Bangkok on a rainy day, be aware of wily strangers!

Bangkok Travel Blog

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the Emerald Buddha's temple was under renovation (but still open)
After a fine breakfast buffet at the hotel, we ventured out to the river taxii (really a scheduled bus on the water) a few minutes from the hotel. We were told they would try to steer us to the "tourist" boat, so we looked around to make sure the line we were in had a lot of locals. The river taxis go up and down the river, and they were very convenient and fast. Since they totally avoided the traffic on the street and grand palace was very close to the river. While on the boat, it started to rain. So by the time we got off at the royal palace stop, it was still raining. I had the only umbrella in the group, but it wasn't raining that hard, so we just walked over to the palace anyway.

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.
typical Thai roof at the palace
So we ignored them, and headed to the entrance anyway. Sure enough it was open just fine. A big sign next to the entrance said "Be aware of wily strangers!" and there were a lot of wily strangers for sure. They would tell us the emerald buddha temple was closed, or the reclining buddha temple was not open til 3pm. It's pretty amazing how they just appeared to be helpful, but really trying to swindle you blind. You have to learn to just complete ignore them, even if it may seem rude to you. Just don't talk to any "wily" strangers, don't respond to anyone approaching you saying "hello" or "execuse me".

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.
a huge golden stupa at the palace
It's funny that the criteria is not how much skin you are showing, since some wearing short skirts are showing a lot more legs.

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.
huge guardians at the palace


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).
lions at the back side of the temple of the emerald buddha
The golden stupa was made from gold mirrored tiles, not just gilded, so it was very bright and shiny. It's supposed to house a piece of the buddha's breastbone. The Phra Mondop is covered in green mirrored tiles inlaid with gold medallions depicting Buddha. It is a copy of another mondop in the Saraburi province of Thailand which is supposed to cover the buddha's footprint.  It's very green and gold and beautiful. Also on the platform is the Royal Pantheon of the Chakri Dynasty. Inside are exact life sized statues of each of the kings of the Chakri Dynasty. The Royal Pantheon is open only one day (April 6) a year to the public. Outside the Royal Pantheon are two gilded chedi's supported by colorful demons, the chedis were originally built by King Rama I to honor his parents, one chedi for his father, the other for his mother.
close-up of the lion


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.
gurudas guarding the wall of the emerald buddha temple
We saw the audience hall, a Chinese themed courtyard, a pavilion where monks would bless the water to be sprinkled on people and objects, another pavilion which was used for the king's purification bath.

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.
gurudas guarding the wall of the emerald buddha temple, turning the corner
Afterwards, we set out for Wat Pho, the temple where the huge reclining buddha was housed. We saw more "wily strangers" telling us the Wat Pho was closed! We ignored them and found the entrance to be open, of course. The reclining buddha was very large indeed, and his head barely fit in the temple. I wondered how they put him in there in the first place. We wandered the grounds of Wat Pho for a while, it was also very large, had many stupas (chedis) four of the largest housing the ashes of King Ramas I, II III and IV.

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.
a window of the emerald buddha temple


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the Emerald Buddhas temple was un…
the Emerald Buddha's temple was u…
typical Thai roof at the palace
typical Thai roof at the palace
a huge golden stupa at the palace
a huge golden stupa at the palace
huge guardians at the palace
huge guardians at the palace
lions at the back side of the temp…
lions at the back side of the tem…
close-up of the lion
close-up of the lion
gurudas guarding the wall of the e…
gurudas guarding the wall of the …
gurudas guarding the wall of the e…
gurudas guarding the wall of the …
a window of the emerald buddha tem…
a window of the emerald buddha te…
The Phra Mondop, covered with gree…
The Phra Mondop, covered with gre…
a nice elephant getting rained on
a nice elephant getting rained on
guards and snakes at entry to the …
guards and snakes at entry to the…
The green tiles inlaid with gilded…
The green tiles inlaid with gilde…
huge guardians at the palace
huge guardians at the palace
carved decoration for a roof
carved decoration for a roof
kevin and the elepahants in front …
kevin and the elepahants in front…
a corner of the golden stupa showi…
a corner of the golden stupa show…
another view of the golden stupa
another view of the golden stupa
the golden stupa at the palace
the golden stupa at the palace
Statues outside the Phra Mondop
Statues outside the Phra Mondop
One of the 9th century Javanese bu…
One of the 9th century Javanese b…
brightly colored demon statues hol…
brightly colored demon statues ho…
a graceful mythical statue with a …
a graceful mythical statue with a…
statue in front of the The Royal P…
statue in front of the The Royal …
a different kind of stupa at the p…
a different kind of stupa at the …
bottom of the gilded chedi, there …
bottom of the gilded chedi, there…
almost the entire chedi fit in thi…
almost the entire chedi fit in th…
mural painting of a monkey
mural painting of a monkey
a area of the palace where these b…
a area of the palace where these …
hall of long murals on the left
hall of long murals on the left
view of Chakri Maha Prasat hall fr…
view of Chakri Maha Prasat hall f…
a door at the audience hall of at …
a door at the audience hall of at…
a statue at a door, they had lots …
a statue at a door, they had lots…
lions at a gate in the Chinese cou…
lions at a gate in the Chinese co…
gardeners and topiary in front of …
gardeners and topiary in front of…
Dusit Maha Prasat throne hall
Dusit Maha Prasat throne hall
close-up of roof with a statue in …
close-up of roof with a statue in…
royal guard at grand stairway to t…
royal guard at grand stairway to …
a tuk-tuk in Bangkok
a tuk-tuk in Bangkok
So we know where we were! Wat Pho.
So we know where we were! Wat Pho.
head of the reclining buddha
head of the reclining buddha
the very large reclining buddha
the very large reclining buddha
the reclining buddhas feet were c…
the reclining buddha's feet were …
head of the reclining buddha, inte…
head of the reclining buddha, int…
a cute scene on a mural in the tem…
a cute scene on a mural in the te…
at the reclining buddha temple
at the reclining buddha temple
Chedis (stupas) at the reclining b…
Chedis (stupas) at the reclining …
scene at the Wat Pho
scene at the Wat Pho
things on sale on the street
things on sale on the street
fish for sale on the street
fish for sale on the street
street vendor display
street vendor display
temple of dawn (Wat Arun) from the…
temple of dawn (Wat Arun) from th…
view of city lights at night from …
view of city lights at night from…
Bangkok
photo by: Deats