Out of the big city into the small city [less than 36,000 people versus more than 8 million], and from the city renovation project that envisions the future [CU Park], to the ruins of an ancient city, I arrive more than 400 kilometres north of Bangkok, in Sukhothai.
The ruins of Sukhothai are moreover intresting because they are what remains of the Thai capital during the 13th Century; moreover, the ancients temples and monuments have been nominated as UNESCO World Heritage.
Warm and Dry
Apparently Sukhothai actually means ‘Dawn of Happiness’, which makes me leave early morning to rent a bicycle and go explore the surroundings of Sukhothai, which are mainly marked by rice paddies and other agricultural features, from cockfights to tobaco fields.
‘You know what’s remarkable?’ he asked me before I cycled away, ‘we are in the cold season now, and it is not cold at all, don’t you think.’ I nod confirming. ‘Moreover, this is a tropical country, with lots of rain, one should think there is an abundance of water. But not anymore, this year we suffered droughts.’ Which is even a bigger problem in an agricultural area as the area of Sukhothai.
I start cycling through the rice paddies, a topic on which I will come back later, since they have many to do with climate change mitigation and adaptation; but that’s a story for later.
However, it is fascinating to see how the water is pumped from the river aside into the paddies, how the rice is in various phases of growth, from green, growing, tiny halms, to ready-to-harvest heavy rice-loaden ones. Other rice paddies already passed through the after-live phase, from golden dried halms, to black burned-down desolated squares.
More on that, later on.
Tobaco and Whisky
Further on, there are fields of tobaco, a large group of farmers is spreading litle plants into the dry and irrigated soil; they offer water, and even whisky, with a smile, and covered up for the burning sun.
Further aside of the fields there are wooden constructions where the tobacco will be laid out to dry later on, after harvesting; but that’s for the future, first it has to grow. Which I guess will become more complicated considering the remarks of the bike owners, droughts and heath where it is supposed to be rainy and cool.
The red coloured soil and the hangars to dry the tobacco remind me heavily on Cuba.
So the tobacco dries in this hangars, but where does the rice dry? As the question is out there, the answer comes my way when continuing the road. In front of a temple there is a huge plastic canvas on which the rice is spread to dry.
Guarded by a huge quantity of birds on the roof of the temple, the rice is exposed to the mercy and the drying power of the burning sun; warm and dry. One could imagine how these birds would be keen to dive into this abundancy of food, but they don’t. Watching the lady on the bench in the shade right next to the rice made explain them.
Which brings me to the rice again, the paddies and the deeper dive I want to take in the topic in later posts.
Let’s get back on the road now, before it gets too dry and too hot.