Finally we see 'Big Buddha'

Bangkok Travel Blog

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The market

So, our first proper weekend here.

 

We had read about a weekend market in the guidebook called Chatuchak market, it is the largest market in Thailand with over 10,000 stalls. We  took the skytrain as it was right next to the end stop and disembarked with pretty much a full train load of people. Everyone was heading in the same direction so we figured it must be for the market so tagged along. Sure enough we soon came across the start of the market and was quickly immersed in the crazy labrinyth.

puppy anyone?
Row after row of stalls was jammed packed with everything you could imagine, from trinkets and jewellery to clothes and toys. It was very disorientating as there were more stalls being put up as we walked round. We wandered round to the edge and found ourselves passing shops selling fish tanks and numerous types of fish. The sad thing was most of the fish were already in plastic bags, some had more than thirty or forty fish in with the bag tied up and the price written in marker on the front. The bags numbered in the hundreds, each shop we passed (and we passed lots) had dozens of bags on the ground, quite possibly sitting there in the baking heat all day.

 

This was very sad but as we found to our horror it didnt end there. As we walked further into the market (we were lost and actually looking for a way out) we came across other animals being sold.

BIG Buddha!!
First we saw cats and dogs, with some kittens and puppies sitting in small cages. All were sparked out asleep because of the intense heat, with nothing but the cage bars to rest on. We also saw baby rabbits and guinea pigs, so small they could fit in your pocket and had stupid little outfits on to make them look 'cuter'. Thats just what a rabbit needs in 90 degree heat, an extra layer!?! Birds of every kind, some still hadnt got all of their flight feathers, opening their mouths expecting to be fed by their parents. The most distressing though was the chipmunks for sale; there were ones on top of the cages that you could pet, tied by a piece of string around their neck and so shell shocked by all the noise and confusion they were as still as statues. These ones were clearly adults, the ones you could actually buy were so young they hadnt even opened their eyes yet. It was so painful to see these defenceless animals, that should so clearly still be feeding from their mother, being subjected to such a cruel (and most likely very short) existance for just a few pence.
Rachel making friends

 

We found our way out as soon as possible as this made us very angry but knew we were powerless to do anything about it. The urge to rescue a puppy was almost overwelming. We moved back into the main part of the market, trying out our bargaining skills. We found puppies being sold in the main part too but here the conditions were better, there were large fans to keep the puppies cool (most of the puppies were actually play fighting and being responsive to those stroking them), we saw them being fed and watered, they had some sort of base to sleep on, and they were being rotated so that every so often they got put into a back cage away from the public. We still found this heart wrenching, and were a bit dubious as there were signs telling you not to let the puppy lick you (a sure sign the puppy has something wrong with it) and a few even said you were not allowed to stroke the puppies as any germs you had might make them ill (I take it vaccinations are unheard of here).

Boil in the bag

 

We spent a long time wandering around the market but saw only a fraction of it. The guidebook said you could come to the market every weekend for a year and still not see it all so I guess it would of been foolish of us to try.  That evening we met a couple of fellow travellers, two Canadians and a Swedish girl sitting outside our guesthouse. We spent a while chatting, glad to find more people to discuss travelling with. Nothing bonds people quicker than conversations about poo!

 

The next day was to be our last in Bangkok so thought we better visit the two temples Thailand is most famous for. First up was The Grand Palace which sits within the same grounds as Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha). We had bought our shirts especially for this occasion so felt suitably attired to enter. Obviously the staff felt differently as they said Rachels three quarter ength trousers were too short and packed us off to the office (with several hundred other people) to borrow a sarong. once we were finally ready, we walked down to the ticket office and bought our tickets. Upon entering the temple we were stunned by the sheer gaudiness of the place. Every building was covered in shiny, reflective, glitzy materials; making it glint and shimmer in the sun. It ws very impressive, but again I felt that the money it had obviously taken to build could have been better spent on those that are struggling to survive. The 'Emerald Buddha' itself is housed within Wat Phra Kaew so we went in to see what all the hype was about. inside the Wat there were many people, mostly Thais that had come to worship (they get in free) and scattered amongst them were other tourists, come to see one of the most revered icons in Thailand. To be honest it was a lot smaller than I thought (and made of Jade not Emeralds), set high up on top of a gold plinth and very very shiny. At the very front there was a section for the monks, who were being handed water by the security guards. The guards were there to make sure you didnt take ny photos, sat down quick enough, and didnt offend Buddha by sitting with your feet facing him.

 

In the afternoon we visited the second famous statue, and the one every tuk tuk in Bangk0k had be trying to get us to agree to go to, 'Big Buddha', housed within Wat Pho (the H in PH is silent). Now this was actuallyy impressive, Big Buddha is indeed BIG, filling the whole of the temple from end to end, 46 metres long in fact and about 15 metres high! The grounds also had the required flamboyant buildingd and many smaller gold Buddhas. I think I have been Buddha'ed out for now, maybe by the time we hit China I  will be ready to visit a few more, plus they have the jolly fat Buddha types! On Monday we are off to Ko Samet for a well earned beach break so wish us plenty of sun!

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The market
The market
puppy anyone?
puppy anyone?
BIG Buddha!!
BIG Buddha!!
Rachel making friends
Rachel making friends
Boil in the bag
Boil in the bag
Bangkok
photo by: Deats