. Why the hell would anyone build a bus station so far out of town? (If you’re making this journey, ask for bus terminal 1 and be ready to get off the bus once you enter Phitsanulok, it’ll save a lot of time and hassle getting back into town). We couldn’t walk back to town (we were about 6km from the train station now) so caught a bus back into town. The bus had seen better days, flat out at 20mph it sounded like the engine was going to explode. The speed coupled with the least direct route into town meant the journey took almost an hour. The bus...

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Sukhothai: Si Satchanalai


Posted on Jan 23, 2014

We had booked two days in Sukhothai, the first for cycling around the historical city of Sukhothai, but the second day wasn’t so easy to fill. We had booked two days because one day in Sukhothai didn’t sound like enough time to properly explore, so we added another day and then played it by ear once there. Apart from the historical city there is nothing else to see or do in Sukhothai (that we could find). This probably explains the huge drop in tourist numbers. In Bangkok and Chiang Mai it was heaving with Aussies, Americans and many Europeans (plenty of Brits too), but in Sukhothai only the French and a few Germans had made the effort to visit. The only other interesting attraction in the area was the historical city of Si Satchanalai. This is located about 30 miles north of Sukhothai. Cue another long moped journey. We found a guesthouse (TR Guesthouse) which does moped hire in Sukhothai, for 200 baht (£3.70), even better it was only a 3 minute walk from our guesthouse. The ride was tougher than others we’d taken on this trip (this is the 5th day we’ve hired a moped out of about 80 days of travelling); the wind was far stronger making it incredibly loud and a bit wobbly at times. So we cruised at about 30mph and after an hour or so we arrived. Mopeds are fine for city riding, they are great for weaving through traffic and speeding away from traffic lights, but on longer journeys they are just annoying. As we rode down the small road into the historical park area we saw a restaurant and stopped for lunch. Two main meals, two Cokes and a bottle of water for £2. Si Satchanalai was inhabited at the same time as Sukhothai and followed the same plan as most cities in this region did. Lots and lots of Wats, plenty of Chedi (no idea what the plural is of chedi), which is the Thai word for a Stupa. Also in keeping with other historical cities in Southeast Asia only the temples were built from stone, all the other buildings of this vast city were made of wood and have long since rotted away leaving just the lonely remains of the many temples. We rode the moped around the site and then explored the larger ruins on foot, climbing many as possible. We then rode back to Sukhothai, taking it even easier this time to conserve fuel. I wanted to do the trip on just one tank of fuel and we had used just over half getting there and riding around, we...

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Sukhothai: Sukhothai Historical Park


Posted on Jan 20, 2014

We are staying in New Sukhothai which is about 12km (8 miles) from the old city of Sukhothai. Sukhothai was the capital of the Sukhothai Kingdom, one of the early kingdoms of Thailand and covered most of modern Thailand and Laos, from the Vietnamese border and well down the Malay peninsula. The kingdom survived for about 200 years, meaning Sukhothai was an important city for long enough to build some impressive buildings and be influenced by previous cultures as well as the many kingdoms across Southeast Asia. Like most old cities in Southeast Asia only the temples were built from stone, everything else was built from wood and has long since disappeared. The owner of the guesthouse we are staying in offered to take us to the old city, he drove us right up to the ticket office. Very nice of him! We rented a bike (30 baht each) and bought the tickets to get into the central section of the city (110 baht each) and off we cycled. Not bad, £2.60 each to see this huge site. We had decided not to buy the audio guide and started to regret that decision almost immediately after entering the park. Luckily, at the first temple we reached the sign had a QR Code which I scanned and it took me to a website, which also advertised an Android App for Sukhothai. I downloaded the app and it had a map of the site, then information about each ruin and some audio information. It probably wasn’t as informative as the audio guide but for free it good enough. We wandered around the first three temples then started feeling hungry. In most places we’ve visited we have found that food stalls exist everywhere. Wherever there are people you will find at least one stall selling food and one selling drinks. In the historical park we found a row of about 30, selling all manner of foods. Annemarie had an omelette and I had red curry, about £1.10 in total. We looked at another three temples after lunch then decided to leave the central section and go to the north section. Just outside the central section is a huge orchid market, filled with orchids in an array of colours. A short cycle from the orchid market we found another couple of temple ruins. By now, in the heat of the afternoon and with full stomachs we suddenly felt sleepy. A nice shaded spot under a tree provided the perfect location for an afternoon nap (luckily no ants came to nibble). After a 30 minute rest we wandered again, but far slower now, around...

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