Temples and more temples..
29.12.2019 30 °C
I will apologize in advance as this post is a very “picture heavy” ....there was so much to see and do!!
Arriving at Suvarnabhumi (the international and newest airport) we had a surprise at immigration. While you are in front of the immigration officer your picture is taken, then you must place all four fingers (each hand separately) on a glass plate to have your finger prints scanned, followed by both thumbs....quite the process! While on the “ID’ topic...when Andy went into a 711 (they are everywhere here) to purchase a SIM card, he had to have his picture taken and a picture of his passport....too strange.
Just a little tidbit of info I thought I’d share.....Bangkok means City of Angels and the actual city name is the longest in the world... it is “ Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit“....quite the mouthful!
We started out our first day in Bangkok with an enormous walk from our guest-house in the old town area all the way to Chinatown and the Golden Buddha. Maybe easier to start at the end of our walk with Wat Traimit, home to the Golden Buddha. A little history lesson here.... The Golden Buddha, is a gold Maravijaya Attitude seated Buddharupa statue, with a weight of 5.5 tonnes (5,500 kilograms). It is located in the temple of Wat Traimit and at one point in its history the statue was covered with a layer of stucco and coloured glass to conceal its true value. It remained in this condition for almost 200 years, ending up as what was then a pagoda of minor significance. During relocation of the statue in 1955, the plaster was chipped off and the gold revealed....how cool is that! There are rules about visiting the temples in Bangkok...legs and shoulders must be covered. You can buy Thai pants everywhere or rent from kiosks.
The famous Golden Buddha
To get to the temple and the Buddha we hoped on a water taxi from our lovely waterfront lunch spot.
Boats of all shapes and sizes ply the river with the infamous “long tail” boats being the most numerous. These boats are similar to the ones we saw in Vietnam and Cambodia, long and skinny with crazy poles extended out the back with a propeller on the end and a huge motor attached to the boat....they go like spit!
We spent a good portion of the day dodging tour groups by the Grand Palace...I read not to go on weekends as it is busy, but this was nuts...hopefully things are less crowded during the week. We did come across the National Museum and Wang Na Palace, and what a find it was. We probably spent 3 hours roaming the grounds and buildings. The exhibits are outstanding and everyone who comes to Bangkok should go. It just so happened that entrance was free for the next week to celebrate the upcoming New Year...bonus!
I couldn’t pick just a few shots as everything was so beautiful...from buildings to war elephants...from gilded chairs to cremation pyres, porcelain and fabrics, unbelievable...so here are my favourites.
This last one is a miniature of a floating “bathing barge”. The barge would have had a square in the middle with steps leading down to the water. From these steps, the prince could enter the water to bath privately.
We also walked through an enormous Chinatown, lots of people, food everywhere and crowded sidewalks.
This coming year in the Chinese lunar calendar will be the year of the rat.
Durion fruit...I am going to try this stinky stuff before we leave.....just haven’t found the right time yet????
We started our next day out by visiting the Pra Sumen Fortress near our guest-house. It is located in a waterfront park and a good place to just relax and enjoy the view over the river. The fortress dates from the late 1700s, it was part of the fortifications of Bangkok when the capital was moved to Bangkok from Ayutthaya.
Above is the Bhumibol bridge (named after the king as all bridges in Thailand are) just near our guest-house and below is fish we spied drying in the back of a pick-up truck!
For our evening meal we walked over to the famous Khao San road...a pedestrian street that is lined with shops, bars, restaurants and food carts. The atmosphere is frantic and the food is inexpensive. We had a gigantic beer, a pork and basil dish plus a dish of morning glory (no, not the kind we see growing in North America) and some spring rolls...all for about $6 cad each.
A few shots from Khao San road.
A crazy bar van.
Above...when you just don’t care anymore...meh!
This area is a back-packers haven with hostels everywhere...we are about a 10-15 minute walk away which means we don’t hear all the noise.
After walking to work off our dinner a wee bit we returned to the cart that offered mango roti....I was almost drooling. See the vendor in action below and the finished product which was superb.
A happy camper!!
The following day started by hopping on a river taxi to head to our destination of Wat Arun. The skirmishes between long tail boats, tourist boats and the local water taxis can seem crazy but everything was in order!
There must have been 5 or 6 boats all aiming for the same pier!
We are trying to do one temple per day and Mondays target was Wat Arun. Again with a bit of history...Wat Arun or Temple of Dawn Is a Buddhist temple. The temple derives its name from the Hindu god Aruna, often personified as the radiations of the rising sun. Wat Arun is among the best known of Thailand's landmarks. The first light of the morning reflects off the surface of the temple with pearly iridescence. Although the temple has 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. The exterior is encrusted with colourful porcelain in intricate designs....absolutely amazing...see below.
Wat Arun seen from the river as we were docking
In this last photo, Buddhist monks are seen blessing people who have come to the temple.
After the temple we walked to the local (non tourist) market, Wang Lang...full of food , shoes, clothes and just about anything else!
Tiny little , crispy crepes filled with a marshmallow type meringue and something shredded...very sweet, glad we only bought one.
Along the way to the market we passed over one of the many canals that lead into the river. We had no idea that the canals were not at the same level as the river until we saw a long tailed boat heading into what looked like a “lock”....yes, like the ones on the Rideau Canal. We stood and watched as five more boats joined in and the lock door started to come down. Not sure how long it takes or if they are being lifted or dropped, but it was interesting to see canal locks in another country!
New Years eve day we decided to check out an enormous mall (the MBK Centre) that we had heard about. It is seven floors of food, clothing, shoes, souvenirs and a department store to boot! We started at the food stalls on the 6th floor and found that to start your “food journey” you had to go to a cashiers kiosk and get a plastic “food debit” card, which gets loaded with however much money you want. Then you choose food from the various stalls you want and they swipe your card....no cash needed. It works just like the Octopus card in Hong Kong, but just for food...a great idea! In the evening we strolled Khao San road and had a bite to eat...so many revellers and loud music.....an early night for us! At 10:00 pm we heard some fireworks but were asleep long before the main event!
While out and about we stopped at a vendor who sold durian. I have always thought it too stinky to even try, but this trip I decided it was time. Once you get past the “rotten fish” smell, it is actually quite fragrant and creamy, kind of like a firm custard, not at all what I expected. Will I eat it again? We’ll have to see, I have a texture “thing” with food and it was like eating bananas that were over ripe...just not a texture for me. However, I have been told that there are many different varieties of durian and perhaps I will have to try it another time...I heard durian ice cream is delicious...
Oh, and we did run across some other strange food...a whole crocodile on a spit....didn’t try it!
On Jan 1, we took the river taxi to Chinatown and then walked for about 40 minutes to a place that is supposed to serve the best pig knuckles in Bangkok as Andy was keen to try them....sad to say, they were closed????
The Chinatown Gate
Strolling about before dinner we happened to see one of the large canal boats (Bangkok has been referred to as the Venice of the east) making a turn in the canal. We often refer to three-point turns...well, he maneuvered this boat so carefully in what might have been a nine-point turn...but never touched either end to the canal wall!
Off he goes...
In the evening we walked to a nearby restaurant, I had found on line, called Madame Musur. Apparently the owner had worked for big hotel chains for years and decided to open her own restaurant. She filled it with teak furniture and wonderful artwork from around Thailand giving it a very nice vibe. We had a delicious meal, including cocktails....you know, to celebrate the new year in style!
A kitty still sleeping off the New Year celebrations!
We wandered back to our guesthouse, stopping for a coffee for Andy at our favorite coffee shop...a Thai chain called Amazon Coffee. They are giving Starbucks a run for their money and I love their philosophy. This evening we were served by a deaf barista ...they had a sign indicating this and also instructions on how you could order coffee by signing....perfect!
We are just about finishing up our week in Bangkok, our friends (KO and Minh) arrive late tonight and we will spend the day with them before flying to Krabi down the coast on Saturday. We did one more temple run this morning to Wat Pho, a large Buddhist temple.
The temple complex houses the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand, including a long reclining Buddha...I think you would need a wide angle lens to capture a good shot, it is enormous! It was pretty packed with people but we did manage to get blessed by monks “flicking” water on us with a bamboo whisk type thing.
Grumpy looking guy...temple kitty...
Below is the reclining Buddha’s head, the eyes are open and inlaid with mother of pearl. It is said that the image is of Buddha when he obtained enlightenment under the Bhodi tree in India..in fact there is a Bhodi tree right outside the structure that is supposed to be grown from a cutting from that very tree.
The bottom of the Buddha’s feet are also inlaid with an intricate pattern of mother of pearl.
The figure is 15 m high and 46 m long, and it is one of the largest Buddha statues in Thailand.
We also got to eat at the famous Krua Apsorn restaurant for lunch, what a delight. “Auntie Dang”, the creator of the menu, has passed the recipes on to her children and this family restaurant is so famous and beloved they have even been invited to cook food for members of the Thai Royal family. Their crab omelette is considered to be the best in Bangkok, even better than Michelin star winner Jay Fai! These omelettes are not typical, they are round, puffy and filled with crab meat...may I have one every day please???
On the way to the temple this am we walked through the flower market where we saw garlands being constructed for various ceremonies.
Well Bangkok, it’s been a slice, but it is time to leave the big , noisy city and head south the the Krabi/Au Nang area...but, before head off we spent our last day here with friends from Ottawa, KO and Minh...who were in Bangkok for a few days. We took them to see Wat Arun, around Wang Lang market, and relaxed with a Singha while watching the multitude of boats go by. A trip to Khao San road , some dinner and everyone was pooped...time for bed. Below are the last shots from Bangkok.
The boys at Wat Arun
A very tired dog...too hot to even sit up and say hi!
This young lady looked to be about 8 or 9 and played 70-80’s rock and roll really well. I have a short video, but unfortunately it won’t load...I will keep trying.
Next post from our Airbnb near Au Nang!!