Cycling around Sukhothai’s ruins

On my second day in Sukhothai i hired a bicycle to get around some of the ruins outside the city walls – Wat Chang Lom and Wat Si Chum in particular. At the site of Wat Chang Lom is a large bell shaped stupa supported by 36 elephants sculpted into its base. Wat Si Chum on the other hand, houses a huge sitting Buddha whose lap spans a massive 11.3 metres in width! The Buddha is called ‘Phra Achana’ : ‘one who is not frightened.’ Mind you, i don’t think i would be if i was that big either!

Beautiful as it was cycling around the park, admiring the scenery, feeling the hot sun beating down on my shoulders and the cool breeze on my face, i was all cycled out by around 4pm (it’s hard work when you’ve got no gears!). So i returned the bike and stopped at ‘The Coffee Cup’ for some refreshment and relaxation.

My intention was to stay at the park until dusk so i could get some good photos of the ruins at sunset. It’s definitely one of the best times of the day to visit the park : the bulk of the tourists have dispersed, and as the sun was getting lower in the sky it really brought out the beauty of the ruins and emphasized the shapes of the stonework. Unfortunately my camera battery died just as the sun was beginning to set, and guess who left their spare battery at the guesthouse? Disappointed is not the word!

Closing thoughts on Sukhothai

There are more complete Buddha sculptures remaining at Sukhothai and a lot of the original pillars still exist. However Ayuthaya is home to a larger number of chedis and prangs, which i think makes Ayuthaya’s ruins more atmospheric than Sukhothai’s. However, Sukhothai historical park has a serene and peaceful atmosphere : the ruins are surrounded by ponds with lillies floating on the surface. Arrive at the right time of day and the ruins are reflected beautifully in the water. The ruins outside the walls are dotted round a landscape that includes lush green hills, empty roads, clusters of banana trees and rice fields. Sukhothai is a reclining Buddha, basking in the afternoon sun.

Photo is of one of the few shots of the ruins at sunset that i managed to get before my battery died!


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