Date: Dec 2016
Route: Drove from Chiang Mai.
After a few days spent exploring the historical city of Chiang Mai was, we decided to explore the area and on the list was Sukhothai. Mr. Jimmy, our driver, picked us up bright and early for our ~4.5hr drive. We had done enough research to know that Sukhothai is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has almost 200 ruins spread out over 70 square km. It is like a much less grand version of the Angkor complex in Cambodia.
We arrived early in the afternoon and after dropping our stuff off at the hotel, we set off to explore the complex. We decided to start the temple of Wat Mahathat which is at the center of the old, walled town. The temple name translates to “temple of the Great Relic” and was the largest and most important temple of the Sukhothai empire in the 13th century. This temple is surrounded by a moat and much of the ancient brick walls are still standing today. The main attraction are the Buddha statues that are all around the temple grounds. These range from the massive central statue to the many smaller ones carved into the walls of what was once a very grand and large temple. There were few tourists about and we spend all afternoon exploring the ruins and watched a beautiful sunset over the lotus pond just next to the temple. After dark, the ruins are beautifully lit by colored lights and we spent another hour admiring the various statues. We had a late dinner followed by an excellent Thai massage to soothe our aching feet.
We started out the next morning to go explore the other temples in the complex. Many people spend a week here and use a bicycle to cover the long distances between sites. We decided to walk and explored the area around Wat Mahathat as there were many temples just around. They reminded us of a smaller version of Bagan in Myanmar or one of the many smaller Angkor temples. There were almost no tourists in the smaller temples and we found peaceful moments of solitude to meditate upon these timeless Buddha statues. Once cannot help but feel peace and general disregard for the material life when lost among these ancient places. The temples of interest are Wat Sorasak, Wat Sra Sri, and Wat Si Chum. Sukhothai is definitely a worthwhile visit if you are in Chiang Mai. Another place that we researched but did not go to is Ayutthaya which is a sister complex to Sukhothai. Next time…
We drove first to the stunning village of Henningsvær whose claim to fame was a football pitch that is literally in the middle of the ocean. The drive itself is stunning and we stopped several times along the way to take pictures. We arrived into the small center of the village that has quaint shops and small restaurants. After having a nice cup of coffee and a scone in a cozy coffee shop, we set off to explore the town. There is a beautiful harbor with colorful boats that is seen from a bridge that connects to the other island that makes up the town. The sun was shining brightly, and we got several amazing phots. We then climbed to the top of a small hill and arrived at one of the most photographed places in the islands which is the Henningsvaer Stadium. The view from the back side is postcard Norway and on the front is the infinite sea dotted with small, rocky islands. It’s a place that truly takes your breath away and you can experience it on our Norway video as well. We came back here one more time before we left the Lofoten Islands.