I had booked the same bus as George, who I had met and spent some time with in Ayutthaya, so the two of us stuck together during the 6 hour bus ride to Sukhothai. It was actually a nice change of pace to have someone to talk to from the start, and made forced interaction with the other Westerners on the bus a little less weird. It also gave me a chance to study human interactions from a different perspective. Blame my psychology minor for this one, but one of the things I’ve discovered about traveling alone is that most couples, or even groups of people, don’t make a point to interact with a solo traveler on public transportation. They’ll smile politely, but they almost never carry on conversations with me, even if I attempt to have one. Occasionally I’ll get a little conversation, but for the most part I don’t make friends with couples or groups while in transit.
Solo travelers on the other hand are always so happy to meet another solo traveler that they’ll talk your ear off for hours. It then becomes a domino effect because other solo travelers seem to sense that you’re both alone and eventually join in, forming a small group of people who happen to be in the same place at the same time. I know it sounds a little strange, but there seems to be an unspoken division in backpacking society, and my theory on this has been true in every instance except on my bus ride to Sukhothai. This time I had George next me, and all the other couples on the bus assumed we were just that, a couple.
For the first time during my trip, a group of travelers made an effort to talk to me. It seemed odd to me then, but as I think back on it now, it probably had everything to do with the fact that George’s things were on the seat next to me, so in some way I didn’t seem needy or threatening at all. They continued the friendly conversation even in the taxi we shared, where we were all shoved into the back, basically on top of one another, so the driver could make more money as we all searched for accommodation. To be fair, their assumptions about George and I probably had something to do with the fact that we were looking to find rooms in the same hostel, since we had both been told there was space available. After discovering that the hostel we were looking at only had one room, George graciously gave it to me and continued on in search of somewhere else to stay. We made an ill-formed plan to run into one another at the historical park the next day and parted with a quick goodbye. I spent the night in my room updating my blog, social media, email, etc. (which I find myself doing a lot) and didn’t think anything of the events of the day.
I woke up late thanks to the dark shades over the windows in my room, and took my time getting ready for the day. The extra sleep I had gotten made the day take on a different feeling. Usually I’m up and out the door before I even have time to process that the sun is up, but the cave like feeling of my dark room seemed to suck the energy right out of me. Eventually I made it downstairs to book another night, which I would have done the night before if it hadn’t been for the lack of cash in my wallet. From there I went off in search of the bus for the Historical Park, and ran into two of the women who I had met on the bus the night before. Apparently, George had found a room in their hostel, so they chatted with me for a few minutes about him and their hostel, before almost instantly going from overly polite to surveying me in my singleness with skepticism. It was an odd thing to find myself suddenly unaccepted because I was without what they thought was my other half, but I pretended not to notice and wished them a good day when we arrived and ran off to rent a bicycle.
Once I had two wheels, I purchased my ticket and headed in to view my first set of ruins. By chance I ran into George. He had been there a few hours already and was on his way out of the park, so we chatted for a bit, said our goodbyes and headed our separate ways. What followed consists of a lot of bike riding, photo snapping, and walking that I’ll leave out in the interest of keeping your attention. Instead I’ll just skip ahead a little and tell you that as I was editing my photos a few days later, they seemed to be begging me to change them to black and white. Being the kind soul that I am, I obliged and made black and white copies of all of the Sukhothai photos on my computer.
When I was done venturing around the historic park, I returned my bicycle, bought an iced coffee and settled into the back of the bus for the ride back into new Sukhothai. I spent a little time relaxing before venturing out a few hours later. I wandered into the night market, which was overwhelmingly small compared to most of them I had been too, and aimlessly wandered the streets getting a feel for the city. Soon I found a place named Chopper Bar and settled in for some live Thai music and good food. While I was there I ran into everyone I had met on the bus ride from Ayutthaya, with the exception of George. The two ladies I had shared the bus with earlier in the day stopped to chat with me for a moment on their way out, and the other two couples in the restaurant ran into me as we were all exiting the bar.
They asked why I was all alone and wondered about how George was feeling. I quickly corrected them and told them all about how we had only met in Ayutthaya and happened to be traveling on the same bus to Sukhothai. Once they realized I was all alone, the tone of the conversation changed and they quickly told me goodbye. I headed off towards my guesthouse and laughed a little at how interesting assumptions can be. Suddenly, when I was all alone, the people who were so friendly to me before couldn’t wait to get away from me. If I had formed any sort of attachment to them I might have been offended to their sudden dismissal of me, but instead I realized that in some way or another us single travelers are seen as outcasts, or at the very least like stray animals. I can’t say for sure that this is indeed how the backpacking world works, but I’ve certainly noticed it during my trip through Thailand. As I found my way back to my guesthouse and passed another small group of people who didn’t return my hello, I decided that my theory is probably correct… or that I’m WAY too weird for people to stand.
Day 1 Total: 405 Baht or $13.83 for accommodation, taxi ride, food & drinks
Day 2 Total: 703 Baht or $24 for accommodation, bus rides, bicycle, entrance fee, food & drinks