Day 15, Sukhothai

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We spent today exploring Sukhothai. By bicycle is the perfect way. We rode down “Ceramics Alley” where there were several ceramic businesses, and lots of artwork along the way.

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Mermaid Buddha. We have noticed that some of the Buddhas look very feminine, but we were told Buddha was male, and some representations of him are very feminine in style.

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We strolled through a ceramic shop where these fellows were collaborating on a big sculpture.

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Sweet golden retriever! We have noticed many dogs wearing shirts and sweaters in northern Thailand. When we asked why, we were told: because it is cold here in the winter! 60 degrees Fahrenheit merits a doggy sweater.

Happy puppy movie here.

There is a fish design that is representative of Sukhothai. This woman was drawing one on a cup to be eventually painted and glazed. She handed MJ a cup to try her fish-drawing talents. Hope the cup was a second!

MJ pottery expert movie here.

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As part of the overlapping Hindu/Buddhist traditions in Thailand, some Thai Buddhists pay homage to Ganesha who is called Phra Phikanet here. Phra Phikanet is known as a remover of obstacles, but this one looks interested in beer!

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Here is the shop’s kiln.

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There were many dishes, bowls and figurines available for shoppers. Would have trouble getting these home!!

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Outside the shop, Mr. Woody gave a lesson on the street vendors. This woman was selling fresh vegetables.

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Soon a little crowd formed!

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Pretty kitty. We have not seen too many pet kitties.

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Our next cultural stop was at a thatched-roof shop. This woman was weaving materials together to make roofing thatch.

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Here are the thatches lined up for inspection and sale!

How to make a roof movie here.

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This gentleman — the supervisor? — was lounging in a hammock when we arrived. He decided he’d better get up and look busy!

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Our major site visit of the day was to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Sukhothai Historical Park. There are over 40 temple complexes spread over a wide area. It gives you a sense of the influence and sophistication of the Sukhothai Kingdom which arose in the early 13th C and came to dominate the plains of central Thailand.

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Prominent features are the city walls and accompanying moats. Ruins of wats are spread over a very large area. Within the central area, many stupas (also called chedis) and Buddha sculptures have been restored.

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Beautiful grounds and stupas.

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Amidst the stupas and Buddha statues were huge old trees, like this Banyan.

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We met these budding young engineering students, doing research on the strength of mortar and brick at different temples.

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Future engineers Kanyanut (left) and Kanyanat (right) explained their research and equipment. (They go by the nicknames of Nut and Fluke.)  Good luck to you both–perhaps your research will help save important historical treasures!

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Some of the stupas, like this one on the right, were beginning to lean.

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It is leaning a lot! It is caused by the ground settling over time.

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Here are two more engineering students hoping to solve historic preservation challenges! They too were collecting data with specialized equipment.

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Detail at base of a stupa.

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Another amazing tree.

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The grounds were truly stunning, as well as peaceful.

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Thais keep things very neat. In many places we saw women sweeping the grass around the historic site.

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Wat Mahathat is at the heart of the moated Royal city we explored. At the time of its abandonment in the 16th C, there were over 200 chedis here!

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Another ancient tree among the ruins.

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We continued on our bike ride. Here the Toms pass through the city walls.

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Our next stop was at the Wat Si Chum, which featured an immense Buddha peering through an opening. The HUGE mango tree is over 200 years old!!

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Here is what things looked like there in 1954…

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The building was in ruins . . . it needed some talented engineers to restore it!

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And they did. Here is what you see today. The Buddha was stunning, and huge!

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Monica is the best shopper. She can always find interesting, well made, unique items. Here Monica, Barb and MJ model hand-stitched jackets. Two were purchased by these good shoppers!

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Next on our bike tour was Wat Chang Lom, a bell-shaped chedi with 36 brick and stucco elephants around its base. These elephants are revered for carrying and guarding remains of the Buddha.

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Cheesehead at the chedi.

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We are always ready for a lunch stop! Mr. Woody finds great places with homemade Thai treats.

Let’s make lunch movie here.

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Beef dish ready to be served.

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Lovely flowers back on the grounds of our hotel.

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