On an earlier post, I mentioned that Siam was a name used by outsiders and implied that changing the country’s name to Thailand was a move to clarify the nation’s ethnic identity. Well, that is only partly correct. Thais are one ethnic group in Thailand, and not coincidentally the group belonging to the king who changed the country’s name. For the many other ethnic groups here, (some of the “outsiders” who used “Siam”) the name Thailand is exclusive and many want the old name back. Many Thais also resent the use of “land” in the country’s name because it is English. Just one more reminder that every story has many perspectives!
I am staying at a very cool hotel in Sukhothai. It has wonderful architecture — and bunnies!
Another thing they have in my hotel that you don’t see much in Thailand — wine. Thais mostly drink beer (and don’t seem to drink much). Decent wine for less than $40 a bottle is hard to find. After I arrived last night, I enjoyed a French sauvignon blanc with my current favorite Thai dish, Khao Soi. Khao Soi is rice noodles in a spicy yellow curry, topped with crispy noodles and pickled vegies. It can be made with any type of meat or vegetables. This is the hotel’s version with a hard boiled egg and cilantro. I asked for “spicy.” After I started eating, the waiter came by about six times to ask how I was doing with the heat.
I am here to visit Sukhothai Historic Park, which is the site of the Kingdom of Siam’s first capital during the 13th and 14th centuries. What remains of the original city is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Thailand’s most important historic places. The site includes more than a dozen wats (temples) within several square miles of beautifully kept grounds and jungle. This morning, I hopped a local shuttle with a bottle of water and two cameras. At the park entrance, I rented a bike and toured the site for three hours. I deserve anything I want for dinner.
On my way out, I saw these young mud-covered men jogging and doing calisthenics through the site with an ambulance close behind. They are trainees in the Thai National Police and presented quite a contrast to the Thais in the park who were bowed in prayer at the Buddha statues. They deserve anything they want for dinner.
I just love Thailand.