Saying goodbye to Sukhothai, I traveled East just about an hour to Phitsanulok. I planned just a quick day trip and boarded a bus further East after my sightseeing was through. Michael, the German cycler, and the woman who ran the guest house in Sukhothai both gave high praises to the popular pilgrimage site located within town, Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahathat, home of the world’s most commonly reproduced Buddha image. This was my first stop. The grounds, which include the famous temple, educational buildings, a market, monks’ quarters and a museum, were in a flurry with Thai tourists (and zero farang). The temple is one of the largest in Thailand in the sense that it receives the largest total of annual donations. This is, no doubt, helped by the many ATMs located in the grounds. I didn’t stay here very long. I didn’t want to intrude upon what is a very sacred visit for Buddhists. I snapped a few pictures, turned a few heads, averted a few monks’ eyes and headed out to find some lunch.
Phitsanulok was bustling yet I managed to make my way about the city easily by foot, finding two vegetarian eateries within 20 minutes of each other. So, before arriving at my second destination, Sergeant Major Thawee Folk Museum, I had had two lunches and was ready to make my way through the museum’s grounds slowly. The museum was a wonderful stop. Much like the amazing Museum of Appalachia in Tennessee I visited earlier in the year, it is the result of an obsessively passionate quest to preserve regional folk life and sustain a cultural heritage that is slowly diminishing. The similarity of both projects is uncanny. Sergeant Major Thawee, the museum’s Director, has recreated daily life for early tribes people of the region through several teak houses. The exhibits were extensive: children’s toys, musical instruments, details of wedding and birthing rituals, early farming tools and procedures, currency, pottery, even cigarettes. Such an interesting trip into the area’s history. The museum also has an gift shop with adorable handmade crafts.
Folk cow bell.
Scary monkey toys.
Baby loin cloths.
Relaxing massage tool.
Thai Sailor Jerry.
And, in case you need to know, this is how to castrate cattle ye olde way. (Click to enlarge/cringe.)