Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Bangkok's Three Big Ones!

Bangkok has lots of fabulous things for tourists to see. Of course, Nick and I wanted to pack in as much as we could in our 3 days in the "City of Angels." So, for our big day of sight-seeing we chose the obvious attractions: The Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) and Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha), and I have to say, they did not disappoint!

The first temple we visited was Wat Pho (วัดโพธิ์) - to see the 46-metre-long, 15-metre-high reclining Buddha:

it was quite an impressive site!

The backs of the Buddha's feet were inlaid with mother of pearl - I especially like the Buddha's toes... so cute and chubby!

It was a bit crowded the day we visited,

so we didn't get to hang out with the Buddha too long, but the architecture outside was fantastic as well.

The Thai style is really different from what we saw in Indonesia and Taiwan. Like Taiwan, the temples are very intricate and detailed, but unlike Taiwan or Indonesia, the Thai temples are made with lots of ceramic tiles and tall spires.

They also use lots of shiny gold and other reflective materials - very sparkly and enticing!

In addition to Thai-style statues, the temples often incorporate Chinese-style statues as well (like the guys guarding this entry-way)

And while the Buddhas in Taiwan were always fat and jolly

In Thailand, they are thin and stoic with curly-Q's on their heads and elongated earlobes:

Once we finished checking out the Reclining Buddha, we headed over to the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

The Grand Palace (พระบรมมหาราชวัง) was the residence of the Thai monarch from the 18th century on, although the current King is living in another palace. This one is still used for special ceremonies.

My favorite things that we saw at the palace were the thrones that the King sits on when he's visiting this palace. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take pictures of them and I can't find any pictures of the ones I saw online, but they kind of looked like this:

(photo source here)

They were pretty cool and even gave off a royal vibe or something; I could almost imagine what it would be like to be in the presence of a King while I was standing in front of them.

But on the other hand.... I couldn't help thinking "isn't it a bit silly to have someone sitting on such a ridiculously ornate (and uncomfortable) thing like that in this day and age?" BUT maybe this is just coming from a silly American who has trouble with the idea of semi-deity Kings and Queens. (Obama being the exception, hehe)

After checking out a changing of the guard we headed off to the other site within the Palace walls, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew- วัดพระแก้ว), and all I have to say is "WOW!"

The complex was massive and I don't think I've ever felt so inspired by a temple - it was absolutely beautiful.

The structures surrounding and housing the emerald Buddha were so ornate, elaborate, and huge that I was really surprised by how small the Emerald Buddha actually was (maybe only a couple feet high)

(we weren't allowed to take a picture inside the temple, so I had to take this from outside)

One of my favorite things about the Emerald Buddha (made from Jade) is that he has 3 different outfits - depending on the weather! The Buddha changes clothes three times a year and right now he's wearing his winter, cold-weather clothes (although it was still about 95 degrees when we visited him!).

All-in-all, I'd say these three places are DEFINITELY worth checking out if you go to Bangkok - they were magnificent.

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