Wats and Palaces and the Bangkok Tourist Trail
Bangkok Travel Blog› entry 38 of 136 › view all entries
So I woke relatively early, headed down to reception to get breakfast and then head out on the tourist trail to see the main sights of Bangkok. What I had read said that this should include Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and Wat Arun. Once again I decided to hike it out to old Bangkok from my lodging instead of taking a tuk-tuk or taxi. It was only about 2 km or so and it wasn't that hot yet in the morning.
Bangkok was much busier this morning being a Monday and the work week. And it was definitely shrouded in haze. But all in all I didn't find it that bad. The walk was pretty quick.
I was soon heading down the road to Wat Phra Kaew and before I reached the end of the road where it dead-ended into the Palace walls I ran into my first tout. These guys are really annoying. Picking out solos or small groups they casually inform you that there is a holiday today and that the Palace is not open until 1 PM. Then they tell you of some other sights to see and that they have a friend who is a tuk-tuk driver that can take you there cheap.
Wat Pho has an impressive reclining Buddha as its main highlight but the rest of the grounds are superb as well. The Buddha measures approximately 15m high by 45m long and fits into a gilded and mosaic filled building. An impressive sight indeed. I spent about an hour in Wat Pho and then headed for the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. Before arriving I hit a market stall for some lunch.
Wat Phra Kaew was most impressive. The amount and style of architecture at the temples was simply stunning. The reverence the place holds for local Thais can be seen as well. That they tolerate the tourists in these holy sites is a grand gesture of the culture here in Thailand. I tried to my best to treat the site with the respect it deserved. Grand Palace less so (or at least what we were allowed to see of it). And between the two difficult to justify the 350 Baht entry fee. Especially when the other Wats were no more than 50 Baht.
After the wats I took the ferry back across the river. Instead of walking back to my lodging, I caught a different ferry down the river for a little ways.
One interesting fact of these sites for me at least is the difficulty of placing them in context. In Europe and even in South America so much is tied to history I have learned or can at least piece together from the bits and pieces that I know. Here the significance of these sites and the part they have played in the history of Thailand and SE Asia is simply beyond my comprehension at this point. Needless to say I can appreciate the sites for their austere beauty but also will hopefully spend a great deal of time delving into their history when I return home.
Hopefully I will have pictures soon. The network connection here right now is slower than shite and keeps crashing my flickr upload.