Day 2: Of closed off temples and a rainy afternoon... sigh....
Bangkok Travel Blog› entry 2 of 4 › view all entries
Thursday morning, our first full day in Bangkok. Joann and I were up at 9am and ready to take on the temples! But first, we got ready and made our way downstairs for breakfast, and were crestfallen to see that it was raining!! Praying for better weather, we went ahead and ordered the American breakfast that consisted of two slices of toast with two eggs overeasy, and jam and butter on the side, plus slices of tomato and the teeniest sausage I have ever seen!
We discussed our plan then - to cover the Grand Palace plus the temples of the Emerald Buddha and Reclining Buddha during the day, and in the evening, we'll take a taxi to Sukhumvit to check out the club scene there, which included a couple of gogo bars!
It was still raining by the time breakfast was done, but we decided to brave the rain and walked out to the first "wat" or temple, which was a minute away from the hotel.
I was intrigued by what I now know is called the Golden Mount, which was larger than life, when I stared out of the balcony on the 5th floor of our hotel. But just before we accidentally disrespected the vicinity of the Golden Mount (which I will go into detail later), we headed into the main temple area, with gilded window frames that were gleaming, in the cloudy weather. I got my camera out to start taking pictures, after checking and resetting all settings to make sure that it wasn't underexposed, and started shooting.
Not to be defeated, I decided to just enter the temple, jeans unfolded and barefeet. What a beautiful sight to behold! The statue of Buddha was seated in a serene position, with what looked like a larger statue of Buddha again right behind the first one. In front of the statues, we noticed what looked like the statues of three, probably very prominent monks who were significant to Wat Bowon. At the time I wrote this blog, I found out that one of what I thought were three prominent monks, was actually the Thai King!
After spending some time here, I tried my camera again, and it didn't seem to have any trouble taking indoor shots, which I was so grateful for!
I wanted to stay there longer, it's amazing what places in worship - no matter the religion - have in common is the peace one feels when one is inside the temple/church/mosque.
As we walked on opposite directions opposite the stupa, I met Joann who advised me that we should get down and fast! It wasn't a place we should have been exploring, especially not with shoes on!! So we make our way down as quickly and respectfully as possible and after more pictures, decide to head out to the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, which houses the Emerald Buddha.
By this time, I was wet with the rain, and sweaty, and to top it off, my knee was acting up again, and the last thing I wanted to do was to walk to the Grand Palace, without knowing which way we were supposed to head to! Referring to the map we had in our possession, Joann and I knew how far we were from our next destination and decided to play it safe by getting a tuk tuk instead.
At the entrance, we were approached by a tout, who informed us that the palace was closed due to a royal ceremony that was to be held later that afternoon. GREAT! There was no way to have known that this was going to happen, and we thought we could enter the temple instead (which shared the grounds with the palace), but it was closed as well and would only be opened after 2pm.
So we walk... a full ten minutes after passing the Thammasit University, we arrive at the museum and pay BHT200 to enter. Receiving our guide booklets and map, I was shocked to find 22 buildings that made up the museum!! This was going to take ages, I thought to myself, but decided to suck it up and start the tour. By the 8 exhibit hall, I was spent and was so relieved to see one of four gardens in the vicinity of the museum with park benches, and happily parked my behind while trying to figure out if I could go on.
And neither was Joann, because ten minutes later, she meets me and we head make our way to the National Gallery, which we found out was across the highway and had to take a long walk across to traffic light junctions to get to the other side. By the time we get to the National Gallery, I just didn't want to move! But I didn't want to be a party pooper either, so again we pay BHT200 to enter the gallery, and I leave Joann to explore the gallery while I take a long breather at the lobby and only start walking around 15 minutes.
We decided to head back to our hotel for a little siesta, but not before checking out the shops on our way back to get some souvenirs. With tummies growling, we make our purchase of table lamps and tee shirts and head inside a Subway Restaurant that was behind us, facing the souvenir stall! Having our fill of a BMT for Joann and a roast beef sandwich for me, I make my way back to the hotel room while Joann stays behind for more shopping.
I couldn't get to the room quick enough, where I tore off my sweaty and rain-soaked clothes and jumped in the shower, risking a scalding with the heater turned up and the shower on my knee to ward off the pain.
Joann then returns after an hour and we make plans for dinner, wondering if we should head out to Silom or Sukhumvit to check out the night life. We also plan to check out the tour office on the ground floor of the hotel and find out if there were tours that we could take to make our visit to BAngkok worthwhile.
At 7.30 local time, we're dressed and head first to the tourist office, where we purchased tours for the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Arun (the temple across the ChaoPhraya river), and Wat Pho, the temple of the Reclining Buddha.
So, we change our plans and head out for some local food at the corner of the street from where we stayed and planned to check out more of Khao San since we had more time.
It's true what they say, that if you want fabulous and cheap food, go to where the locals are, and that's what we did! We had the best Thai dinner on our trip, all for BHT105, plus two bottles of water! It was spicy and bursting with flavor!
After dinner, I felt like dessert and we wound up at Swensen's for some ice cream.
Well, we must have taken a wrong turn, as we ended up getting lost! We had to walk all the way back from where we came to get back on Khao San Road, where the shopping never ceased, and we bought a bunch of pretty scarves and token souvenirs for the many friends and family back home.
My knee started to hurt again, so we had to decide if we were going to hang out somewhere or head back to the hotel... and it was only 11pm! Then we passed a bar where a local rock cover band was performing and decided to check them out. These guys were awesome! My expectations of cover bands are never high as they do their best to cover the melodies and keys of a song, but rarely do the songs any justice.
I was optimistic about Friday, especially since we didn't have to run around like headless chickens, to find our bearings. The tours were definitely welcomed!