Have an account?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Relishing the Olden Vibe of the Ancient City of Sukhothai


Seven hours after leaving the city of Bangkok at the stroke of midnight, I found myself in the main highway of Old Sukhothai – under the drizzling sky. Throbbing head and all brought on by the intermittent sleep I located my hostel, which to my surprise is housed inside a boutique resort property. Our Dorm of Happiness – as we call it, is located on the second floor. Come follow me” the receptionist told me. My bunk bed is inside one of the rooms at the old cream colored wooden house fronted by a picturesque courtyard.


I quickly crashed on my bed feeling the soft and comfy satin sheets and entertained the idea of having a long nap to make up for lost sleep. However, the lure of the olden city of Sukhothai summoned. Instead of surrendering into dream land, I hurriedly went down and rented a bicycle.

Sukhothai Historical Park

The ancient city of Sukhothai was the first capital of the Siam Kingdom founded by King Ramkhamhaeng during the 13th century. Much smaller than Ayutthaya – one of the succeeding Siam capital established in the 14th century, it has a more concentrated set of temples and monuments ruins now all located inside the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sukhothai Historical Park.


The old city walls covers approximately 70 square kilometers and is where an impressive list of ancient structure ruins numbering to 193 can be found. Easily toured by foot or by riding a bicycle, I’d spent a total of five days just cycling and walking around this historic park teeming with beautiful reminders of the bygone years of the Siam Kingdom.


Dawn of Happiness

The Siam Kingdom that thrived during the foundation of Sukhothai coincided with what many historians call as the Golden Age of Thai Civilization, thus adding to the historical significance of this ancient city.


Sukhothai literally translates to Dawn of Happiness, and it couldn’t have been more fitting describing a place conveying a laid-back vibe and bounded by abundance set of nature besieged with trees, rolling hills and meandering lakes and ponds. I find the setting mirroring many charming countryside I’ve been to before – only swarming with remarkable ancient relics.


The historical park can be adequately explored in a day or two, but since I decided to extend my stay to five days, I was able to fully enjoy every bit of my exploration. 


I spent my first sunset just seated at the steps of the imposing ruins of Wat Mahathat – one of the most impressive temples in Sukhothai. I caught the glimmer caused by the golden hour kissing every piece of its towering columns as it lead my eyes to its lotus bud-shaped main stupa. I remembered feeling a tinge of spiritual awareness and peace of mind the moment the fiery red sky slowly turned to darkness. As my first night in Sukhothai comes to fold, I delight at the thought of waking up to a few more dawns on this place, in the coming days.


A Reflective Journey

There is always about traveling to ancient cities that forces me to a reflective state. Sukhothai provided me with this same effect, the moment I stepped over its storied grounds. A culminating moment of reflection transpired on my last day at Sukhothai. After spending the morning at Wat si Chum – a 14th century pillared outdoor hall called Mandapa, where a seated 15 meter statue of a Buddha is enclosed inside a hall ruin, I made another round to visit the other temple and palaces ruins.


One by one; Wat Saphan Hin, Wat Pa Mamuang, Wat Chana Songkhram, Wat Asokaram, Wat Phra Phai Luang and a seemingly endless other Wats, I stared at each with complete awe and gratitude. Overjoyed at having the opportunity of laying eyes on structures that has witnessed the birth of the Siam culture and the flourishing of the Buddhist faith. 


Whether I was getting lost in wonderment appreciating all these surviving vestiges of the glorious Siam Kingdom era or blissfully immersed in quiet contemplation staring at the silver lake near Wat Traphang Ngoen monastery, throughout my five days, I always found a spot where I enjoyed silent moments polishing my Zen state of mind.


“Old Age is no cause for regret, regret that one is old, having lived in vain” reads one of the signs I saw at one of the temples in Sukhothai. I recited these words as I went on a few more cycle laps around the historical park. In the midst of feeling the wind and smelling the trees and viewing the sky’s reflection on one of the many glass like ponds, I finally concluded my meditative journey.


For I felt secured knowing I am living my life not in vain, but rather – in a way I won’t regret anything the moment I reach my twilight years. Because there is a beautiful way of reaching one’s old age. One just need to safeguard all things important and scrap all we can live without. Much like how these spectacular ruins of Sukhothai managed to remain standing – and be bearers of historical knowledge and spiritual enlightenment after many centuries.


***********


This trip is part of my Traveloka solo-backpacking series all over the Philippines and Southeast Asia. Traveloka is a mobile app and web site that makes travel simpler by letting you experience the easiest and fastest way of booking cheap flights and hotels in less than a minute. 

0 comments:

Post a Comment