New Sukothai is a throbbing, lively place, crushed up against the Yom (?) river.
Our guest house compound is Lotus Village. Teak outhouses, a pond with a fountain, ancient-seeming buildings of dark, dark wood, shining in the evening light, carved sliding doors, lush plants all creating an otherworld sanctuary.
The back door leads out to the river walk. A market and then a monastery. Moncaí (little monks) getting out of training. Some of them are sitting in the back, doing who-knows-what with 3 briefcases which they seem thoroughly amazed by. “Hello, Hello!” they call as I go by, laughing.
Roosters wander the grounds, unconcerned by the quiet presence of dogs.
A trio of little monks – small, medium and large, maybe 6, 8 and 10, trammel by in bare feet. “Hi, Hi!” they wave. “Sawatdeekrap” I reply in Thai, which turbo boosts them into laughter and across the bridge.
A vast temple ground across the river with the feeling of just-being-crowded but now stands empty. An enormous hall raised a story and a half above the ground. The gold, curled lightning standing high atop all the buildings. The intensity of enlightenment always crashing to the earth.
The next morning we drive to Buddhas, climb hills to Buddhas (in the stance of peace, fierceness, in the sitting moment of enlightenment). Is that a bodhi tree? Is that? Can we see our house from here? What are they burning over there?
Then crazy ancient English-style fixed-gear bicycles and the old capitol of Sukothai, ruined temples and moats and moats and ponds. Lotus burning up out of the dark water, great coi and catfish stirring ripples, unseen presences like unspoken fears or old habits.
School children, 3 to a bike, hilarious.
Sitting on an island facing a trio of buddha images. So much peace, I’m amazed it hasn’t taken over the world.
We return at night. It is cool and we are alone among the lit ruins and the faces of this man who lived so long ago, and changed this whole world.
Our guide joins our line-up with the first Buddha of good fashion (“Girl, do NOT go into enlightenment dressed like that.”). He balances it afterward with, “No disprespect. This place very old, very sacred,” hands on his heart, “I love.”