Well I worked it out. Those guys in chopper bar ( what a name) are the local bikers. Yesterday they turned up on their Harleys and cut off sukhothai city black shirts. They seem to be always the honoured guests with the young boy and girl, the kids of the owner, I guess jumping to attention. The boy’s job is portable barman. He has a trolley full of whiskers and mixers and ice and he regularly pours out new ones for these guys….no measuring….I saw one of them using his brick like Motorola.what is it with these? Over the road, from the veranda I see a group of cops stopping, searching then taking away in the back of a pickup a couple of I don’t know what’s.
Sunday morning a I have a lie in til 9, a quick breakfast, and rent a motorbike, for the measly sum of 150 baht. It’s manual, it tattles, the speedo doesn’t work and the mirrors are floppy, so I can’t see a thing behind me. Fortunately the roads, even the main ones are not too scary. There is a motorbike/ bike lane which doesn’t necessarily get used by traffic just going with he flow. It’s quite common to encounter a bike of motorbike or tricycle coming towards you. There isn’t so much traffic, the road is mainly straight, but a bit pot holed. There are so many stray dogs lolloping around. They look like foxes, and my weedy horn is unlikely to rouse them. In fact on my return journey I very nearly did hit a dog, but this one had an owner. It crossed the road at its own pace. Even when seeing me neither sped up nor stopped. A big black thing a bit like a Labrador. I came so close to hitting it..full on braking…
Transportation in hail and deserves a mention. Motorbikes, ie 100 cc Hondas are the main form of travelling herein the north. I saw a sign indicating that helmets are essential, however, I saw maybe 3 people wearing them, some carrying them…and bikes carrying up to 4 people. I passed a husband carrying his wife pillion, she was cradling her new born baby between them. I don’t know what the age is, but there are certainly 12 year old kids riding these bikes in heir flip flops and Chelsea football kit.
Them there is the Toyota pickup, the fancier ones with cab with 2 rows of seats. The pick up section is used for carrying animals, machinery, vegetables, and people. Sometimes a group of kids, sometimes a whole gang of workers from the fields.
The public transport are saewthawn, which in some places are pickups with the back area covered, but open at the sides, with 2 wooden benches face to face, and a step at the back. Luggage goes on the top, can be flagged down, goes designated routes, used by school kids, workers, traders. In sukhothai these are more like trucks with the same wooden benches, and a wooden floor. They drive incredibly slowly. The tuk tuks here are back to front, more like a ricks haw. Motorbike section at the back, front section is a 2 wheeled affair open at the front and containing 2 benches face to face. The hole thing covered by a flat roof.
There are motorbikes with side cars. The sidecar being more like a box on wheels, suitable for anything and anyone.
Some of the vehicles in the countryside are weird looking too. Something which reminds me of a horse and cart, except it is based on a motorcycle. It’s a tricycle with very long handlebars, which reach back to the driver who has a seat on the cart area.
Today’s trip to si satchanalai was cool. I missed the park entrance to. Begin with and explored the area, finding several ruined temples near the road and one with a massive chedi on top of a forested hill. Here I glimpsed a local family rooting for some kind of bugs, the father was banging trees with a stick, taking a drag on his cigarette and breathing the smoke into bore holes in the tree. I don’t thing they were succeeding…and anyway I don’t know what they were looking for exactly.
I rode out of the archaeological park, and found myself on a road flanked with paddies reflecting distant mountains. A woman was. Harvesting some rice, her daughters bagging it by the road. The paddies were swarming with birds, many of them large grey and white wading birds with long legs and beaks. A bit like storks.
When I get back to the park, I’m parking my bike and flagged down by woman from the restaurant shack place. She gets my order wrong and I have to send back the rice with pork.
I decide to ride round the park rather than cycle. It turns out to be a good idea as there is quite a lot of distance to cover. There is hardly anyone here, and each ruin I have more or less to myself. It rains a little, there is a swarm of dragon flies gathered over the road at wat Chang lom…the one with elephant chedi. On approaching I thought these were falling leaves, so big and so profuse were they. Wat chedi ched thaeo blows me away…the complex is vast and has enough ruins to last anyone a lifetime.
The final stop is outside the wall of the park. It has a Khmer tower and some bayon style carvings. Not much atmosphere though as there is construction going on around it.
The journey back is punctuated by a stop to gawp at this place ( see below ). Buddha Buddha everywhere. It’s funny that I have seen so many ruins, yet I passed a number of places where temples are still being built.
Dinner is in a chilled out bar that does me a tofu Penang curry and a mango shake..awful lounges cover cd of Beatles songs and carpenters etc. etc….but more relaxing than choppers!
By the way I think I have had enough of ruins now…perhaps you have too? To finish, here is a missing Buddha!