16.04.2006 38 °C
A few days after my Bangkok Songkran experience I had made it to the ancient city of Sukhothai to check out the ruins of the 12th and 13th century capital of the Thai kingdom.
The ruins were all in park areas with beautiful landscaped gardens, ancient trees, ponds and lots of flowers. I rented a bike and rode around the ruins for two days with my new German friends, Christian and Martin.
While biking and sweating it out in the afternoon sun a Thai family eating in their yard by the roadside invited us to join them. We did and shared some food and beer and had a stilted conversation in English with our few words of Thai thrown in. After 20 minutes it was apparent that the family was preparing for some sort of ritual and they invited the three of us to participate. It was amazing, about 4 or 5 ancient and beautifully wrinkled women sat down on chairs in front of their house next to a little shrine with a Buddha statue.
The other 20 or so family members (and the three of us) lined up to pour water on the Buddha image and then on the women in a much ritualized fashion, and some of the younger women even bathed the women's backs. It was beautiful and I was so honored to have been invited. We sat with them and were offered lots of whisky, beer and some food as well, then said farewell.
Not half an hour later the three of us tourists were beckoned over by another group of Thais sitting in a beautiful spot by a pond and some of the ruins. We went over and found out that they were a group of deaf Thai people who were all communicating by sign language. With absolutely no reference point or any language in common, but a Thai phrasebook, pen and paper, more whiskey and lots of laughter and smiles we somehow had a conversation. It was rough going, but a very rewarding experience.