A Day Trip to Si Satchanalai

When I was planning my trip to Sukhothai, I knew I wanted to stay there for a few days. While I knew Sukhothai Historical Park was the main attraction for visitors coming to Sukhothai Province, I decided to look into other things to do in the area to keep me busy for the entirety of my stay. When I travel, I like to spend at least a few days in a given area. I tire easily (a reality of being a highly sensitive person) and I also like to take time to really get to know and appreciate an area. I’d always rather see less overall on a trip and take in as much as I can in one place than constantly be moving from place to place. During my trip to Sukhothai, I was satisfied to just explore the town of New Sukhothai on one day and had Sukhothai Historical Park planned for another day. Given that I had three full days in Sukhothai, I wanted to find another adventure to go on elsewhere in the province for the third day.

Enter Si Satchanalai. Si Satchanalai (more commonly know as Si Satch by the locals) is a district in Sukhothai Province about an hour north of New Sukhothai, the capital city of the province. It is home to Si Satchanalai Historical Park, a veritable treasure trove of gorgeous temple ruins in a wooded and rustic setting.

Si Satch was the sister city of Old Sukhothai and the administrative center of the Sukhothai Kingdom.

Lovers of history and architecture and those travelers intrigued by sites off the main tourist path will love Si Satch. It’s a bit out of the way and requires more planning, more walking/biking, and definitely more water (a mistake I ran into that I will get to later), but, as someone who is both a history nerd and appreciates places outside the main tourist path, I absolutely adored Si Satch–and came away with a few lessons about solo travel along the way. I wouldn’t recommend going to Si Satch in place of Sukhothai Historical Park–you’d be missing out on a lot of really great sites and culture by doing that–but if you have an extra day in Sukhothai Province and aren’t put off by spending two days in a row visiting ancient cities, I definitely recommend the trip to Si Satch; it is an absolute gem of a place. Overall, I found my experience Continue reading “A Day Trip to Si Satchanalai”

Visit Nakhon Pathom!

Nakhon Pathom is the small province I lived in for five months when I taught English in Thailand. Bordering Bangkok to the west, it’s an area brimming with history and culture, though not one that is visited often by travelers coming from outside of Thailand.

While most tourists and expats alike venture through Nakon Pathom from Bangkok on their way to neighboring Kanchanaburi–a well-known tourist destination because of its magnificent national parks and the history it holds as the location of the famous Death Railway Bridge–they don’t realize the rich culture and history they are passing by in Nakhon Pathom.

Nakhon Pathom certainly doesn’t have the same allure as other destinations close to Bangkok–such as Ayutthaya, home to the ruins of the second capital of Siam; Kanchanaburi; and Koh Samet, the closest island to Thailand’s captial city at three hours away. That said, its rich Buddhist history makes it a prime stop for those especially interested in history and/or Buddhism. Those travelers who enjoy destinations off the main tourist path will also appreciate Nakhon Pathom for the rich culture present in this area without being downtrodden by the high prices and destructive nature tourism oftentimes brings to local environments.

When not stuck in Bangkok traffic, it takes about an hour to get from the heart of Bangkok to Nakhon Pathom city. A visit to Nakhon Pathom could make an easy day trip, but for those interested in traveling more extensively around the Continue reading “Visit Nakhon Pathom!”

Sukhothai Historical Park

The night before I was planning to go to Sukhothai Historical Park–the first historic capital of Siam–I met a fellow traveler at my guest house who was also planning on going to the park the following day. We decided to go together, which ended up being a wonderful adventure–it’s always fun to meet new people while traveling and though I don’t expect to ever see her again, my new guest house friend and I had a lovely time exploring the ancient ruins together.

Rested and ready for more adventures after my first, quieter day in Sukhothai, I got up early to get some breakfast prior to heading to the park.

A local bus–which was really more like a songthaew–goes between New Sukhothai and Old Sukhothai on a regular basis for a small sum of 30 baht ($0.85 USD) one way. We caught it on New Sukhothai’s main road, not far from Poo Restaurant. The bus takes about twenty minutes to get from New Sukhothai to Old Sukhothai; while on the bus, we chatted with another solo female traveler who was also heading to see the ruins.

We were dropped off right outside the park entrance and immediately headed to rent bikes. There are a few bike rental places right across the street from the park entrance; for a small fee (I can’t remember how much off the top of my head), we acquired two rickety and questionably safe bikes for the day. I mean, I’m still here to tell the tale, but I’ve Continue reading “Sukhothai Historical Park”

Sukhothai: An Introduction

This is part one of a three-part Sukhothai series

The Sukhothai Kingdom, dating from the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries C.E., is historically known as the first capital of Siam (just to clarify, Siam is the name that The Kingdom of Thailand was known by internationally until the mid-twentieth century). Sukhothai Province is, therefore, one of two provinces in Thailand that is home to significant cultural and historical ruins from a former capital city (the other is Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province just northeast of Bangkok, which is home to Siam’s second capital).

Given my love of history and desire to see new places, I was eager to make it to the ruins of Sukhothai prior to my departure from The Kingdom–and boy, am I glad I did. My trip to Sukhothai happened in the five days I had between returning to Bangkok from Europe, and meeting my parents in Bangkok for our travels around Thailand together. What a grand time I had on this solo trip. I’m so thankful I took it upon myself to make this journey in the few extra days I had to myself in Thailand–especially when I could have very easily stayed in bustling Bangkok…I mean, it’s not like Bangkok is hurting for things do see and do. Still, I wanted to experience some place new…and Sukhothai was an absolutely perfect adventure.

Aside from the two lengthy days of travel that it took to get to and from Sukhothai from Bangkok, I spent three full Continue reading “Sukhothai: An Introduction”

From a Five Month Expat, With Love

Thailand,

It has come to my attention that I will be leaving your borders for the unforeseeable future quite soon. It’s an ending that’s coming quicker than I anticipated and it’s an ending that will fill me with an equal amount of joy–at the prospect of returning home–and sadness–because, well, Thailand, you’ve become a new home. Feelings aside (because we all know how much I love feelings), it’s an occurrence that will inevitably happen sooner than later. Well, Thailand, before the onset of said occurrence, I have some words to get out there regarding my time here.

— — — —

Oh Thailand, it’s been such a wild ride. One that I will never forget. One that has shaped me in more ways than I ever possibly imagined. Thailand–you are everything: frustrating, beautiful, frustratingly beautiful. You are exciting, an adventure always waiting to happen, a whirlwind of crazy, wonderful, exacerbating, so much life. You are an endless array of oxymorons and you never get old.

and Thailand…oh Thailand…

I love you.

I love you a lot.

Adjusting to you was far from easy. Sometimes, adjusting to you was downright the worst. Chief among the struggles I  encountered during my adjustment period was your food–because although there is so much to love about Thai food, eating it day in and Continue reading “From a Five Month Expat, With Love”

Where in the World am I?

Since I’ve been rather silent here on the blog for the past few weeks…

Currently: Northern Thailand. I am presently sitting in a small room in the guest house I’ll be staying in for the next few days as I explore a new part of Thailand. There’s no AC and it’s a bit dingy, but it was mega cheap and I can’t complain. It’s also quaint and homey and hearing the calm conversation of the Thai people and the small fountain outside my window is quite comforting.

The last two weeks: Denmark and Germany. I had such a wonderful time being shown around Europe by an old friend who is an au pair there. Her and her friends made my experience there so memorable. More to come on that later.

The next two weeks: Thailand. I have a few days to myself and am using that to embark on a short solo trip. My parents will arrive soon and I can’t wait to show them around this country that I’ve called home for the past six months. For now, it’s just me, myself, and the small amount of possessions I’ve carried with me for the last six months.

Later (or, when the next two weeks are over): Minnesota, U.S.A. It’ll be strange to be back in my hometown but I’m ready. These last few months have been really hard for me, but I’m so grateful for all that I’ve taken away from them and all that I’ve been able to see and do in the process. Thailand will always be one of my homes on this Earth, but it’s time to move on.

I expect to have a lot to write about once I return to U.S. soil.

Stay tuned.

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Møns Clint, Denmark. Taking it all in.

My Pursuit of Happiness

A handful of days ago, I was sitting in my friend Mo’s Bangkok apartment in tears. I had come to Bangkok for the weekend to celebrate the birthday of one of my TESOL friends; I had been so excited before leaving Nakhon Pathom for Bangkok–I was convinced the weekend would be fabulous. I recall thinking it might the first weekend in a long time that I’d be excited to go out with friends…

Well. It wasn’t.

Instead?

Instead, I spent the whole weekend feeling incredibly sad. Incredibly homesick. Incredibly lost. While I watched all of my friends have an amazing time, I felt like I was only half there. I wasn’t enjoying myself and all I wanted in the world was to go home…and not home to Nakhon Pathom, mind you–but home to the United States, to Minnesota.

It was only when I broke down at the end of the weekend in Mo’s apartment that the clarity I had needed all weekend came to the surface. “I just want to go home.” I blubbered to my friends. “I don’t know what’s happening to me…but I feel so lost and sad and just want to go home.”

It was in that moment that my friend Sarah looked me right in the eye and said something I knew instinctively to be true: “Britta, you’re not happy here. You’re not even happy with us.”

Her words rang in my head: You’re not happy here. In a matter of moments, the state of mind that had made up my whole semester made sense. Truthfully, in the last few weeks, I had come to realize this. Deep down, I had known that I wasn’t happy in my current situation. I was afraid to admit it to myself, though, because I was so determined to stay in Thailand and live my life as an expat.

Sarah was right, though. She is right. I love teaching and I love my students, but I haven’t experienced a true and lasting feeling of contentedness in Thailand since leaving the emotional high of Chiang Mai. I come home from school at the end of the day and don’t know what to do with myself. I haven’t been successful at meeting Thai people here and more so, I’m finding that I don’t want to. When I do meet up with my TESOL friends, I find myself not wanting to do anything. I wouldn’t consider myself a hardcore partier in the slightest, but I do like to go out on occasion–and I have had absolutely no desire to do that at all here. I feel uninspired and lost and although I’ve learned so much and tested myself in many ways in these past few months in Thailand, my life has felt more lifeless than anything. There have been moments, yes–mostly while traveling with TESOL friends, but also instances at school when I had a really successful class or after I’ve had a great interaction with a local in my town–but they have been far and few Continue reading “My Pursuit of Happiness”

To Be a Traveler

When I first decided to come to Thailand, traveling wasn’t a priority.

I came to Thailand because I’ve always been interested in living abroad for a time and I had recently developed a interest in education.

Sure, I guess I figured I would occasionally go on trips and I had talked with blogger friends who live a reasonable distance from Thailand about potentially visiting them.

That said, I never considered that traveling would ever become a part of my identity.

Than again, there’s so much about Thailand that I never considered would happen–the amazing, life-long friends I’d meet in my TESOL course…how deeply I care about my students and how badly I want them to succeed…how in love I became with this country in such a short amount of time…how I sometimes think about how I’m twenty-two years old and I live and work in the Bangkok Metropolitan Area and holy man, this is the amazing, post-college life I have created for myself. No, I never considered any of that. How could I? When I signed myself up to move to Thailand, I knew I’d learn a lot in the process–but didn’t realize how fundamentally it would change me.

As I move on with my life here, as I become more aware of why I’m here and what I hope to accomplish as an expat, I’m realizing more and more that I do identify a a traveler.

To be a traveler requires a whole different mindset. To be a traveler requires less of a concentration on material goods and more on living and breathing and experiencing. To be a traveler requires an understanding that money is necessary to get from place to place–and that a lot less of it is needed than one might think.

As I look ahead to my two month semester break in March and April, I’m realizing that if I want Continue reading “To Be a Traveler”