Tom and I first went to Si Satchanalai, an immense park filled with ruins. It was just under an hours’ bus ride away from Sukhothai proper and had far fewer tourists than in Sukhothai. The bus dropped us at the Chaliang side, quite a distance away from the main complex. At first we wondered if we’d got the right place as there was only a small row of tourist stands lining a dirt track. Taking faith in the handwritten signs, we hopped across a little suspension bridge…
… and soon found ourselves facing the majestic Chaliang compound, complete with imposing tower.
The ancients who occupied this city must have been incredibly short, because we had to bend almost double to pass under the entrance beam. That, or they deliberately built it low so that people had to bow every time they entered the area.
A massive Buddha image sat at the foot of the tower. Weathered as it was with most of the gold leaf sheared off by the elements, it still retained much of its former grandeur.
Its long curved fingers still rested elegantly on its knee after all these years.
Thankfully, the structure was still sturdy enough for visitors to climb to the shrine within the tower. From afar, it looked like a fairly innocuous and easy climb up.
You’ll have second thoughts when you reach the base of the stairs though. It’s surprisingly steep and practically impossible if not for the modern railings at the side. I wonder how the ancients managed.
On the other side of the Chaliang complex were some beautifully carved towers. The sheer intricacy of the work was very impressive.
Despite all the erosion, lots of detail still remained and I had to zoom in quite a bit with the camera to capture some of the fine craftsmanship.
Elsewhere in the complex were Buddha images in different poses, here one rather graceful and dancer-like.
Here two in deep meditation. I thought it rather interesting that the two Buddha faces were of different styles. I wonder if they were erected in different periods.
And yet another one. This one rather oddly enclosed in thick walls.
It was a lovely start to Si Satchanalai, complete with good weather, and we headed along the pathway to the main complex.