Thursday, 1 October 2009

Bangkok: Grand Palace & Emerald Buddha Temple

We started our tour around Bangkok by having the taxi driver drop us at the Grand Palace where in its vicinity were several other wats to visit. It was an extremely hot day and the place was engulfed by tourists. We spent two hours adoring the beautiful architecture and artwork of the palace buildings as well as its intricate and lavish museum collections.

First, we walked along the wall painting galleries which surrounds the Royal Monastery. These were painted in the 1700s during the time of King Rama I's reign. These beautiful paintings, though aged with time, have been restored several times and maintenance work for preservation continues.

The Phra Mondop is such an exquisite building. I especially like the golden nagas with their tapering body of stained glass. We also visited the Wat Phra Kaeo Museum where the old wooden beams, framework and figurines of the palace buildings are kept. These have now been replaced with new ones as we see in the standing buildings. And, you will see a pile of elephant bones being exhibited. In the upper floors, Buddha figurines and fine glassware are exhibited. The other attires of the Emerald Buddha are also kept here, in a room where a menacing tiger head mat stares out of the door, frightening every tourist who unknowingly peer into the room.

The Pavilion of Regalia, Royal Decorations and Coins is also an interesting visit. We saw jeweleries and other items studded with precious stones. Even the spitoon is made of gold and so finely studded with gems. It's unbelievable how much finery anyone can indulge in. The belt of precious stones reminded me of the waist belt from Deltora's Quest anime. So, there is such a thing!

R wanted to visit Khaosan area but we got lost as I struggled with the Bangkok official map I got from the airport. We walked towards the north and went past Silpakorn University and continued until we were near Thammasat University. We were walking along the Maharat Road until we reached a big cross road. A man approached to ask us where we were heading. "Lost" must have been written all over our faces. I thought we could visit the National Museum since it was the closest thing to where we were but it was closed. According to him, Khaosan becomes lively only at night. So, we walked back and decided to take a taxi to get to Siam Square. It was an extremely hot and sunny day. We were hungry and thirsty. Funny thing was that I always thought Siam Square is a mall. Hehe, when the driver got to the square, he didn't know where to stop while I was busy looking for the "building". He explained that the whole area of shopping complexes is Siam Square. Ok, now I get it. Sigh. I wanted air-conditioning and saw MBK. R welcomed the idea and that's where we spent an afternoon of comfort, window shopping and lounging at the 5th flr food avenue where a live mini orchestra plays in the evening.

A wall painting

Another wall painting of a monastery

A couple enjoying the sights of the Grand Palace

Trash bins that blend in with the buildings' artistry

Phra Mondop (repository for sacred scriptures of Buddha on palm leaves), next to the gold Phra Siratana Chedi

5-headed Naga at the entrances of Phra Mondop

Beautiful stained glass pillar

Designs of stained glass walls on Phra Mondop

Miniature model of Angkor Wat

Miniature model of Angkor Wat

Lined statues on every storey of Angkor Wat model

Deity statues supporting a pagoda

Golden guardian figurine

Purple lotus by Prasat Phra Dhepbidorn (The Royal Pantheon)

Temple of Emerald Buddha & Phra Siratana Chedi

Emerald Buddha in rainy season attire

Corridor of Emerald Buddha Temple

Golden statues along corridor of Emerald Buddha Temple

Giant doors at the back of Emerald Buddha Temple

Big tall pillars

Many tall pillars

One of the many pagodas near the entrance

Bell tower

Phra Siratana Chedi through the pillars of Emerald Buddha Temple

Grand Palace

Grand Palace

Heavily crafted window borders of the Dusit Maha Prasat hall

Monks entering the palace grounds

View as we are walking out

School children

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