IN HARMONY WITH SUKHOTHAI
A weekend at the ancient capital brought aficionados of the Beautiful Harmony radio show closer to farming and nature, cultural heritage and music
Music, friends and countryside combined to provide a welcome weekend escape from Bangkok life. The DJ team of the Beautiful Harmony radio show teamed up with Bangkok Airways to bring their fans on a three-day trip to Sukhothai in early August. The group explored the local historical and cultural attractions, had a theme party featuring Pinky & the Jingle Bell, experienced farming life and indulged in delicious organic food.
Following the spectacular first trip to Bhutan, the Sukhothai trip was the first domestic getaway for the disk jockeys and their fans. DJ Thanasorn Kiratibutr, the CEO, and DJ Kridkamon Kiratibutr, managing director of Pink Media Co Ltd, which produces the Beautiful Harmony, Sunday Jazz and Sunday Special shows broadcast on Love Radio 104.5, said the trip was organized to tighten the bonds of friendship between the DJs and fans, who share the same love for the music of the ’70s.
Sukhothai (Dawn of Happiness), is packed with historical, cultural and natural charm. The first capital of Thailand is home to three UNESCO World Heritage sites: Sukhothai, Kamphaeng Phet and Si Satchanalai historical parks, where fascinating archaeological ruins and objects tell the story of the Kingdom’s past. It is the land that gave birth to the Phoom Khao Bin, or Bua Toom (lotus bud), stupa shape and the gentle Sukhothai-style Buddha images, models of religious art that would later be adopted into other styles.
After checking in at Baan Tong Na and sipping rice tea at Krua Sukho, the group set out to explore Sukhothai Historical Park, 12km from New Sukhothai town. The centre of the park forms a rectangle of 2km east-west and 1.6km north-south, with 193 temple ruins rising above manicured gardens shaded by giant trees. Most of the temples were constructed with laterite delivered by slaves on foot from Si Satchanalai nearly 100km away. The Khmer and Ayutthaya temple architectures remain as the latter took over from the former in the ancient Sukhothai kingdom. Big and small reservoirs here and there create a variegated landscape.
The group started the following day putting on mauhom farmer outfits and getting ready to learn organic farming. Breakfast was served at Krua Sukho, the dining area overlooking green paddies. The meals were presented in careful detail, with buffet food prepared in banana leaves. All ingredients from the organic farming project were fresh and cooked into typical dishes such as pork curry with water spinach, pad thai, tamarind chilli sauce and mango chilli sauce. They also served creative dishes such as fried chicken in basil leaves and lotus stems, and fried Chinese buns with sweet chilli sauce.
The farming project at Sukhothai Airport is one of the first recognized organic agricultural projects in the country, and has passed on research and knowledge to the local communities. The project thrives on its developed rice species, such as red fragrant unpolished Sukhothai rice and black fragrant unpolished Sukhothai rice, not to mention the unpolished fragrant jasmine rice, whose leaves are made into delicious chlorophyll shakes and caffeine-free tea. They also harvest vegetables, fruits and duck eggs, and raise poultry and 220 water buffalos including albino ones, some of which are donated to villagers for breeding. The produce is sent to organic shops at Bangkok Hospitals around Thailand and prepared for Bangkok Airways in-flight meals.
In the afternoon, the group was given a short lecture by a rice academic before going on a bicycle tour around the airport complex, paying homage to a few highly revered Buddha images and visiting the zoo again. The night passed with another delicious meal and music before guests retired to the nearby Sukhothai Heritage Resort.
“I’m very impressed with the programme and activities the organizers arranged for us,” said Dr Poonsak Waikwamdee, a trip participant. “At the organic farm, I got to do things I’ve never done in my life as a city dweller, like riding a buffalo and planting rice seedlings. This place has taught me about the organic lifestyle concept, to pay attention to where our food comes from and eat clean. It has proven we can live without polluting nature and the environment. I also appreciate how the trip organizers are very casual but so attentive to us. I get to listen to contemporary music, reminding me of my teenage years, and get to know the other trip participants – lovely people. They made this trip very special for me.”