What wat is wat?
Bangkok Travel Blog› entry 4 of 42 › view all entries
We decided to stay in Bangkok for 3 more days as we couldn't get a cheap flight to Hong Kong for another 2 weeks and there are still things we wanted to see. It has really taken this last week just to get a bit more used to it. It's very hard to describe and the photos cannot convey the intense heat, humidity, smell and sounds of Bangkok. It is so busy and we have had to get used to being quite forceful when touts and drivers grab your arm and try to get you to go with them.
Where we are staying is quite a walk from some of the places we wanted to see so we decided to try out the river taxi.
Near where the boat stopped is the Golden Mount, a manmade mount with a giant golden pagoda on the top. Inside are many old Buddhist relics, statues of the Buddha himself and flowers and dragons. The main reason for us going up was for the roof which you could walk out onto with the giant pagoda on it, looking out over the city. It was a very strange view, a mix of shacks down towards the canals, with beautiful, ornate temple roofs interspersed. We couldn't help but wonder about how the money is distributed if many people are not living in houses, but the temples are all covered with gold. The Golden Mount is housed in the grounds of Wat Saket, a large temple encircled by Buddhas. The temple is very ornate, and we sat outside in the grounds for ages enjoying the quiet tranquility.
Just across from the Golden Mount is Loha Prasat or the Metal Castle, whose spires are made entirely of metal. This is the only castle of it's type in the world. As we approached we saw that we had arrived at the same time as over 100 school children so spent a little time outside waiting for it to be quieter. We have noticed in Bangkok that there are hundreds of stray cats and dogs, largely ignored by everyone. A couple of times cats have come up to us while we have been eating and it has been very hard not to stroke them, they have this way of looking at you! We haven't had rabies jabs so even being licked could be problematic, but it is difficult. Outside the Loha Prasat were about 15 cats/kittens of different sizes and in various states of disrepair. The people running the food stand outside were putting down huge bowls of rice for them to eat which I suppose is why they were congregating there.
The top of the castle gave good views again across the city, the black spires contrasting against the colourful roofs of the temples surrounding it. As we left the area and went back outside we met another English girl which was very nice! It was such a relief to talk to someone else who understood, as we haven't seen that many other English people around.
On Saturday we went to Chatuchak Market, the biggest market in Bangkok. I have honestly have never seen a market like it in my life, we walked for over 4 hours and didn't see it all. The most distressing part of the market was the animal section where baby rabbits, kittens and puppies were sold in terrible circumstances. Some stalls were not so bad, with fans and water bottles, but some had such young animals that their eyes were still closed and they couldn't walk, it was terrible. We had to turn a blind eye in the end, there really was nothing we could do. The market was so huge however that there was something for everyone. We bought a few souveniers and enjoyed the majority of the stalls with art, crafts, clothes, flowers, silks, so many things!
Again we found some English speakers and had a few (too many) beers with them.
One day left and we still hadn't gone to the 2 main temples. We started off at the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, otherwise known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. I had thought that I was quite conservatively dressed with ¾ length trousers and a white shirt, but apparantly my trousers were still too short and I had to go to the 'dressing room' and borrow one of their many sarongs. Luckily they weren't too bad, some people had to borrow trousers and shirts which were very odd colours and shapes! Once we got through the gates we were completely taken aback by the spectacle.
Nearby Wat Pho is home to the 'reclining Buddha' or as every tuktuk driver called it 'big Buddha'. It houses an enormous buddha, 46m long and 15m high, reclining to illustrate his final enlightenment. It really was huge, quite a sight! The building it was housed in didn't have room for anything other than the Buddha but there was a normal temple next to it, the oldest and largest temple in Bangkok. Again the buildings were more ornate than anything I've ever seen, they are incredible.
So that was Bangkok. Absolutely the craziest, smelliest, hottest, most unforgiving place I have ever been.