Wats and Palaces and the Bangkok Tourist Trail

Bangkok Travel Blog

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Bangkok is sometimes called The Venice of the East. Most of the Canals have been paved over but there are still quite a few among the streets of the city.

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.

Wat Pho -Reclining Buddha
  I made one side trip to Wat Suthat that was along the road I was walking.  It was impressive but just a warmup to the highlights that were to follow.  It was amusing to see the large tourist groups that were walking around and being herded through the Wat at an incredible pace.  I was happy to be able to see things at my own leisure and speed instead.

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 Phra Kaew
  I listened for a bit and then said I was going to walk on for a bit.  Instead of heading for the Palace first, I ventured south for Wat Pho.  Again I was accosted by the touts on the back side of the temple.  Saved a couple of girls from getting into a tik-tik and we walked around and found the entrance and low and behold it wasn't closed (surprise, surprise).

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
  I also found another stall selling fresh strawberries that was a great desert.  All for under $2 including a drink (30 Baht for rice and chicken 15 Baht for drink, 20 Baht for strawberries.

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.

Smiling Hermit - Wat Phra Kaew
  It took a while to make it through these locations and the crowds were becoming quite large.  From here it was across the Chao Phraya River by boat (3 Baht) to see Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn).  Slightly different, Wat Arun is an older temple more in the Khmer style than the other Wats seen earlier.  But in its own way the architecture may have been more stunning.  And this Wat we could climb up part way (the size of the steps were similar to those at Wat Than Suea in Krabi just not nearly as many) and get a unique view of the environs of Bangkok.

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.

Wat Arun from the Chao Phraya River
  When I got off I had a short walk to the SkyTrain station which I took back past the MBK Shopping Center that I visited yesterday and from there I had a short walk (about 400m) to my hostel.

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.

kelleeoo says:
It sounds as if your adventure has been an interesting one so far. Life is grand,isn't it?!
Posted on: Mar 20, 2009
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Bangkok is sometimes called The Ve…
Bangkok is sometimes called The V…
Wat Pho -Reclining Buddha
Wat Pho -Reclining Buddha
Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew
Smiling Hermit - Wat Phra Kaew
Smiling Hermit - Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Arun from the Chao Phraya River
Wat Arun from the Chao Phraya River
Hualamphong Train Station
Hualamphong Train Station
Rows of smaller Buddha statues at …
Rows of smaller Buddha statues at…
Buddha statue at Wat Suthat
Buddha statue at Wat Suthat
Laughing man at Wat Suthat.
Laughing man at Wat Suthat.
Wat Suthat Map
Wat Suthat Map
Giant Swing at Wat Suthat
Giant Swing at Wat Suthat
Wat Phra Kaew from outside the wal…
Wat Phra Kaew from outside the wa…
Outside Wat Pho
Outside Wat Pho
Wat Pho
Wat Pho
Wat Pho Map
Wat Pho Map
A statue at Wat Pho.
A statue at Wat Pho.
Wat Pho - Temple
Wat Pho - Temple
Wat Pho - Reclining Buddha
Wat Pho - Reclining Buddha
Wat Pho - Reclining Buddha
Wat Pho - Reclining Buddha
Wat Pho - Wall Murals
Wat Pho - Wall Murals
Wat Pho - Reclining Buddhas Feet
Wat Pho - Reclining Buddhas Feet
Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew - Murals
Wat Phra Kaew - Murals
Wat Phra Kaew - Murals
Wat Phra Kaew - Murals
Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew
Part of the Grand Palace
Part of the Grand Palace
A little boy playing a xylophone t…
A little boy playing a xylophone …
Leaving the pier to cross the Chao…
Leaving the pier to cross the Cha…
Statuary
Statuary
Statue at Wat Arun.
Statue at Wat Arun.
View of Bangkok to the East from W…
View of Bangkok to the East from …
View of Bangkok to the West from W…
View of Bangkok to the West from …
View of Bangkok to the South from …
View of Bangkok to the South from…
View of Bangkok to the north (gene…
View of Bangkok to the north (gen…
Detailed look at one of the walls …
Detailed look at one of the walls…
Wat Arun
Wat Arun
Climbing the stairs on Wat Arun.
Climbing the stairs on Wat Arun.
Part of Wat Arun.
Part of Wat Arun.
Wat Arun.
Wat Arun.
Chao Phraya River Ferrry
Chao Phraya River Ferrry
Bangkok
photo by: Deats