Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bangkok: One Day

Bangkok in one day?  Can't be done.

I did try, choosing a hotel equidistant from the Grand Palace on one side and the shopping road of Khaosan Rd on the other.  Sadly, by the time I cooled down in my 1450 Bt room's air conditioning and washed up in its hot water shower, there wasn't a lot of daylight left for either one.

Khaosan Rd, above, is just off this intersection, Kok Wua, below with a well-posed tuk-tuk, a strategic rallying point for the democracy movement in the 1970s.  The October Movement monument on one corner of the intersection played host to an anti-war singalong the night I was in town.

Portraits of King Bhumibol cover practically every building in this area, which after all is the seat of government, with loads of ministry buildings here:

This one, a particularly fine example, was located at one end of a large public square seemingly dedcated to the longevity of the Thai royal dynasty.  The "Giant Swing" or Sao Ching Chaa, is at the other end, with this interesting sculpture in the middle:

I also got nice shots of a shady klong:

I managed to make it, not to the Grand Palace, alas, but to Wat Pho, one of the great temples by any measure.  Also known as the temple of the Reclining Buddha, it is the birthplace of Thai massage, which I didn't know until a bloke outside asked me if I wanted one.  It is a large and gilded complex, where you have to pay 50 Bt to see the big Buddha--the largest and oldest temple complex in Bangkok, in fact, housing more than 1000 Buddha images, including the reclining one, which at 46 meters long and 15 meters high, is immense.

A few images from around the temple compound:

Stone giant protecting his courtyard

Perhaps a bodhi tree, scion of the one under which the Buddha awaited enlightenment

One of these things is not like the others, one of these things is not the same ...

Detail of the base of a prang

Late afternoon sun glinting on gilding

Stone giant, guardian of the temple
A few Buddhas at the base of the bodhi tree (?)
 Visiting the temple was a blast from the past for me--the distant past, as I know we came here at least a couple of times somewhere around 1970.  The wall murals inside seem a bit dingier (they didn't photograph well enough to post) but the spires and eves seem much shinier and more golden.  I really wanted to see more, but then I didn't want to leave the beach.  Ah, well, you can't have everything.

As Steven Wright says, "Where would you put it?"


Chris said...

I presume the reclining Buddha gets his original Thai massages free of charge?

Tanner Brown said...

The second-to-last photo (of you holding the staff) -- who took that one?