Bangkok on a rainy day, be aware of wily strangers!
Bangkok Travel Blog› entry 22 of 24 › view all entries
October 10th, 2007 – by: portia
It's good that I read several tips here on travbuddy about the way people would approach us (obviously looking non-local) and try to be helpful, oh, the Grand Palace is not open until 1pm, but we can take you to such and such a place now, etc.
At the entrance to the Grand Palace, the guard told me that I could not get in the temple with my capri pants (it was hot in Bangkok!), but they prepared for such with free skirt rental, you pay a deposit of 100 bhats (it was not necessary to leave your passport of any documents), and they give you a wraparound skirt, so now I could hardly take a big step! Pants or skirts are ok, but no shorts or capri pants.
Anyway, since it was raining, we bought the ticket to see the museums in addition to the palace grounds and the emerald buddha. That was a good decision. The museum of coins had more than coins, it had swords (very fany ones with all kinds of jewels), clothing of the royals, and most interestingly, the display of 3 dresses for the emerald buddha. At any one time, there would only be 2, because the 3rd one would be worn by the emerald buddha. He has a rainy season outfit, a hot seaon outfit and a cold seaon outfit. The changing of his clothing (which is not made of cloths, but gold and precious stones) is an important occasion which is presided by the king! So you get to see his dress up close in the museum, very cool.
It was still raining after we got out of the museum, but we made our way to the Emerald Buddha temple (the Wat Phra Kaew). This is the most sacred and important temple in Thailand. People took off their shoes, went in and sat down on the marble floor, then quietly look around and just enjoyed the ambience. It was very peaceful and enjoyable. Photos are not permitted inside, so people can just sit around and look, and pray if you are a buddhist. The emerald buddha sits high in his rainy season outfit. There were 4 tall standing gold buddhas around him, and many other smaller statues. On the walls of the temple were murals depicting the story of the buddha. We probably sat there for 20 minutes before leaving.
We walked around the terraced platforms housing a huge golden stupa Phra Si Ratana Chedi, the 16 columned Phra Mondop and the Royal Pantheon (closed except on April 6th).
Then we exited the Emerald Buddha Temple complex area and visited the Grand Palace area. This was not only the palace for the kings but also housed the administration buildings housing the war ministry, the state department and even the mint. The current king of Thailand however is not living here, but has another palace elsewhere in Bangkok. The Grand Palace is still used for ceremonial purposes. The inner court where the king's consort and family lived occupied an area just as big as the area now open to the public, but is not open to the public, even though they no longer live there.
The central court of the Grand palace had 3 groups of buildings. The group of buildings near the eastern edge of the central court were built to be the main residence and audience hall for the king.
The second group of buildings is dominated by the large semi western looking hall with a definitely Thai styled roof. This building, the Chakri Maha Prasat hall was commissioned by King Rama V in late 19th century. The bottom of this building housed the royal guards and had exhibits of ancient weapons in its arcades along the front of the building, which the public can view. I was not so interested in the ancient weapons though.
The 3rd group of buildings has another throne hall, and a garden. However, it seemed to be closed.
We left the Grand Palace, returned my loaner skirt and found a small cafe to have a nice cold drink and snack.
There was a lot of constructions/restorations going on there, and we wandered in and out of closed or maybe not so closed temples sort of aimlessly before deciding to head back to the hotel by river taxi.
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