Friday, February 20, 2015

Asia Trip - Day 12 - Bangkok, Thailand

Fri 20
Explore Bangkok
After breakfast at our hotel, step into the Old Kingdom of Siam at the Grand Palace of Thailand, a sprawling compound of ceremonial halls, gilded spires, and ornate buildings. The ancient city's defining landmark since 1782, the palace became the centerpiece of a new Thai capital called Krung Thep ("City of Angels"), known outside of Thailand as Bangkok. It was King Mongkut (or Rama IV) who ruled from this palace, expanded trade with the West, and was romanticized in the musical The King and I. Amid the grandeur of the palace, a surprisingly simple sculpture captures the attention of most Thai visitors: the 26-inch Emerald Buddha in the temple of Wat Phra Kaew. Carved out of jade, the figurine is so beloved by the Thais that the king himself changes its robes for each hot, rainy, and
cool season. After lunch at a local restaurant, we'll check into our hotel and take a
brief orientation walk. This evening, we board a traditional wooden rice barge for a memorable Welcome Dinner. We'll cruise past the Temple of the Dawn and the Grand Palace, both of which are spectacular by moonlight.
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Today was officially the first day of the base program. In Myanmar we were on a "Pre-Program"
We had a few moments after breakfast before we were supposed to meet, so I took a photo of our hotel. There are 14 floors.

The lobby. William, look at the fountain.

Sonyeon wanted to take a look at the fountain because there were pretty fish in there.

At 9 am we were supposed to come to an orientation meeting. Group leader Ole gave us right away a good impression. We also met three more fellow travelers who were not on the pre-trip. Now we are 16 plus Ole.

We stop briefly at our room before we finally start the sightseeing. We had forgotten to leave a dollar on the pillow (1 per room) for the maids. We were told that is the thing to do here in South East Asia. We did it in Burma too.

View from our room.

Ole wanted to get going as soon as possible. He knew because of the holiday (Chinese New Year) there would be many MANY tourists at the Grand Palace.
No kidding.

First the bus had been in line to get there so we could disembark. Then we scooted patiently along. There were also many bus loads from cruise ships.

Finally we were "in". And ohhhhh, was it worth it!!
I feel like I should put a disclaimer here. I have lots of photos but of course I can't put them all into the blog. Also, as much as I think the photos are nice, they really don't capture the "real thing". The temple area in the Grand Palace is just incredible with its many beautiful buildings, sculptures, water lilies in huge ornament pots, and and and.

This is a model of Angkor Wat which we are going to see in a few days in Cambodia.

This is the entrance to see the Emerald Buddha (green jade). Shoes off of course. The Buddha was small and high up but the hall itself was incredibly decorated. In there: no photography allowed.

Here is a very long porch wall with a wonderful mural. Scenes from Hindu legends.

Now we have left temple ground and are on palace grounds. This is the house in which Anna would have taught the king's children. You do remember the movie "The King and I"? She really had been here but a lot is probably fiction. That King was # 5. The present one is # 9 . No photos allowed inside.

Leaving was almost as tedious as getting in. The bus is called by cellphone (parking!) and off we go to lunch. Another nice place and we admit: we ate too much.

Back to the hotel for a rest and then off again to a dinner cruise on the Chai Praya river. That was really really nice with a warm breeze. No commentary needed. Really.

River City Mall. We think this is where we bought our two silk carpet those many years ago.

The palace where we had been in the morning.

On the left are green mangoes. Not so impressive. Above the yellow is jack fruit which I really liked.

There were also little banana leaf baskets with flavored sticky rice and fresh mango but my photo was bad.

And then the bus brought us back to the hotel and we sat in the bar for just a little while with some of our fellow travelers.
Time to go to bed. Night night.


  1. One dollar per day? That is a deal!

    Well, I know that I said that I was going to run out of superlatives, but I’ve run out of WORDS! The multilayered surface on the steeple (I know it’s not a steeple, but the high pointy part of the temple) is amazing. It looks like the most ornate cake decorating I’ve ever seen – like those sugar-paste roses gone wild!

    I’m wondering how much time you actually have to take this all in. Do you feel rushed at all when you are with the group or do you have enough time to absorb it to some extent?

    Beautiful night sights – I always think that big cities look their best at night. Even ugly ones like Los Angeles!

    1. No, I don't think I feel rushed. OAT is a great group to travel with and their guides are the best. This is our third time traveling with them.
      Kim, I must admit though that I am overwhelmed pretty much every day. Censory overload! Another reason to write a blog every day. And best to write it right away. Can't remember what I saw three days ago.