After a day exploring the central zone of Sukhothai Historical Park we returned to the park the following day with bikes and a plan to explore the Northern and Western Zones.
We accidentally discovered a new bike route which goes from the new city bus station to the Historical park. The route is 15 km long following parts of the Mae Ramphan River through villages and farmland.
We started at the Historical park and rode towards town. The path is newly paved and although there were a few cars, trucks, scooters and chickens to avoid it was a lovely ride through the country and a fascinating view of regular life in Northern Thailand.
There are a couple of Wats along the path which are well sign posted. About 9 km from the Historical park we stopped at a Wat to take pictures.
We were greeted very enthusiastically by a Monk who was sweeping the yard. In our experience Monks are generally pretty quiet this one was not. His English was slightly better than our Thai so it was a somewhat odd conversation but he took us over to the Wat and opened it up for us. He then taught us how to prey correctly -three bows toward the alter and he blessed us with holy water. Afterwards he pulled out a smart phone and took a picture or us so we took a picture of him too. We exchanged names but I could not tell you what his was. We call him the chatty Monk! It was a lovely experience.
As we rode back along the path everyone waved and said hello. It was Sunday and there were a couple of religious services going on. People in plastic chairs (which are everywhere in Thailand) listening to a speaker using a load speaker which you could hear a long way off. We could not understand what they were saying.
After our ride we toured the western site. It was very hot. We found the tourist information center on the road which had a much needed stall with water and bathrooms.
We continued on to the Northern site where we visited the Buddha image in the hill.
It was still very hot and we were getting to the point where the Wats were all starting to look the same. We rode 5o km in total and visited over 20 Wats.
After dinner we returned to the Historical park to see the countdown to 2020 event. There were lights and lanterns everywhere, stalls selling crafts and food and candles in clay pots which you could light and leave by a statue. We should have eaten dinner there!
The entertainment was quite eclectic. Some of it was in English and included a guy signing ballads with an orchestral accompaniment along with cultural dancing and music.
They gave away prizes which were presented by the state governor and the MC spoke a mixture of English and Thai. The audience was about 70% Thai and 30% tourists. It was quite a show but between the cycling and the jet lag we did not make it to the end.