Sunday, December 12, 2010

2010, Day 345 - Bangkok, Day One

We all awoke earlier than we would have liked but seeing as we were up and about we decided to indulge in the hotel breakfast buffet. It was better than we expected; lots of choices and eggs made to order for about ten dollars. Much more expensive than street food but given that it is an all-you-can-eat affair it means that we didn’t stop to eat again until after one o’clock and I wasn’t even that hungry.

But that is really putting the cart before the proverbial horse. When breakfast was finished we grabbed out stuff and headed out to explore the city. We probably made a mistake by going first to the Grand Palace, a tourist mecca with plenty of predatory “service operators” but Manuel is heading to Chiang Mai tonight and he wanted to see a little bit of Bangkok before he left.

First we wandered to Wat Po with the enormous reclining Buddha. I wasn’t expecting that the temple would be enclosed in a large walled compound but we entered through the main gate and somehow the oppressive heat of the street seemed to diminish. The Buddha itself it quite impressive, the temple that surrounds it barely contains the statue and the interior walls are painted with frescoes of battle scenes. As you enter you can hear the clinking of coined being dropped in brass bowls along the back of the statue and between the columns people stop to sit and pray.

The entrance to Wat Po and its guardians.

I'll be the first to admit that part of the reason I took this picture is because of the dog laying down on the other side of the door but it turned out rather well.

A hallway of Buddhas.

Just to give you a sense of the scale of Wat Po.

As I was going through today's pictures I kept having to fight the urge to make the colors less vibrant, not because the vibrant colors weren't accurate but because it is hard to believe how colorful everything is unless you see it in person.

Sections of the temple compound were under renovation. This is part of an enormous pile of debris around a bell tower of sorts.

The tremendous Reclining Buddha, the feet are covered in images of the Buddha created in mother of pearl.

People lining up to make their donations so that the Buddha might answer their prayers.

After Wat Po we decided to brave the Grand Palace. True to its name it was a sprawling complex of buildings. Unfortunately because it is such a draw for tourists it was quite crowded and, to my mind, less impressive than Wat Po.

A woman praying on the grounds of the Grand Palace.

The walls of the hallway are painted in scenes like the one above and when seen in person the gold makes the wall appear to glow.

An outside-in view of the temple of the Emerald Buddha. Photography is not permitted within the temple.

Sweaty and hungry we all decided it was time to find something to eat. When we arrived and initially fled the area around the Grand Palace we walked through a market teaming with vendors of all kinds of indescribable food. Feeling adventurous we returned.

This whole area caters to all of your dried squid needs.

This is where we ended up eating. Brad and Manuel had chicken-based food and I found a nice light vegetable curry.

I am sure there is more I could write about day one but it is getting light outside and I've had a reasonable, if not quite sufficient, amount of sleep so I think it is about time to tackle another day.

1 comment:

  1. the reclining buddha shot is awesome. very jealous.