Monday, December 24, 2007

Phi'Lok and Sukhothai Old City

The first thing we noticed when our train pulled in was the conspicuous lack of 'farang' (that's us--foreigners--tourists). Phitsonulok (or Phi'Lok as the locals say) is by far the least touristy place on our entire trip and our lack of Thai language skills mixed with the lack of English spoken in the city and on signs, mixed with our guide book's skimpy entry made navigation a true test. But despite some minor hiccups, we were able to orient ourselves, feed ourselves, and successfully use public transportation.

Now, why Phi'Lok? In and of itself, no good reason. It has a smallish wat complex and a few cool sites like the night bizarre, but is probably better known as a base for exploring Sukhothai Historical Park, about an hour away. Our second day, we set off for the park, which is in fact one of the early capitols of Thailand and contains lots of ruins of cultural and religious sites. The massive complex necessitated the rental of old-style cruiser bikes (and necessitated Dennis singing Smiths tunes in a rather loud voice.) We had a great time exploring the sites all day and had a nice surprise waiting for us back in Phi'Lok--clean laundry. In another run of what could be called good luck, the laundry guy left our bag of clean laundry on the street and asked an old man selling bananas to look after it in case we came by. A note to travelers--if they tell you to pick up your laundry at 5 pm, don't expect to wander in at 6:30 and just pick it up, but do expect to meet new and exciting friends/fruit vendors!

Now we're off to Chiang Mai, the big city and 'cultural capital' of Northern Thailand to spend Christmas, we can only imagine, like our Jewish friends in the US--eating Chinese food and watching movies! Best wishes and happy holidays to all our friends and family back home.

--K & D

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