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Thailand: Sukhothai

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Sukhothai | Thailand | Asia

[Visited: October 2005]

Sukhothai actually consists of two parts, the new city and the old city, some 14 kilometres to the west. After arriving in the new city in the afternoon, I didn't hesitate but headed directly to the old city, even though I knew it would be insufficient to see it all. Half an hour in a songthaew took me directly to the entrance of Sukhothai historic park. While the sun was going down, I had a great view of Wat Mahathat, one of the best preserved complexes of the park. The main temple has a lotus shape and there are several Buddhas in Ceylonese style. There are still many beautiful carvings in a remarkable good condition, and apart from admiring the wat (or temple) itself, it is a fine place to just spend some time.

Picture of Sukhothai (Thailand): Wat Mahathat in Sukhothai: reflections of the temple in a pond

Actually, when I came back very early the next morning, I directly went to this same place. It was great to sit and watch the sun rise over Wat Mahathat and Sukhothai, seeing yellow, pink and orange appear on the large Buddhas and the temples, seeing the birth of shadows on the temple floors, with a strong sound of birds singing around me. I took my bicycle again, and cycled to Wat Sri Sawai, a Hindu shrine turned Buddhist temple, another remarkable wat in this huge complex. Then, I decided to cycle right to another, very peculiar place of Sukhothai outside the old city walls. Wat Si Cham houses an enormous Buddha that can be seen even before you enter the site.

Picture of Sukhothai (Thailand): Wat Si Cham: gigantic Buddha in its mondop at Sukhothai

The closer I came, the higher the Buddha appeared, and when I reached its base, it dwarfed me completely, only its hand with slender fingers being just smaller than me. Behind the statue, there are steps leading up to the head. This Buddha is also called the talking Buddha, and according to legend, a Thai king once assembled his troops in front of this Buddha and made it talk to inspire his soldiers. Probably, someone from behind the head did the mysterious talking. From here, it the Wat Phrai Phai Luang was close, a complex that actually predates the Sukhothai period and has Khmer elements. It is in a worse shape than most other temples but still worth the trip. Leaving the small island of this wat took me back to the main road and back to old Sukhothai.

Picture of Sukhothai (Thailand): Buddhas at Wat Mahathat just after sunrise
Picture of Sukhothai (Thailand): Wat Mahathat near sunset: Buddha silhouet at Sukhothai
Picture of Sukhothai (Thailand): Wat Mai: play of light and shadow at Sukhothai
Picture of Sukhothai (Thailand): Wat Mahathat in Sukhothai seen from a corner
Picture of Sukhothai (Thailand): Base of Wat Mahathat in Sukhothai
Picture of Sukhothai (Thailand): Buddha and main stupa seen from below at Wat Mahathat at Sukhothai
Picture of Sukhothai (Thailand): Wat Phra Phai Luang, Sukhothai: pillars and shadows
Picture of Sukhothai (Thailand): Wat Mahathat: Buddha seen from behind
Picture of Sukhothai (Thailand): Wat Si Sawai: the three main prang
Picture of Sukhothai (Thailand): Wat Si Chum: detail of hand of giant Buddha
Picture of Sukhothai (Thailand): Wat Phra Phai Luang: old ruins of this ancient Sukhothai temple seen from a distance
Picture of Sukhothai (Thailand): Hand of giant Buddha at Wat Si Chum
Picture of Sukhothai (Thailand): Giant Buddha at Wat Si Chum seen from below

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