So! Continuing. After we left Chiang Mai we drove down to Lampang, which is a few hours south of there. There is not, strictly speaking, very much to do in Lampang. It is a town on a slow river that is known for its horse-carts, and you can take a horse-cart ride around the town, like so:
There are some pretty old houses and the wats are pleasant enough. We ate at a delicious restaurant which was called something like Aroy Aroy One Baht which was delicious but actually cost more than that. The most interesting thing is probably the Lampang Herb Conservation Assembly (this place seems to have several names, but that’s what’s on the sign) which is outside of town:
I don’t know exactly what the deal is with this place – it seems like they grow a lot of herbs here which are sold in various forms. But they also have herbal steam baths and scrubs, which is why we went. I had a herbal steam bath, which seemed not unlike the way that Nero would have someone killed. Kim and Harriet had some kind of yogurt and turmeric scrub, which they were happy with. After that we left Lampang.
From Lampang, we were going south to Sukhothai, which was the biggest power center in what is not Thailand before the Ayutthaya era. On the way we stopped at Si Satchanalai, which is a Sukhothai-era site north of the main city. It is extremely well-kept; it does not seem to be particularly popular with tourists despite having UNESCO status.
Sukhothai-style ruins are characterized by the lotus-shaped tips of the chedi.
There’s been a fair amount of reconstruction and rebuilding in this site (as in the main Sukhothai site), and it can be hard to tell how much of what you’re looking at is original.
It’s a pleasant site, though it feels a little sterile compared to similarly aged ruins in southeast Asia.
From Si Satchanalai we kept going south to Sukhothai, which is both a modern town and a very large ruined city. It gets a lot of Thai tourists, slightly fewer foreign tourists. Our hotel turned out to be infested with rabbits:
The modern town of Sukhothai isn’t particularly excited (though it is the source of delicious Sukhothai noodles). The ruins are pretty nice though. The site is large enough that the best way to get around is via bicycle – ones with a back seat were conveniently available:
The site is very well manicured – Sukhothai plays an important role in Thailand’s image of its history – and it’s full of canals, ponds, and islands:
Like at Si Satchanalai, there’s been a great deal of reconstruction; however, the buildings here were grander to start with:
Khmer influence is pretty apparent on some of the buildings – this one was clearly Hindu:
Harriet works on something:
A few miles north of the main site is an iconic Buddha that seems to be used by almost every Thai wedding photographer:
And that’s what’s at Sukhothai! Oh, there’s also this pottery place, where Harriet painted a little cup:
Also it turned out that our hotel was infested with frogs and toads in addition to rabbits:
(If someone could figure out what kind of frogs and/or toads these are, that would be great, thanks.) Maybe the best thing about Sukhothai, however, is its airports. One does not often come across a lot of praise for Thailand’s airports, generally for good reason. The one at Sukhothai is pretty great though: in addition to large numbers of free snacks, it also has a zoo with a herd of zebras and giraffes. I did not, alas, get any pictures of this, but it is almost certainly the best airport zoo you ever saw.
And that is what I can remember of our trip to northern Thailand whenever it was that we went there. We had a pretty good time. I will try to be better about documenting things in the future.