when we finally got there, i went to the traveler's exchange kiosk (the only place opened, it's a thai holiday monday so all the regular banks won't be in business until tuesday) to cash out my last two traveler's checks (don't worry, i still have cash left for myanmar). while waiting in line i met an american named craig (from DC, here to teach english in southern thailand) and we spent the rest of the day hanging out since it's not everyday you meet an american traveler (mostly you meet europeans or australians or japanese). we rented bikes for 20 baht each, and got the super all-inclusive sukhothai tickets (150 baht each), good for repeat visits up to 30 days and valid for all the zones (i'm tempted to sell mine before i leave). although bicycles have been available for rent throughout my southeast asia travels, this was my first time riding one, and it was pretty fun, i should've been biking long ago. you can travel faster and longer distances on a bike and there's a nice breeze when you go fast that you don't get from speed walking. and local kids love it when you pop a wheelie (that was an embellishment).
we'd visit wats at a leisurely place on our bikes (didn't even have to lock them, sukhothai is that safe!), and when we felt thirsty, we'd pull over and buy refreshing cold drinks from vendors dotting the historical park for less than 25 cents (i'd gladly pay 100x more than that to drink something cold on this 105 degrees day). sukhothai is interesting, but after you've seen angkor wat, nothing else compares. one of the cool things about sukhothai is it seems not a lot of people visit. sukhothai is also relatively compact, and easy to get to by bike (in fact, i'd say it's the recommended method of seeing sukhothai), and if you start early in the morning, it's easy to visit all the wats by day's end. my favorite wat has got to be wat si sawai, a former khmer wat, which includes 3 prangs reminscent of angkor wat.
craig and i grabbed some late lunch at some roadside restaurant around 4pm, and started heading back to the bike rental shop by 5pm so we could catch the last bus going back into town, 6pm. that bus never did come (or maybe we were just impatient), and we ended up sharing a tuk tuk with an english guy and a japanese girl, 30 baht each. there was a light drizzle and since i was sitting in front of the tuk tuk i got a little wet, but the heavy rain never did fall. once we were back in new sukhothai, i loaded up on drinks and snacks and went back to my guesthouse to indulge.
(note: the computers here at the only internet cafe in town all run lunix, which is incompatible with my portable photo storage device so it wouldn't even mount it on the desktop. photos will have to wait. i didn't take too much anyway, i'll take more tomorrow, when i retour old sukhothai solo style).
symmetrical mango tree
wat si sawai
wat phra phai luang
wat si chum
buddha's hand (wat si chum)
fighting cock camp