Saturday, November 30, 2013

32. Phitsanulok - Sukhothai (UNESCO World Heritage Site - Phitsanulok

135 km

After yesterday's long-distance ride I went only on a short round-trip to visit the 700 year old remnants of Thailand's former capital, Sukhothai. The city remained the capital until it was succeeded by Ayutthaya in the 15th century. There are numerous large brick ruins, both of Buddhist temples (Wats) and the actual palaces still to be found. The campus is surrounded by a fence, there is a small fee of course, yet more sites, ancient walls, and water-filled moats can be found surrounding the actual historic park. To visit those, nothing serves better than a two-wheeled vehicle, a bicycle is romantic, but using the motorbike is great. (One is allowed to enter the park by motorcycle, not by car.)

One should not expect Angkhor Wat, Cambodia, when visiting the Sukhothai Historical park, however a visit is very worthwhile when in north-central Thailand, also because of the site and is history's importance for today's society.

A somewhat weird and spooky experience is the visit to the Wat of the "Diamond Eyes", Luang Pho Petch, not even four kilometers further from the historical park. It is a small, very tight entrance which leads to a chamber secured by a heavy steel door and lock. The monk needs to come and unlock the gate to reveal the sight to the Buddha image with the "diamond eyes". These have been replaced a long time ago by synthetic stones, the entire Buddha is said to have survived three theft attempts. The visit is for people who do not suffer from claustrophobia since you need to squeeze through a very narrow door, actually more like a gap in the brick work, on your way in and out.

I only found this place because it was in my NOSTRA GPS data base. On the internet people are complaining that the monks try to impose a hefty visitor fee on you for showing the inside of the sanctuary; the monk who showed me the Buddha camber did not ask for money.

The ride to and fro is uneventful, divided ("boring") four-lane roads, no overturned busses or trucks since the road is straight as a die. Yes, the mountains are behind me.

Wat Luang Pho Petch, Sukhothai

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