Happy Birthday Yer Maj

Bangkok Travel Blog

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See, I never even realised I was arriving in Thailand the day before the King's birthday. A fortituous coincidence. It's a big thing here. All those yellow polo-necks yesterday had the royal crest on the breast, and everybody was wearing them today. No generation gap either, no Generation X types too cool to honour the King.

Spent the day sightseeing with the guy I'd shared a room with last night. Covered a lot of ground and sweated my bollocks off. Fended off a thousand offers of three-hour free tuk-tuk tours of the city, of cheap suits from tailors, invites into jewellry shops. Bangkok touts can smell wet-behind-the-ears tourists from a mile and a half away.

We were aiming for the river and we had maps with us but still we managed to have not the faintest clue where we were going. The first 'sight' we stumbled across was a temple with a sixty-foot Buddha statue standing out there in the sun, a few people standing in front worshipping it. Still retains a special place in my heart. Stop sniggering at the back.

We saw the Golden Buddha - does what it says on the tin, a five-and-a-half tonne statue made of solid gold, sitting there in a dark room gleaming. He's pretty cool. As we left that temple - Wat Traimit - a huge great coach pulled up outside and six thousand German women wearing white socks with their sandals piled off. Bullet dodged.

We saw Wat Pho, with its enormous  reclining Buddha. The Buddha, we are informed, reclined on his right side for one hour a night for the entire forty years he spent teaching. He must have drunk a lot of coffee the rest of the time.

We saw the Royal Palace. Which was packed - packed - with people, all sitting on the floor waiting for His Majesty to make an appearence. And then we got stuck in a market with railings all around it, and couldn't get out.

And we saw the King. Twice: as we walked down the street, his motorcade came past to a muted cheer from the crowds. Twenty-four years in england I'd never seen the Queen; thirty-six hours in Bangkok and I'd seen the King twice.
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photo by: Deats