Bangkok Day One: Temple Tour & Night Cruise

Nov 12, 2022

Note: Since we’re traveling light, all blog posts are being created on my phone, which takes a lot longer. So I apologize in advance for the delays and quality. Also, I won’t be able to edit together a good overall video until I have laptop access, but there should be some videos available on our Instagram.
Updated note Nov 15, 2022: We’ve been in electronics Hell for several days. First WordPress did a system update that locked me out of posting to the blog; then our tracker quit sending location for several days. And now I guess the bike got jealous and decided to join in with its’ own electronic gremlins, refusing to start randomly.
We’re slowly getting some of them sorted, and as of now I can post again, so I’ll start trying to catch up.)

After 21 hours of plane time and another eight or so hours of layovers we landed at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok at midnight Wednesday night. Less than two hours later we were in our hotel room and quickly tried to fall asleep, as we had a busy day starting in just a few hours.

Our hotel is not in the hub of tourist central, but it is in the middle of Bobae Market, a huge textile market area. The Prince Palace Hotel is an older hotel but fairly well kept up, with several restaurants, a nice pool area on the 11th floor, and a rooftop bar. We ended up with a corner suite room on the 16th floor. It’s about the size of three Hampton Inn rooms. The huge and very good breakfast buffet is included (although the first morning we had to do battle with several hundred convention goers…plenty of food but tables were scarce even though the buffet is in a ballroom area. Because it’s Bangkok, this is one of the most expensive places we’ll stay: our large suite with breakfast buffet is about $50 a night.

By 7am we were in a tuk-tuk headed for River City Plaza to meet Mina, our tour guide. After a short water taxi ride up the Chao Phraya River, we arrived at the Grand Palace.

Taking a water taxi up the Chao Phraya River to the Grand Palace

Entering the Grand Palace

Monkeys and demons stand side by side in many places,guarding the temples and Palace

There’s a dress code you must follow before you can enter the temples. Basically it says @no uncovered ahoulders and no uncovered knees. However, it turns out that “dress modestly” also means no leggings here. They sell “elephant pants” and “elephant skirts” at the entrance to solve these issues.

The monkeys are the ones without shoes. Here, it’s the white one.

The Grand Palace has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam (and later Thailand) since 1782. It is a 54 acre collection of impressive buildings, including the royal chapel which holds the Emerald Buddha, a 19 inch wide by 26 inch high carving of green stone (not Emerald) created around 43 BC. While the King no longer resides here, it is still the center of ceremony for the monarchy.

Not a great photo, but this is the Emerald Buddha. About a week ago, they changed his clothing to symbolize winter. The King changed Buddha’s hat, then workers did the rest.

After touring the Grand Palace grounds we took a short ferry across the river to Wat Arun, or the Temple of Dawn.

Before crossing the river, we stopped at a street food vendor and bought sticky rice with coconut milk and mangoes. It was very good and around $1.50

This location was the capital of Thonburi before the capital was moved across the river to what is now Bangkok (being surrounded by temples, there was not enough room to expand at Wat Arun, so King Rama I moved the Palace to the other side of the river in 1782).

Later, King Rama II ordered Wat Arun’s main prang to be expanded to 70 meters high in order to be the highest at that time.

Wat Arun’s main prang is over 200 feet high.

At many of the temples, there are nearby shops that rent traditional Thai dress to tourists for photos.

We then returned across the river to Wat Po to view the Reclining Buddha.

It’s hard to capture the enormity of the reclining Buddha. His head is over 50 feet tall.

It’s hard to grasp the size of this monument. The Buddha is 50 feet tall and 150 feet long. The reclining position represents the entry of Buddha into Nirvana and the end of reincarnation.

Note that all ten of Buddha’s toes are identical in size and length. It’s said this is to show his perfect form.

Wat Po has the largest collection of Buddhas in Thailand at over one thousand spread over nearly 20 acres.

Rows of Buddhas at Wat Po.

Occasionally we would see a cat curled up and sleeping, while crowds moved past. Nothing seemed to bother them.

Mina, our tour guide.

After a couple hour nap, we headed back to the river for a dinner cruise. The buffet was huge and there was a duo who performed (mostly in English but occasionally in Thai and Chinese). The city looks and feels very different from the river at night… less hectic, more relaxed and very pretty.

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