Thailand Travel Blog› entry 2 of 2 › view all entries
Even at this late hour, our tour guide "Jimmy" was their to greet us. He was extremely friendly and full of smiles. We had tacked on an extra day of travel that was originally not included in the tour but Jimmy gladly offered to begin a day early and spread out our travels over a more leisurely pace. We agreed to meet him around 11:00am. So at least we were able to get a little bit of sleep.
* Some history: Bangkok has been the capital city of Thailand since 1782. This year is King Ramad IX's 80th birthday.
Thailand used to be called Siam. In 1939, the name was changed and it means "land of freedom". The country is about 700 years old and the first King created the Thai language by pulling from neighboring languages. It is the only country in Asia not to be captured by a Western country.
1st stop - Golden Buddha Temple
We had to drive through Thailand's oven Chinatown. Seems like there's one in every country!
Before entering the temple, you must remove your shoes and leave them outside. This temple contains the largest Golden Buddha in the world -- 5 1/2 tons of solid gold. It was found covered in cement. They are not sure who made this Buddha but they believe it was covered in cement to protect it from thieves. A small piece of the cement that was used to cover the Buddha resides in a glass case on the wall. Out of respect, I left 20 Bhat as an offering.
Bagkok actually means "City of Angels". Bangkok's real name is almost a page long -- it is the longest name of a city in the world (Guinness Book of Records). We were quite impressed that Jimmy our guide could recite the entire name from memory.
2nd Stop - Royal Palace and Emerald Buddha
Absolutely Amazing!Very exspansive courtyards with many buildings -- all exquisitely ornate. Before we passed through the gates we had to don our shirts with sleeves -- no spaghetti straps or sleeveless shirts allowed. And since it was around 92 degrees (F) and very sunny, we were just a bit hot. :)
Every building glittered with real gold, mother-of-pearl, in-laid colored glass in many, many intricate patterns, painted wood, and painted china.
We entered the temple after removing our shoes once again. the Emerald Buddha is not as large as many of the other Buddha's. Also, it is acutally carved from a piece of Jade - "emerald" only refers to its color. The Buddha sits on a golden throne, which is raised up by several bases. Mural paitings ocver the walls and ceilings and depict numreous scenes of the life/lives of Buddha. Once we came out there was a basin of holy water. You dipped a large flower in the water and then sprinkled it on your head. Because it was so hot, the water felt really good as well.
(to be continued)