Saturday, November 23, 2013 10

     I think I found where I belong in Bangkok....the river! Today I set out to soak in as much culture as possible...or until I dropped. In hindsight, being what it is; I can honestly say...mission accomplished. I did some research last night, plotted my course, and devised a game plan. I started out with a nice 3 mile walk round trip; not including the wondering around at each site. First stop, The Grand Palace.I thought it was a single building at first, much like The White House; it is however a complex. Encompassing an area of 218,000 square meters; or 715,233 square feet; or 238,000 square yards....or about 350 football field. Ok enough math; it's enormous. It houses some 35 structures and was formerly the Royal Family's residence. I passed the new Palace on the taxi ride here; and it goes on for block after block. It is surrounded by military and police. I was in such awe, (read fear), that I opted not to take pictures. So here is an aerial photo of the Grand Palace:

       I would like to give myself some credit, I once again found what I was looking for today without getting lost. Sad that I am so proud of that fact, but I am.So I entered amongst  the crowd, I got there within 45 minutes of it opening, yet still a crowd. I wandered the grounds trying to it all in. It is so beautiful and majestic.

            I continued to explore, walking in circles, head up, camera in hand. I actually took more pictures today, than in an entire year at The South Pole.....guess there's just that much more to see here. I was really excited to see the Emerald Buddha. It's easy to know where such well know sights are....simply follow the masses. They one of the herd, I shuffled up to the entrance of the Wat; or Temple. The story of the Emerald Buddha; short version; is that it was discovered in 1434. It was actually covered in plaster, and if not for a chip on the nose, would of been considered ordinary. The abbot that discovered it thought it to be emerald; however it is actually jade. It is clad in one of three costumes changing to reflect the season; summer, rainy season, and winter; the changing of the costume is presided over by the king. It is one of the most venerated sites in all of Thailand. That being said there is a dress code to enter the Wat; as with all Wats. Long pants are required, no shoes, hats; you know "Church clothes". This mostly effects women in dresses, they must be long and have sleeves. They do provide a robe of sorts that you can put on to enter.

That is the stylish robe above. The rules are quite simple; it is after all a very special place to the people who's country you are in. Some people just don't get it.....The entrance alone was striking.

So I was well aware of the rules; all but one. There is no photography of any kind inside the temple. So....I borrow....

   It is 26 inches tall and carved out of one stone. Words can not describe how breathtaking the whole room is. It is also eerily quiet. So on I went exploring and snapping pictures. If a picture is worth a thousand words, I will same a few million and just show some highlights of the palace:

     So I left the palace and wondered on; next stop Wat Pho. Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhlaram Ratchaworamahawihan is the official name; Wat Pho; much easier. Wat Pho is the home of The Reclining Buddha and where the Thai massage originated. It is named after a monastery where Buddha was believed to have lived. The Reclining Buddha is far bigger than I ever imagined. I have seen pictures of it, but they due the sheer scale of it no justice.


       That was the main attraction at this temple; but far from all there was to see. Once again, I will wisely let the pictures speak for themselves.

       Final stop of the day......Wat Arun. I went by water taxi, which was very interesting. It is reminiscent of a city subway. They pack people on and off it goes. I was amazed that none of the boats on the river hit each other. They zig and zag all over, from one side of the river to the other. I was amazed until we were parking at the dock to unload and another boat just came in to park like we weren't there....and yes you guessed it, slammed right into us. No damage, just some strange looks exchanged between passengers.I guess you get what you pay for the ride cost 15 Baht; .47 cents!

 So the history of this temple is........

Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan or Wat Arun (Thai pronunciation: [wát ʔarun], "Temple of Dawn") is a Buddhist temple (wat) in Bangkok Yai district of Bangkok, Thailand, on the Thonburi west bank of the Chao Phraya River. The temple derives its name from the Hindu god Aruna,[1] often personified as the radiations of the rising sun. Wat Arun is among the best known of Thailand's landmarks and the first light of the morning reflects off the surface of the temple with pearly iridescence.[2] Although the temple had existed since at least the seventeenth century, its distinctive prang (spires) were built in the early nineteenth century during the reign of King Rama II.

      In short, it was an amazing temple. I climbed the central and most well known spire; which had the steepest steps I have ever seen. I am not sure how Asians climb these....well, I'll leave it at steep!

        Time to ring the final bell of the day and say goodnight. I have an exciting adventure planned for was a birthday gift to myself.....but you'll have to read about that tomorrow. So as I leave the "Temple of the Dawn" and sail off into the sunset?.....ok it was cloudy and grey; but I used my imagination, you should too!!! Until tomorrow......




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