Thursday, September 3, 2009
And if that wasn't enough . . .
Well, it turns out that the Royal Palace was just the tip of the iceberg. We had a lot more to see in Bangkok so we directly went in search of Wat Pho. It was positioned within walking distance from the Palace so we ignored all of the offers for tuk-tuk rides.
Not that they didn't try, though!
We had both read through our guidebooks multiple times in anticipation for our trip so we were well prepared for all of the scams they would throw at us. We were hit up for a classic one on our first morning here. A group of tuk-tuk drivers gathered 'round and asked us the usual questions: "Where you from?" and "Where you going?". When we told them we were headed towards Wat Pho - they told us it was closed. One driver said, "because of the Queen's upcoming birthday(true) they had to shut it down to prepare for the celebrations(false). They offered to take us to "The Lucky Buddha Temple" which, they told us, was only open for one day a year . . . today!!" Our guidebook warned that "The Lucky Buddha" always turns out to be a tailor or a gem shop which will give you the hardest sell of your life. So, we politely declined their offer 17 or 18 more times and were back on track. (This would be the first of many attempts at an unbalanced portion of our wallets - thankfully all were unsuccessful).
Wat Pho was a beautiful, serene place in the heart of Bangkok. There were quite a few visitors but they didn't seem to disturb the peace as much as they did at the Royal Palace. The photo below was taken inside the 'Bot'. This is the principal congregation hall at Wat Pho. This Buddha image contains the remains of King Rama I, the founder of Bangkok.
The main attraction for sight-seeing folk like us was the massive reclining Buddha. This one is 45 metres long. It's so big that it's nearly impossible to see the whole statue - it fills up the entire sanctuary!
His feet are inlaid with mother-of-pearl showing the 108 'auspicious signs' of Buddhism.
Here is the rarely-seen, 'Buddha's Back'. You won't find this on any postcards . . .
After Wat Pho, we headed toward the famous Chao Phraya river - still one of the main transportation routes in Bangkok.
We found lunch in a small shack on the waterfront. It was some of the most delicious food we ate on our trip!! Plus, we had an awesome view of Wat Arun across the river. . .
The view of Wat Arun proved to be too tempting so, after lunch we hopped on a 10 cent ferry boat and went across. (Below is a photo looking back on where we ate).
A small taste of what was to come in Angkor. Bangkok's most famous Wat towers over the river and, after a steep climb, afforded us a great view of the city.
Up was easier than down . . . it was steep!
Here are some of the long-tail boats that rip up and down the Chao Phraya. They've got massive diesel truck engines that they've have modified for water-use. I've got some great video I'll share when I finally finish dissecting our video footage.
And here is the great Rama VIII bridge that was right next to our guesthouse. It proved to be a valuable landmark for finding our way back at night!!
After a quick shower and change(did I mention how hot Bangkok was?) we went back out. We took a short jaunt through Chinatown on our way to a night market.
We went to the Suan Lum Night Bazzar. We had some nice dinner and wandered around checking out the souvenir prospects. We were in no rush to buy anything, though. We needed to keep our backpacks light until the end of our journey.
Took the subway home - by ourselves. Turns out that the only real traffic here is for the business people during the day. Its generally cheaper and more convenient to use taxis and tuk-tuks outside of rush-hour traffic. Well, at least it had air-con!!
See you again very soon . . .