Being architecture lovers, we had the urge to see with our eyes where the Siamese (or Thai as it’s now called) architectural style first began.
The ancient city of Sukhothai – Sukhothai Muang Kao – (or I’d better say what is left of it) was the place to go. In fact the old Sukhothai (not to be confused with the new city a few KM away from the historical part) was the capital of the very first Kingdom of Siam back in the 13th – 14th centuries, you are reading it correctly, it really is that old!
Coming from the busy Bangkok, we were quite excited to see something quite different, in fact the UNESCO World Heritage Sukhothai Historical Park is one of the places where you can still see ruins from ancient Thailand. Definitely a different site from the city traffic and the chaos of the hectic everyday life.
Entry fee paid (100 Baht), map collected, water and little snacks bought, off we go!
Most people will & did suggest to us that the best way to see the park is by bike, but we preferred walking around the area as we usually choose to do.
The first thing that caught our attention as we entered was a giant statue of Buddha sitting in the middle of the Wat Mahathat, surrounded by remaining columns of the original temple, parts of brick walls, many other Buddhas and what used to be a surrounding moat.
I felt so tiny in comparison to it, I closed my eyes and I tried to picture in my head how it would had looked in way back when it was brand new; not an easy task.
We were quite surprised to see how well maintained the ruins are considering their age, we then learnt that some of the monuments have been restored.
It is good to see how people care to preserve what is left from their past no matter if it is for commercial reasons or not, it’s still important that they do so they’re not lost.
There are other temples in the park like Wat Sa Si, different because of its location and that the only way to get to it is by crossing a wooden bridge, and also Wat Si Sawai which surprised us a lot.
In fact, Wat Si Sawai has a completely different kind of style from the traditional Thai architecture. It was originally a Hindu temple that became Buddhist only during the Sukhothai kingdom, we could tell it didn’t really fit with the neighborhood, I guess it can be seen as a good way to ‘recycle’ buildings instead of destroying them and building a new one in its place. Clever! 🙂
It felt kind of weird standing on this large green park speckled with some ruins, ponds and Buddha’s statues which used to be where the people of Sukhothai used to live, work and die.
It is a real shame that actually a large part of it doesn’t exist any more, at the same time though it’s good to be able to see at least what hasn’t been lost to the winds of time.
I felt very relaxed being in Sukhothai enjoying the nature and the occasional shade of the trees while going from one Wat to the other at our own pace.
It was like having stepped back in the past not only for the sites around us, but also for the lack of the relentless noises of the modern day; like the ringing of a mobile phone, the breaking of a car or the beeping of car horns.
There were other people in the park, but it wasn’t crammed with tourists which it made a massive change after being in places like Khao San Road or the temples area in Bangkok, where if you want to take a picture you’d better queue.