I guess I could have found a better title but I am excited about returning to Thailand in October to cycle from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. It is going to be an incredible trip. Chiang Mai has been getting a good bit of press in America recently as a low-cost retirement destination. Trekkers and backpackers have long known it as a laidback location and a great jumping off point for hiking in the old Lanna kingdom. For cyclists it is becoming a Thai version of Girona. For me, it will be the starting point for a ten (10) road bike trip to Bangkok.
I plan to arrive in Chiang Mai a few days early to visit some of the historic sites. Since Chiang Mai was founded over 700 years ago successive kings have left their mark on the city by building temples. It seems that both Thai and European kings thought that building temples and churches might be a good way to atone for sins and buy a ticket to heaven. Today, Chiang Mai is overflowing with ancient Buddhist temples dating back to 1296 when the city was founded.
As we bicycle South towards Bangkok we will go through several historic sites. Modern Thailand is a combination of several old kingdoms. The Kingdom of Sukhothai existed from 1238 until 1583. The ruins of the old capital Sukhothai are a UNESCO World Heritage historical park. We will cycle through the park.
We will also visit Ayutthaya which was the capital of a Siamese kingdom that existed from 1351 to 1767. Ayutthaya was an international center engaged in trade with the Chinese, Vietnamese, Indians, Japanese and Persians, and later with the Portuguese, Spaniards, Dutch and French. Ayutthaya’s time as Thailand’s capital came to an abrupt end in 1767 when the city was sacked by Burmese invaders. Today, it is an UNESCO World Heritage site.
I will stop before this becomes a Thai history lesson but I think you can sense my excitement. This is going to be a wonderful trip. Before then, I have several other trips and a good deal of bicycling to do. Now I have to go pack as we are taking the morning train to Washington, D. C.