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.
When we lived in Taiwan, on one of the telly Travel channels there used to be an advert they would run again and again and again. It told the story of travelers who turned up in a village in the arse-end of nowhere, realised they were lost and were desperate to get back on the road again. Only, of course, there was no transport for a day or two. They then slowly realised that being lost, or at least not where you wanted to be is what travel is about. I think the tag line was something like 'you can't find yourself until you're lost'. What a load of hippy-dippy baloney, is my usual view of that. I have to say I like things planned. That doesn't mean no flexibility but I enjoy planning a trip and like to know what is going to happen next.
Planning it is half the fun.
Although, if that were actually true, then I should plan two trips, have the same amount of enjoyment and save a fortune. But you know what I mean.
However, on occasion, I can be proven wrong about this and we stumble upon (or get pushed into) a hidden gem.
We were off out for the day from our Air BnB week to, I think, Galle for the day. About 10 minutes into the journey our driver turns off the main road and up a hill, round a corner, up a bit, down a bit and round a few more corners.
When he eventually stops he proudly tells that this is the temple of his own village.
This is an amazing temple, well actually a series of temples. I think it's really a monastery rather than a single temple. The one below is only open to males and is truly spectacular. The pictures don't really do justice to the amazing murals on the walls all the way around it.
Although some of the smaller stupas have a touch of the seen better days/jerry built about them, this is one of the more iconic sights/sites of Ayutthaya, with the three stupas all in a row and all still standing.
Built in the 15th century it was the temple complex for the adjacent Royal palace. It once was home to a 16m high seated Buddha. This statue was covered in 143kg of gold but, surprise surprise, it was nicked and melted down by the invading Burmese.
This was getting to be hot work so time for an iced coffee and a cheeky piece of cake!
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!
The second part of mini-break around the Shanxi was to travel the hour or so to Tiayuan to the Jinci temple complex. The complex dates from around the 6th Century, although it has been modified and adapted many times since then.
It is most famous for the Hall of the Holy Mother which, itself is over 1000 years old. This temple features amazing carved pillars. Each of the pillars to the front of the temple is encased by a carved serpent.
After the excitement of the temples we then started heading back towards Jakarta but broke the journey up in Cirebon.
A lot of our travel in Indonesia was by train. They may not be the plushest but they were comfortable, the views were excellent and they are as cheap as chips. Someone came around with a menu at the start of the journey and then around lunchtime your selected meal turns up... and very nice it was too. I'd highly recommend trains over Indonesia's chaotic road transportation system.
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.