After breakfast, we met Boe and our driver at 8:00am, and made the short drive to the Grand Palace. We arrived just before the 8:30 opening, giving Boe the chance to give us some of the basic info about the Grand Palace. It’s easy to lose track of which king built what (10 kings since 1882), but I believe it was built by Rama II, the second king of the Bangkok era.
I can’t imagine anything being more gilded than these temples and shrines. The Thai people love gold leaf. Everywhere, gold, gold, gold! Beautiful buildings with elaborate architecture and it all seems to relate to beliefs and the mythology of the beliefs (as they said). Along the interior walls surrounding the temple area are 178 murals depicting the history of Thailand since 1782 to now. It doesn’t sound like much till you see them, with all the intricate drawing and gold leaf.
After the Grand Palace, we took a short ride to Wat Pho, the largest Buddhist Temple in Thailand and the home of the Reclining Buddha. It’s huge, as you can see from the photos. While we were in the Temple, we heard singing and came upon a singing contest with small student groups from schools all over Thailand. There were judges and everything. It made me feel right at home. There were also groups warming up in various places around the temple. There was music everywhere!
Judy standing next to her birthday Buddha. Our guide looked up the day of her birth (Monday), and she was able to put some gold leaf on her own Buddha. Each day of the week had it’s own Buddha.
After the temple, we were dropped at the Bangkok Flower Market. It’s a 24-hour facility with workers hauling lots of flowers, plants, vegetables, and herbs all over the building. This is the only wholesale site for these items so it’s really busy.
A few blocks from the Flower Market, we arrived at the river “Chao Phraya”. It’s the main river of Bangkok, with boats and ferries everywhere. A steady stream of huge barges tied together were pulled and pushed through this segment of the river as we watched.
Lunch was good, with a few different Thai dishes picked out by Boe. It’s hot and humid today, and the air-conditioning feels really good. We took our time finishing. After lunch, we went down to the pier and boarded our own long-tail boat for a ride across the river to Thonburi, the ancient capital of Thailand.
A large variety of residences line these canals. As we entered the residence canal area from the river, there was a set of locks where we waited as the water level was brought up to match the canal. (The river level was down slightly) As we cruised through the canals, we had an occasional stop to visit some different temples.
Boe told us yesterday that water monitors were very prevalent in Thailand. He showed us some “water monitor” key chains and large stuffed animals in the markets. We saw some big ones today that weren’t stuffed. They’re big, but apparently not aggressive unless harassed. They like to climb up on the docks along the canals and sun themselves.
After the last temple stop, we caught a ferry back across the river to Bangkok, near the Grand Palace, and boarded our car back to the hotel. We’ve had two amazing days of activities and sights. I’m glad we were finally able to visit the city of Bangkok, and not just the airport as we flew thru headed to other destinations.