Our hotel includes a free half-day tour of guest’s choice of 3 sights in Bangkok and we chose to go see the major temples – I tried haggling them into paying usto go on the tour since I read that everything is negotiable, but it fell on deaf on ears. Our guide Jean met us in front of the hotel and off we went.
The first stop was Temple of the Dawn – which I thought would be filled with dish-washing detergent since the outside of it is completely covered in broken dishes – but surprisingly it was just some hundred-year-old temple!
Apparently King Rama (don’t ask me which number) had a bunch of porcelain dishware imported from China and since bubble wrap hadn’t been invented yet, much of it broke. The king, in what must have been the first ever green initiative, decided to have a temple constructed and decorated with the shattered bits. Eat your heart out Al Gore.
It was very cool to see the designs up close, but also interesting to learn that the temple was about 120 years old. Initially I thought it would be much more ancient. It made the temple no less ornate, however, and the gradient of the steps made for a heart-pounding climb for more reasons than one!
This would be one of many times that Mary and I are happy we’re on our travels now. When we retire knees and ankles would fare no better than the porcelain shipped from China on climbs like this!
We moved on to Wat Pho where the reclining Buddah…reclines. He is truly massive! Covered in some ridiculous amount of gold leaf made from real gold, it was enough to make an old prospector bang his pots and pans with excitement! Not to mention the feet inlaid with mother of pearl.
Mostly I was taking pictures during this part of the tour so I wasn’t paying very close attention to the guide. The whole lot is very impressive and it was also interesting to see Buddhists paying their respects in traditional fashion. This involves kneeling with legs together and feet pointing away from the Buddah shrine, and then bowing from the waist to the floor.
I am convinced that if Americans had to do this activity it would put a large percentage of the larger ones in the hospital – it is no small flexible feat (it does however require flexible feet).
After Wat Pho we moved on to the final site which was a more modern temple constructed of marble rather than stone – keeping the temple much more cool in the heat and humidity of Thailand. Again a Buddah shrine was contained therein.
The temples offer a great opportunity to get away from the hustle of Bangkok and reflect on a very peaceful religion while taking in some beautifully ornate detail and history at the same time.
Once our tour was over we headed back to the hotel and, due to traffic it took a while. Late for the dinner we had schedule with Mark, his wife Boon, their son, and his wife’s mom, Mary and I arrived hungry.
They took us to a traditional Thai restaurant where Boon’s mom practically force fed us some delicious delicacies until we nearly popped! I’d blame Thailand’s very friendly and caring attitude towards visitors for my expanded belly, but I’d be lying if I told you I tried my hardest to refuse the second helpings.
Next on the agenda, the Chatuchak weekend market!