Going on holiday outside of Thailand wasn't really possible this summer. Well, it was possible to get out and go just about anywhere, but getting back would then be nigh on impossible. I can confirm that you don't get much sympathy when you moan about HAVING to go on holiday in Thailand. However; I don't hugely like beaches.... Great for a morning but after that, I'm bored and we've been to most of the other major sites. This is might well end up being the first time in 20 years we spend a whole year in one country! We might get away in October but I wouldn't bet money on it.
One of the places we'd been planning on going to this year anyway was Chang Rai but up until now that's not been do-able. So here we are.
The place was pretty much deserted! We didn't literally have the hotel to ourselves but pretty much did. Walking around, we rarely saw another pedestrian, tourist sites were deserted, so all-in-all that worked out OK for me. We did notice that apart from restaurant and hotel staff very few people wore masks (although we didn't see many people out and about either!). In central Bangkok pretty much everyone does. Another difference was the lack of motorbike helmets: Virtually nobody wore them either. It's been a discussion point here: The Government has stopped Covid but done nothing about road deaths which daily claim the same as the total number of Covid deaths in the country and they are usually motorbike riders.
The big tourist draws to Chang Rai are all colour related. There's the Blue temple, the Black House and the big daddy of them all; the White Temple. All are cool in their own way, but we'll start with the White Temple... Which for some reason they weren't charging even foreigners for when we there.... Usually its free for Thais and foreigners pay 100 baht.
One of the nice things about here is that on some evenings Sukhothai is lit up.
So, a nice simple post this time. A series of pics from the sights we had seen earlier on the Saturday but this time at night. The only problem with this is being bitten. If you do go and want to see it at (The day time ticket is still valid for re-entry btw), then bring the mozzy spray.
A year ago we bobbled up to Ayutthia for a couple days on our way up to Chang Mai. This used to be the capital of Thailand until it got sacked by those naughty Cambodians. Now, don't get me wrong, Ayutthai is great but Sukhothai is really amazing.
In Thai, Sukhothai means 'dawn of happiness' and the whole thing is a UNESCO world heritage site. . The ruins are spread across 70 sq KM and there are more than 190 separate ruins. This makes a bike an excellent way to see many of the ruins. All the hotels hire them out for about 50 baht (a quid) per day. The main site is the walled area that used to be the Royal palace.
Somewhat bizarrely, but obviously correctly, Wikipedia starts its introduction to the History of Sukhotahi as being before Ice Cream! I'm not making this up!. Historians now believe that this important trading town started its secession form the Khymer empire about 900 years ago. Traditional Thai historians considered the founding of the Sukhothai Kingdom as the beginning of the Thai nation because little was known about the kingdoms prior to Sukhothai. Modern historical studies demonstrate that Thai history began before Sukhothai. Yet the foundation of Sukhothai is still a celebrated event.
There is a small admission charge but its valid all day so you can have a cycle round, nip off for a refreshing coffee und kuchin and then todal back, wander, go home for a swim, and come back again. System works well.
Whilst the ruins are spectacular... particularly at night when, if you go at the right time they are floodlight (see next post), it is the quality of the carving that I really liked. For example, please see exhibit 1, below:
Well, its been a while!
The temple dates back to the Ayutthaya era, when it was known as Wat Sakae. When Bangkok became the capital, King Rama I renovated the temple and gave it its present name. Phu Khao Thong (Golden mountain, ภูเขาทอง) is a steep artificial hill inside the Wat Saket compound. Rama I's grandson, King Rama III, decided to build a chedi of huge dimensions inside Wat Saket, but the chedi collapsed during construction because the soft soil of Bangkok could not support the weight. The hill was built out of the mud dug out to make the canal network around Bangkok. During the reign of King Rama IV, construction began of a small chedi on the hill. It was completed early in the reign of his son, King Rama V. A relic of the Buddha was brought from Sri Lanka and placed in the chedi. The surrounding concrete walls were added in the 1940s to stop the hill from eroding.
This place was really amazing.... AND free!
I think for most people this is a day trip from Kandy but we stopped on the way down from a disappointing few days t'up North. It might have been the weather which was atrocious, or the fact that I constantly felt I was being ripped off and seeing nothing much in return.
This was much better, partly at least because the sun came out. It is a steep climb up to the cave. The guidebooks are a bit sniffy about the huge Buddha at the bottom of the hill. It is huge and it does look plastic. However, once you've climbed up its like nothing else I've seen.
First morning in Ayutthaya and a (reasonably) early start to avoid the hordes.
This first isn't really a Wat any more but it does have an amazing, pretty massive (42m long) reclining Buddha.
Just over the road from Wat Ratchaburna is, what is probably the most photographed sights in Ayatthaya, Wat Maha That.
Again, it is demi-derelict, well, pretty much totally derelict, actually. I love the huge torso-less Buddha in the picture below.
There are numerous Stupas to wander around and, although this was one of the busier sites it was still not too over crowded despite being there on a bank holiday weekend.
Wat Pho is remarkable. It has sprawling grounds dotted with stunning stupas (see future post) and the amazing reclining Buddha. This is Bangkok's oldest and largest wat. It is surprisingly quiet and peaceful for all that.
As regular readers will know I do love a nice Buddha statue and this is a goody.
Wat Traimit in the heart of Bangkok's China town is home to the worlds largest gold statue. A 3m high gleaming gold Buddha worth something in the 10s of millions in gold alone.
This is the world's largest Buddha at 71m high. It was started in 713 by a monk who really wanted the rubble to improve fishing and navigating the river. In his life time, he managed to carve the head. His son carried on and managed the torso and the grandson finished the whole thing off 90 years later.
For those who are interested in such things, around 6 people can stand on his big toe nail at any one time. His eyes are 10m wide and ears 7m long.... It's big!
You can climb down the 9 flights of stairs to see it, having, of course, climbed up in the first place, or you could just view it from a boat.
Chengdu has lots of interesting temples, as one might expect from somewhere that boasts such a large Tibetan population. However, what is cool (literally) about many of the temples in Chengdu compared to the rest of China is that they all seem to have lovely gardens attached to them. This makes them more than usually pleasant places to kill an hour or two.
The WuhouCi temple is a huge rambling affair dedicated to the Emperor Liu Bei, whose head is buried here and dates from the third century. These walls loop around and the mound inside them is where he is buried. The grounds are packed with interesting sculptures and statues such as these...
As with all classic Chinese gardens, water is a big feature. This is great because not only does it look nice, it has the practical benefits of cooling everything down a bit too in the heat of the summer.
Another of the temples that I particularly enjoyed a wander round was Qingyang Gong, if just for its peace and quiet. The main pavilion is octagonal and is dedicated to some guy riding his buffalo who can be found in the green goat market when his philosophy is understood? Not sure either, but that is what I read!
To end this little tour a Chengdu's temples is Wenshu. This is more of a monastery than a temple again, with lovely shaded gardens to wander and cool off in. Just past the entrance is an 11 story pagoda
Right outside are a few streets selling all sorts of tourist tat and several places to buy grub, which just completes the morning out as the little people were starting to moan!
This will be a blog about my latest shots and what I liked or was trying to do with them
I am a teacher of Economics and have worked in various schools in Europe & Asia. One of the things I love doing is getting out and about with my camera.