Arrived Sukothai Friday 3rd November in the middle of the Loi Krathon festival. Although celebrated nationwide it originates from here and it is by far the biggest in terms of crowds and bustle and events connected to it.
Sukothai consists of the old town which is a UNESCO world heritage site and the new town, 14kms away which is a 1960's concrete provincial town. It only takes 20 minutes or so by songthaow to shuttle between the two (although it only leaves when it has as many people as can possibly be crammed on so it took me an hour yesterday!).
We have had to take it a bit easy over the last few days. Perhaps it was a touch of sunstroke or the heat or a little something of what we ate but we have both been feeling a little under the weather for the past two days - Cheryl especially (VIOLENTLY ILL for 5 hours - Cheryl would like that to be noted) but is feeling much much better today.
Yesterday I went off exploring the old town solo on a bike and I found three snakes - two dead and one alive. Started off with the museum which was excellent and erudite and illuminating. Of particular note was the "mystical stairway" which replicates a hidden passage within the walls of one of the outlaying temples outside the town defences to the north. Within the twists and turns of the passageway are drawings and text that show influences from all over asia. I rode all the way over to the wretched temple, full of expectation that I would get to see this for myself only to find that it was padlocked up!!
Amongst the ruins are hundreds of stall holders selling everything from mobile phones to sausages to hand woven scarves to orchids (3 for 100 Baht) - there is even a minivan with an ATM and a little counter offering currency exchange. It all sounds a little gaudy and touristy and yes, there is no denying that there are a lot of farrang here but the majority is overwhelmingly Thai because it is such a well loved festival that people travel for miles with the krathon their village has made to float on the lake and to drink and light candles and go to the national beauty contests and the thai boxing...
At night time the whole place becomes another surreal world. We went last night as a bit of a taster for tonight which is the grand finale so I don't want to write too much now until we have 'done' it properly but it is just the most charming and beautiful thing I have seen.
That's all for now - will write again soon. We plan to head on back to Chang Mai tomorrow so we can do a two day (overnight) meditation course at Wat Suan Dok on Tuesday so may not be for a few days yet!
Love to all - happy fireworks night!!
D & Cxx