After our exhausting 11 hrs of hitchhiking we still talked a lot and had some beers at night - starving, because the kitchen was already closed together with every other food stand in the little village.
So when the alarm rang at 6am I was super tired and NOT AT ALL motivated to get up for the sunrise at the ruins :D
But @martibis magically got up and convinced me to get the scooter and drive there.
It was still pretty dark outside and a bit cold on the scooter. Gladly @martibis had google maps on his phone so at least we knew where to go ;)
The birds were really loud probably waking up as well and feeling that the sun would come up any minute. The place was still pretty empty when we got there.
A bit about the history of Sukhothai
The Sukhothai Historical Park, located about 450km north of Bangkok and 300km south of Chiang Mai, is an archaeological park containing the ruins of dozens of temples and other buildings of the twelfth and fourteenth centuries.
What we know today is that in Thailand centuries ago there was a set of kingdoms scattered throughout the territory. Historians often consider the Kingdom of Sukhothai, founded in 1238, as the embryo of their nation and Sukhothai the first capital of the country.
Independent of the Khmer Empire, this kingdom expanded rapidly through the north of the country thanks to Pho Khun Khamhaeng, who is credited with the creation of Thai Alphabert and the establishment of Theravada Buddhism as the official religion.
The predominance of Sukhothai, however, only lasted until 1378, the year in which they were invaded and subjugated by the flourishing Kingdom of Ayutthaya, to which they were fully integrated in the middle of the 15th century.
Since then Sukhothai fell into a progressive decline that would lead to its definitive abandonment in 1584. In 1988 the park was opened to the public and three years later was inscribed as a World Heritage Site.
Sukhothai Historical Park is formed by a walled enclosure of about 4km2 and all the space that surrounds it, in total, a set of about 70km2. Inside the walls (the most popular area), there are about 15 temples and in the outer areas (North, West, South and West) there are at least 20 other temples that can be considered to be visited, although the ruins are innumerable.
To travel all these spaces, or at least part of them, it is almost essential to rent bicycles, which also seems the best way to enjoy the beautiful landscape.
You can visit only the interior area walking, but you would lose much of the attraction of the park. There are also usually tuk-tuks available if you do not have too much time and want to make the most of it. The main entrance to the interior zone (there are 5) is in the East and the Information Office in the North, outside the walls.
The day we went, a little running competition was taking place as well and most of the big roads were blocked by runners as a result. I would have loved to join in, but they already had started around 5am to avoid the heat :D
That is also the reason why we only visited the center of Sukhothai and didn't rent bikes to see all of it. I mean after we still drove to some of the temples with the scooter, but we didn't have the whole Sukhothai experience.
First we walked around a bit from one temple to the other enjoying the great light and atmosphere being the only tourists at that time. Also as it still was a bit cold and the sun came up, it was a bit foggy around the ruins, which made it look very mystical.
From there we searched the perfect spot to watch the sunrise.
The atmosphere was amazing and the light as well. When we reached the first really big Buddha (one of many) the sun was just at the perfect spot.
For me it was my first time visiting a temple in Asia. It is already really impressive to see such old architecture, columns and statues of buddhas everywhere (great for yogis like me). - But with this light and the fact that we were the only ones, except of one dog following us haha, was just awesome!
Of course we also did some Instagram pics fooling around ;)
On our way back the sun was already up and it started to get hot.
So we went to the food stands that they had put up for all the runners to get some breakfast. They still didn't arrive all yet but it was impressive how many had joined the competition and how many were cheering for them with music and everything.
We had seen enough and were ready to drive on the scooter for a bit, discovering the beautiful landscape around Sukhothai, before we had to check out and hitchhike to Chiang Mai.
First we passed a few other temples from a bit outside.
But then pretty fast we were outside the town riding on a very small road through a beautiful landscape.
It was really beautiful driving through the nature with nobody around. Spontaneous but totally worth it.
On our way back we came through a forest and then back on the highway and to our hostel to get one more hour of sleep and then start hitchhiking to Chiang Mai. I was already looking forward to our scooter adventure driving all the way from Chiang Mai to Pai with our luggage after seeing how much fun it is.