I’m back from an amazing week spent on a school residential trip at Sukhothai! For any of the few readers that I have from outside Thailand, Sukhothai may not be a super-familiar name; situated up north, around 700 years ago it was the first capital city of Thailand.
Last year, the trip I took was to Khao Yai national park and it was a camping trip. I enjoyed that trip, certainly, but it was completely exhausting. This trip really was different. Sukhothai is a real city and not a bunch of forests, so I didn’t lose contact with civilization like last time.
Anyway, here’s some of the most memorable parts of the trip:
1) Temples that tire you out
I’ve always been a history enthusiast, and anyone will tell you that the old capitals of Ayutthaya and Sukhothai are some of the most historically-important places in the whole country. The ruins of Sukhothai and its twin city, Srisachanalai (which today has been merged into the same province) are huge, and if anything shows the origins of the country of Thailand, this is it. Centuries ago these places were the center of power wielded by the earliest of Thai kings who founded the nation, creating the alphabet and imposing Buddhism as the state religion.
It has to be admitted, however, that the temples were repetitive. This didn’t really occur to me when I was biking around Sukhothai Historical Park, because I also really enjoy biking, but once I got on foot for Srisachanalai- oh boy. It felt like a tape on replay. The people of Sukhothai also seemed to really enjoy making sure that anyone who came up their temples had to be exhausted. The guide kept explaining over and over again that temples had to be built up high because they also acted as places where people could watch out for enemy troops, but seriously. There was barely a temple that didn’t involve climbing up endless stone steps.
2) Crazy caves
I also visited Tham Lom (‘Wind Cave’), which was also amazing(ly dangerous). It felt like walking through an air-conditioned room for the first few minutes, before it somehow got almost unbearably hot and humid. Inside was completely dark, which didn’t stop us of course because we had wooden ladders that looked like they might fall apart at any moment. The cave itself wasn’t so bad.
The way out was ridiculous- there was no trail, just a bunch of stones that was lined to the sides with trees with spikes. I called it Khao Yai on steroids. Overall it was nice, however.
3) Brilliant homestay
This was what I’d expected to enjoy the least in the whole trip- the homestay near Srisachanalai, which was a village that was rather remote. It turned out to be surprisingly great. The food was much better than what the hotel I stayed at later could provide, and the lady who owned the house that I stayed at cooks some of the best Thai food ever in my opinion. More on the lady- she was really nice and even carried out loudspeakers for us to use, and told us anything in the fridge we could take (and the first thing I saw in the fridge was a bottle of rum). Waking up my friends using that loudspeaker was hilarious (for me, that is).
4) Really nice Thai students
The best part of the trip might be the community & service activities done at a local Thai school. I’m not a huge fan of these sorts of activities, but the local students there are just really sweet. They’re elementary students and when they welcome you with random aerobics and a lot of smiles, you can’t help but just smile back. Walking around with students running up to you going ‘P’KEN!!’ was really great.
Playing ‘monkey in the middle’ with them was brilliant. Something I love about young students is they’re enthusiastic about everything and it was just so fun to play with them. It was not fun when I accidentally suggested a rather inappropriate Thai song just to find out that 1) the students all know the song and 2) they want to see it performed right there. I’m not sure how pleased the teachers would’ve been with that.
Helping others really does make you feel good. We donated a total of 17,000 THB, played with the kids for a day and helped them paint their school walls. It was simply amazing. Overall, it was a great trip and it would be hard to wish for a better one. Right now I’m procrastinating, but I’ll be back to writing soon.
Thanks for reading.