We found another nice hotel that we had to dish out $10 a night for, and we settled in for a few days.
The new city is nothing special. Just a cool little town with some nice food stalls and small market areas. The old town is 15 km away. It was the first capital of Siam and flourished in the 13th and 14th centuries. It is now a historical park that sprawls over several square miles and it took us a couple of days to explore.
The first day we walked around the main portion of the site in what was the city center. The ruins are amazing and well preserved and restored. But what was really impressive were the grounds of the park. As we walked from wat to wat, we strolled along pathways that wound through high arching trees and along large lotus filled ponds. We got to see two of almost everything as the stupas and chedis were reflected in the numerous pools and ponds. It was a great day. But by the end of it we were exhausted and ready to shower and fall into bed.
The next day we rented a scooter/moped/not cool version of a motorcycle so we could check out some of the more distant portions of the Historical Park. We were a little nervous, putting Lindsey's life in my hands in such an obvious way, but it was fine. There are more scooters and dirt bikes on the road than there are cars, so it wasn't too intimidating. I've ridden motorcycles a few times and I rode a scooter around the Amalfi Coast, but this was in heavy traffic and was a little more challenging. But aside from swallowing several courses of insects and breathing lung-burning smog, we didn't have any problems. And we were able to get out and see the country side. We could tell we were in areas that didn't see very many tourists because people gawked to a degree that is shocking even in Thailand. But they also waved and smiled profusely.
It was a great day.
Now we're off to Um Phang. We leave tomorrow morning for a nice 8 or 9 hour trek into the jungle. No buses go there so we get to ride in the back of a pick-up truck for four hours down a bumpy road. I hear it's unpaved and incredibly dangerous. So tell my parents I love them and that they should have never let me leave. Can't you keep your 28-year-old under control?
We'll post from Mae Sot in a week or so.
According to our Lonely Planet, Sukhothai was not to be missed. So we took a train a few hours north (it took 5 hours instead of 3) and then a bus to New Sukhothai. We weren't pleased with having spent the entire day traveling, but the bus ride from Phitsanulok to Sukhothai made our displeasure melt away. The view from our seats was stunning. The light of the descending sun bathed miles and miles of rice paddies in an orange glow. The vast fields were sparsely dotted with thinly leafed trees that cast skeleton shadows on the earth. The sun burned dark red, but as it disappeared behind low, rolling hills in the distance, the color faded. Pink light crawled over the horizon toward us, but turned to mist as it tumbled down the hills. The ethereal vapor poured into the valley of rice paddies, swirling into pools, then creeping in streams into every crevice of the land before us. It was quite lovely. If you like that sort of thing.