Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Say Wat??

Day two in Bangkok was spent as tourists.  We visited the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho, Wat Arun, and Wat Trimit.  Along the way we learned to navigate a few dodgy alleys, find our way on to a commuter ferry and also learned, quickly, that the safest way to cross the street is to walk quickly and at a steady pace!

Day one in Bangkok went a little later than we originally anticipated so day two started a bit later than expected, but we still managed to fit in a whole lot of stuff and it turned out to be a fantastic day. 

After and omelet and iced coffee at Nap Park we ventured out to see the sights. First stop, the Grand Palace. The grand Palace was established in 1782 when the King Rama I decided the former capital of Thonburi was not suitable and he chose to move it to the other side of the river, where the palace was built. It houses not only Royal Residences but also several government offices and most importantly, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Phra Kaew.  Today, however, the palace is only used for certain ceremonial occasions.
First  sight  upon  Entering  the  Palace

The Emerald Buddha is a little guy, but also happens to be one of Thailand’s most famous buddha’s. Originally discovered in 1434, this little Buddha endured an long journey from northern Thailand, where it was hidden in stucco while traveling to  it's current home. On it’s way there it was seized by Lao forces only to be recovered by Thai’s some time later. The Emerald Buddha is actually made of Jade, but once thought to be emerald because of the way in which the magnificent green color was revealed as the stucco was removed over time, thus giving it the name the Emerald Buddha.

After viewing the Emerald Buddha we wandered around the palace for a couple hours, listening to the guided audio tour.  I wish we had found someone to take a picture of us together. We were a sight to see in our barrowed “appropriate” clothing, sweating buckets with camera and audio tours hanging form our necks! Fortunately, we were not the only pair who looked this way.

On our way out of the palace we really wanted icecream but settled for something called Roselle Juice. Not exactly sure what that is, but it was cold and passed as a close second.  It was pasteurized too, I’m not honestly sure what it was.

After leaving the Grand Palace, we followed the directions of “left, and then left again” in search of the reclining Buddha at Wat Pho.  Wat Pho is the oldest and largest temple in Bangkok, no surprise it’s the largest, it’s home to a reclining Buddha, who is 46meters long and 15 meters high.  It’s toe is size of a human head.

After the reclining Buddha we had one more “need-to-see,” The Golden Buddha.  This guy is cool because it too was hidden in plaster and stucco until the mid-1900’s when the plaster fell off after having been dropped while being re-located only to reveal a magnificent  3meter tall, 5 and a half ton solid gold Buddha!

Unfortunately we got a little distracted on our way to finding the Golden Buddha. When we thought we were boarding a ferry to take us down the river we actually found ourselves on a ferry that simply took us across the river, whoops! But that’s okay, because we just found ourselves in a very lovely spot and steps away from Wat Arun.  This wasn’t on the agenda at the beginning of the day, but I’m happy we found ourselves here. That’s the part of traveling with only “sort of” a plan I like.  Wat Arun is named after the indian god of dawn, Aruna.  The entire thing is 82m high and covered in porcelain.  The public was allowed to climb the stairs about two thirds of the way to top, so of course we did that!

After Wat Arun we made our way back across the river to catch a ferry that would indeed take us down the river to within walking distance of Wat Traimit where could find the Golden Buddha. Upon arriving we saw a sign noting the temple was only open to the public from 8am to 5pm, it was 5:15. But, lucky for us, we must look like good people, because a security guard approached us and asked what we were looking for. After  we explained we were searching for the Golden Buddha, he showed us the way.  It was rather nice to see this glorious Golden Buddha without the company of other tourists.

After the golden Buddha we found our way back to the ferry dock to further make our way back to Nap Park hostel.  Coincidently, we landed ourselves on an express ferry that took us directly to the stop we wanted to go to. From there, had just a little more walking to do.  Unfortuanely we found ourselved on the wrong side of several busy roads.  This was where we learned that you just have to be brave and quick if you ever want to get across the street.  Just look for a small gap in the stream of motor vehicles coming at you and GO! The ones you couldn’t see when you stepped in to the street will just correct their route according to you.  So you’re actually best not to stop when they come out of nowhere or they probably will hit you!

Finally as darkness set in on the day we found ourselves back on Khosan Rd. We were finally hungry again and had not had the street pad thai yet.  So what do you think we had for dinner? One dish of pad thai and a spring roll please, thank
you! It was the best meal I’ve had yet.

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