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Posts tagged bangkok

Emerald Buddha

phra wiharn yod

The grounds and buildings around the Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha are amazing. Add to that the sky we experienced, and I entered photographer’s nirvana. I took a few hundred photos, but will spare you from having to see them all.

The first picture, above, is mainly of Phra Wiharn Yod.

Alan and Ellie Case outside the Royal Pantheon bangkok thailand

Royal Pantheon from hor phra gandhararat

The above photo is of the Royal Pantheon and was taken from the building which houses the Emerald Buddha.

emerald buddha bangkok thailand

Above is the Emerald Buddha, not nearly as impressive, to me anyway, as the Reclining Buddha. He is actually made of jade rather than emerald. The king gives him an outfit change a few times a year. You can only see a small piece of the vast amounts of gold that fill this room from this picture. Photography isn’t allowed inside. I took this picture from outside.

thai buddhist demon temple guardian holding up golden stupa

Holding up the golden, bell-shaped towers (stupa) are these temple guardians or demons.

golden stupa emerald buddha grand palace bangkok thailand

nice backdrop for a family photo

The ultimate Thai backdrop for a family photo…

lotus pond

Lotus pond basins dotted the landscape of the temple grounds.

sky contrasted with thai buddhist architecture

Did I mention how cool the sky was on this day?

Wat Phra Kaew

Wat Phra Kaew fence and outer grounds

After exiting Wat Pho through the back we made our way up the east fence (pictured above) to get into Wat Phra Kaew (which includes the Emerald Buddha and the Grand Palace). There was no entrance on the east side either. Finally, when we got to the north side we found the only way in.

case family at Wat Phra Kaew bangkok thailand

The admission to this place is the only thing I found expensive in Bangkok. It was 350 baht (about $11) each. That’s about the same fee as the expensive temples in Kyoto, Japan (the ones in Tokyo are free and the ones in Kamakura are either free or close to it), but this is Thailand where most people make less than 250 baht per day. For example, the meal we had just eaten, for four with drinks, was less than admission for one of us. But the guidebooks said this was the place not to miss so we paid, and we were not disappointed.

One, quick, funny story about Ellie’s shirt in the above photo… She had on a dress with tights underneath. Even though the tights weren’t tight and went below her knees and her dress almost went down to her knees the guards would not let her in, saying she was too immodest. So Linda took her to the bathroom where her dress was pulled down below her knees and put a souvenir, Bangkok t-shirt on to cover up where her dress was. We made it through with this far sillier, and no more modest, outfit with no questions asked.

frescos wall paintings at Wat Phra Kaew

The frescoes along the inner walls of the temple are fantastic. You could spend a day just examining them. A guide who could of told us the stories painted on the walls would have been nice.

thai person painting at Wat Phra Kaew fresco bangkok

Several Thai artists were freshening up the murals.

More from Wat Po

case family at wat po temple pho bangkok thailand

There was more to Wat Pho than the Reclining Buddha. We didn’t have time to see it all since we still wanted to see the Emerald Buddha and Grand Palace before everything closed in a few hours. But there were many Thai-style buildings, Buddhas, and interesting grounds to explore at Wat Pho.

wat po buildings bangkok thailand buddhist

The air was surprisingly clear for (I’m guessing normally smoggy) Bangkok. I like the way the gold edge on this building caught the sun with the blue sky background. (You can click on it for a much larger view.)

gold buddha desciples wat pho bangkok thailand

The above Buddha statue is different than any I have seen before in that he has disciple statues facing him.

wat po blue skies fluffy clouds

Not only were the skies blue, but they had some of my favorite kind of clouds added to the mix as well. I couldn’t have asked for more picture-perfect scenes.

Wat Po (or Pho) – The Reclining Buddha

ryan with a statue near the entrance to wat pho po Phra Chetuphon

After our meal, mentioned last time, we headed toward the complex that houses the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) and Grand Palace. Unfortunately, there are no signs telling you where the entrance is and we approached from the west and turned south. The entrance, we eventually found out, is on the north side, but the walls around it go on forever.

Numerous scammers tried to convince us that the place was closed for one reason or another in order to get us into a Tuk Tuk that an accomplice was operating. Eventually we made it to the south of the Grand Palace walls. While there we decided to check out Wat Po.

Phra Chetuphon reclining buddah bangkok thailand giant gold buddha

The highlight of Wat Po is the giant, gold Buddha inside one of the many buildings. Photos don’t do this Buddha justice. I tried numerous angles to try and capture its essence, but I just don’t get the same impression from the photos as I did in its presence. The statue is over 150 feet in length (imagine half a football field if that helps).

giant gold buddha feet bangkok thailand

You could fit a dozen people in the Buddha’s gold feet alone.

bottom of buddha's gold feet reclining bangkok wat thailand

The bottom of the Buddha’s feet and the eyes are the only parts not covered in gold.

buddha rests on hand and two giant gold blocks bangkok thailand

The building around the gold Buddha adds to the atmosphere. In addition to the pillars, which make a full view impossible (except from the end), the walls and ceiling are covered in frieze and paintings, and the sound inside is of metallic rain.

mural inside wat pho 108 bronze bowls for coins bangkok thailand

Once you round the Buddha, you will see where the sound is coming from. People drop coins into 108 bronze bowls along the wall on the Buddha’s back side. Offerings at such places always seem tacky to me, but the sound created by the coins hitting the bronze bowls actually added to the atmosphere.

One Night in Bangkok

Before leaving Lumpini Park, we encountered some more curiosities (beyond the water monitors). The first was when a song began to play over the loudspeaker system and everyone in the park froze. It was like a giant game of freeze tag. Hundreds of people who had been jogging just a second before were suddenly held perfectly still as if by some supernatural force. As soon as the song ended they resumed their activities.

The Thai people pretty much worship their king. Apparently the song was the king’s song. We heard it again when we saw a movie (Avatar) in Phuket. It played before the movie and everyone jumped out of their seats to stand at attention while it played. Seeing this is very bizarre as a foreigner. The king’s image is all over the country, plastered on street corners and virtually every business.

Anyway, the other unusual thing in this park were the aerobics sessions that were happening. They didn’t seem to be official classes–just people who happened to show up. The leaders/aerobics instructors also appeared to be random people. The “aerobics class” pictured above was actually after dark. The only reason it looks so light is I did a 5 second exposure.

After the park we headed down Silom Road towards our hotel. Like most streets in Bangkok, things are a bit “different.” The sidewalks are in need of serious repair. Every few steps you’ll find your foot in a pothole. There is also an elevated, pedestrian walkway down the middle of the street–something I have never seen before.

We made a right turn on Thaniya Road looking for a restaurant. This is actually a red-light district so we got an eyeful of non-food sights. We didn’t see any Japanese people in the area, but, as you can see in the above photo, many signs were in Japanese. Maybe the Japanese come out later?

After dinner we went down Patpong Road, another “red-light” street. This one has stalls selling goods to tourists between the bars, strip clubs, and brothels.

silk in red light district of bangkok thailand

We ended up with several silk, pillow covers from this place.

Chao Phraya River

Chao Phraya River public boat transportation Express

Chao Phraya is the river that runs through Bangkok. There is a public boat-bus system set up called the Chao Phraya River Express. I was picturing something like the Grand Canal in Venice where there are basically three kinds of boats–gondolas, bus boats, and others making deliveries. I was also imagining a formal ticketing system (like Venice) where you purchase a ticket before riding the River Express. Finally, I figured the boats would be clearly marked as part of the River Express (maybe they are marked in Thai–but there are no Roman letters to be seen).

Not so on all counts. First of all, the boat “bus” stops are nearly impossible to recognize. They are dilapidated, mini piers with no signs getting you there and only one sign once you are there (visible only from the river). The people working on the piers are trying to sell you a ride on one of their boats, not the River Express. The River Express is 9 baht. Their boats are 1,000+ baht.

To make matters worse, there are dozens of different kinds of boats landing at these piers. No announcement is made when the River Express lands. There is no time schedule posted, etc. The River Express employees make no announcements when they arrive or depart. You merely have to know that you are getting on the correct boat. The boat pictured above is the correct one.

The boats arrive and depart without warning. If you don’t immediately get on, you will not be getting on. It’s that simple (or frustrating depending on whether you get on the correct boat or not).

We took the River Express (there is nothing “express” about it by the way) from Pier 1 (Oriental Pier) to Pier 9 (Tha Chang Pier). Even though the water is seriously polluted, and we had to stand the entire way, the ride was somehow refreshing–much cooler anyway than standing or walking around Bangkok in the middle of the day.

Chao Phraya River bangkok Wat Kalayanmit

A few temples (wat) can be seen from the river. One is Wat Kalayanmit, pictured above. The boat pictured in front of this temple is a long tail boat, which you can rent to cruise the Bangkok waterways or to get to one of Thailand’s many islands.

Chao Phraya River wat arun temple dawn

Another of the temples that can be partially viewed from the Chao Phraya River is Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn).

lunch thai food off Chao Phraya River

Once we arrived at Pier 9 we found ourselves in the middle of a shopping/eating center of sorts. We had brunch at the place above. There are few other places in the world where a family of four can all be happy with their meal and the bill come to less than $10 total.