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When I began planning my year-long travels a few months ago, I did not want this to be a vacation, but rather a journey 📿. A journey of discovery, a journey of self-discovery … a journey of learning and of sharing. Therefore I created a framework around my travels by selecting a few specific themes and far-away places (I will disclose them one by one as I go through my journey). The first theme is ancient history exploration with focus on distinctly influential empires and enigmatic disappearing cultures. Sukhothai became my first stop from this theme as it intrigued me with its short-lived history, comprehensive cultural foundation, advanced hydraulic engineering and stunning architectural style known as the “Sukhothai style”.

Sukhothai became the capital of the first Siamese kingdom in 1238 CE and it literally means “Dawn of Happiness”. What an excellent choice for a name of a brand new empire, right!? For two centuries as the capital of Siam, Sukhothai was ruled by many kings. The most prolific monarch, however, was King Ramkhamhaeng the Great 👑 famously known as the creator of the Thai alphabet. He pioneered the creation of Siamese art and architecture, language and literature, religion and the codification of law. By laying down solid political, religious and cultural foundations of the first Siamese kingdom, King Ramkhamhaeng the Great rapidly expanded Sukhothai’s boundaries of influence beyond the region.

Although the golden era of Sukhothai lasted less than two centuries, its masterpieces 🖼 of a distinctive Siamese architectural style (see pictures below), reflected in the planning of the towns, the impressive civic and religious buildings, their urban infrastructure and a sophisticated hydraulic system are all testaments to the kingdom’s innovative accomplishments and significant influence in ancient and modern Southeast Asia. The Giant Buddhas of Sukhothai are the most beautiful I have seen in Asia, designed in a uniquely original style with elongated bodies, heads and hands.

For over 2 days, I cycled around 🚴🏼 in owe exploring Sukhothai’s thousands of beautiful ruins and magnificent statues at sunrise and sunset. I met up with a wonderful girl from Germany — Katrin — whom I endearingly referred to as Miss Hepburn. She thought me how to slow down (even on a bicycle) and truly observe life at and beyond the ruins, including admiring lotus flowers floating peacefully in the lakes and watching termite armies platoon in perfect unison into a stupa.

We ate the local Sukhothai noodles and drooled over an omelet-wrapped Pad Thai (I ate two in a row #2die4), while discussing various metaphysical topics with a French couple next to our table. Thank you Katrin for teaching me how to slow down and enjoy Sukhothai in a way I couldn’t have been able to do by myself. Danke schön! 🙏🏼📿🌐

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Sunrise over the ancient Kingdom of Sukhothai

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Awaken

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Sunrise at Wat Saphan Hin

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Wat Chang Lom

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White Elephants symbolize fertility and knowledge

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Wat Khao Phra Bat Noi

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Birds flying over Wat Maha That

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Lake view of Wat Maha That

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Lotus family in full bloom

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Wat Sa-Si

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The Beginning

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Cosmic omens at Wat Si Chum

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Touching the moment of enlightenment with Shakyamuni

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The Giant Buddha

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Miss Hepburn & I

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“Vitarka Mudra” symbolizes intelectual argement and discussion

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Wat Sa-Si

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The heart of ancient Sukhothai

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Sunset at Wat Maha That

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