We followed the track from Chaliang to the main complex at Si Satchanalai, passing by some private houses and a gate post that stuck to the theme of the area.
Si Satchanalai was more park than ruin, with lovely paths leading here and there, plus some formidable flights of stairs that took so much out of us that we couldn’t do photos. At the top of one such hill was a temple ruin. The Buddha image looked like it used to be housed under a roof and still had pillars surrounding it. Even though there was a brick stairway leading up here, the trees growing thickly round made it feel like a chance finding.
Again, the Buddha image was much venerated despite its age and exposure to the elements. The cloth draping seemed to have been recently changed.
Further along from the first image, the trees thinned out somewhat and we came across a stupa and the forlorn remains of a little temple.
There were some very badly weathered Buddha images, some still venerated fairly recently as seen from the scraps of faded now dun-coloured cloth still clinging on to the image.
Others were in even worse off shape and looked like they’d been in retirement for a hundred years at least.
We stopped for a while to marvel how such a temple with two stupas could be built at the top of the steep hill. It must have taken lots of hard labour for the stones to be carted up and assembled to form such grand structures.
Standing right at the top, we took in the lovely greenery below: of trees and the occasional stupa poking out in between. It was such a peaceful and serene sight.
Back on lower ground, there were much more extensive structures, this time more of a holy city than simple temple. This one below had a Buddha image flanked by great serpents, which I liked a lot. There was something somewhat contradictory about the serenity of Buddha and the venomous snake juxtaposed that appealed to me.
In these ruins, we noticed that new inhabitants had replaced the ancient humans. These brothers were rather shy.
But one of them was braver than the other…
… and came right up to check us out. He allowed Tom just one quick pat.
And one pat was all. They allowed us a celebrity photo of them posing nicely.
And then we were left to ponder the ancients on our own.