Friday, October 12, 2007

Around Thailand

With the end of first semester and three weeks of vacation ahead of me I decided to take a trip south to the middle part of Thailand. My mom is here for a visit so she came with and we took off for our first destination, Sukhothai. Sukhothai is filled with ancient ruins from the 12th and 13th centuries. Upon arrival we were able to locate a guesthouse and relax for the evening. In the morning we took a bus to the old city (where the ruins are located), which dropped us off at a bicycle rental place. We rented bicycles for twenty baht (about 70 cents) and took off exploring. The park was pretty huge and some of the ruins were amazingly beautiful. It was just relaxing riding around the park, admiring the scenery. We took at tuk tuk back to our guest house and planned how we would spend our next few days.

Our second stop was Ayuthaya, a city farther south, which contains several more ruins. We were able to rent bikes directly from our guesthouse and we spent another full day riding around and observing the sites. Ayuthaya is a much larger city than Sukhothai and consequently much more touristy but despite that, the trip was enjoyable. There were several more markets around some of the old temples and there were even elephant rides available for those who wished to make a tour via elephant.

Our final stop was in Kanchanaburi, which is home to the bridge made famous by the movie “Bridge over the River Kwai.” There is an amazing museum explaining exactly what went on during the Japanese occupation of Thailand and the brutal conditions suffered by the POWs who built the bridge. The museum, as well as the bridge were highlights of the trip for me.

We are back in Chiang Mai now and are having a few days of down time before heading north to Pai for some rafting and elephant riding :-)

The Lone Traveler

A couple weeks ago I met a guy from California who was traveling through Chiang Mai on a tour of Thailand. He had just come from India where he had spent the last eleven months! We met at the Sunday night market and ended up chatting for about two hours. I found him really interesting and we ended up hanging out the whole next week. The more I talked to him, the more inspired I felt to go off and travel on my own. All the stories I had heard of lone travelers before I came to Thailand never sounded very appealing to me, even though the people who were telling them sounded so strong and independent. I could never image traveling off someplace completely unknown by myself. The longer I talked to him, the more convinced I became that I could actually do a trip like that. The thought of traveling alone no longer sounded so, well, lonely. I’m sure it has it’s moments and it isn’t as easy as it sounds, but the more I think about it, the more I think I would like to give it a shot when I finish up here in March. I’ll have about a month’s time with nothing planned and no particular place that I’ll need to be. Why not go?