And here comes the last part of our Thailand series, hopefully not the last of our visit to the land of smiles. A first time tourist or visitor or traveler should not go to Thailand and leave without seeing any of its famous wats or temples. You go to Thailand for these.
It was the hottest day of the year in Bangkok when we ventured into “the city where anything goes but the traffic”. From Pattaya, where we were based, we took a bus going to Bangkok. Travel time is around 1-2 hours depending on the traffic. We alighted on a metro train station, very much like the Philippines’ MRT, and boarded the train going to the port where boats and ferries set sail on the Chao Phraya River. Stations 8-9 take you tourists to the most popular temple grounds.
Growing up in the Philippines, I am already accustomed to the madness of Manila. In a way, navigating Bangkok is quite easy but the sweltering heat, hotter than Manila, made the journey challenging. Bangkok, when translated into its 26-word Thai name, will trump all tongue twisters you’ve ever encountered. So in the essence of saving space, I’ll just type its shortened name, Krung Thep or “City of Angels.” Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, sprawls along the banks of the Chao Phraya River, home of some of the grandest temples in the world.
We decided to begin our tour in the biggest of them all, the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. Both temples are inside a vast ground that most tourists flock every day. The former, the Grand Palace, was the residence of the former kings and their families but today, it’s mainly used for royal ceremonies like Coronation Day. The latter, the Wat Phra Kaew, is the holiest temple in Thailand. It houses the most sacred Buddha image, the Emerald Buddha. Entrance fee is 500 baht.
|No entrance to most temples.|
|E touching the surreal walls of the temple|
|Wonderful colors; blue is a fave.|
|Towering over us|
|Gold statues every where|
|This is heavy noh?|
|Entrance to an Angkor Wat miniature|
|Incredible work of creativity and sense of religion|
|My vision turned gold.|
|Behold the guard!|
There is a dress code that each visitor must follow when visiting Thailand’s temples. Men and women must be dressed appropriately: covered shoes, no sleeveless shirts, and clothes must cover the legs. When we were shopping for our outfits, I kept reminding Eyecandy of these rules. Her frustration on having limited choices drove her crazy. Her frustration drove me crazy… with laughter.
Removing shoes is a must before entering the Wat Phra Keuw. You might be surprised when you see the Emerald Buddha. It’s not tall; it doesn’t grand. It’s a mere 66 cm tall and with all the flowers, offerings, and rails surrounding it, it’s hard to even see it closely. But the Emerald Buddha is a heavyweight in spiritual and historical significance having been traveled across the Indian subcontinent, Laos, and finally settling in Thailand over 200 years ago. It is the holiest image if the Buddha in Thailand. It’s so sacred, no photography is allowed inside the Wat Phra Keuw. The Buddha is actually made of jade.
We were truly awed and amazed by the temples inside the Grand Palace. The entire place is well-designed, lavish, and beautiful. It’s a place you won’t find anywhere else (unless of course you see replicas or miniatures of the place). Every nook and cranny offers view of the magnificent temples and structures. It’s a brilliant piece of artwork spanning 945,000 square meters. Just wandering around half of the place made us so tired. Add that to the hottest temperature ever and we were done with the Grand Palace.
We sought a cold escape in a small restaurant just outside the main gate and ate lunch. After resting a bit, we hailed a tuk-tuk, an auto rickshaw almost similar to the Philippines’ tricycle. It can carry 2-3 persons at a time. It’s great for navigating short distances.
While stuck in traffic, Eyecandy and I can’t help but notice the pink taxis in the road. And of course, being Pink Tarhas, we can’t help but smile seeing how cute the color is. It’s even glistening in the daylight. It looks like… candy. Haha.
Our next stop is the nearby Wat Pho, another popular temple in Bangkok. This temple is said to be older than Bangkok itself having been around since the 16th century. Whoah! It houses the longest reclining Buddha in Thailand. I saw pictures of the reclining Buddha in the Internet but I was so amazed when I saw it up close. Now I know why no photo can ever capture it in its entirety. It’s quite difficult to do so.
|First, a glimpse…|
|Then a full view of the face.|
|My attempt to get a full shot of the reclining Buddha|
The reclining Buddha is 45 meters long! The soles of the Buddha are inlaid with mother of pearl to show 108 auspicious laksana (characteristics of the Buddha). There are 108 bronze bowls in the corridor symbolizing the laksana. People can drop coins in this bowl. It is believed to bring good fortune.
Outside the wihaan housing the reclining Buddha, the compound opens up to 91 chedis (stupas or mounds), four vicars (halls) and a bot (central shrine). The Wat Pho is also known as the birthplace of the traditional Thai massage. The temple is home to the Traditional Medical Practitioners Association Center, a school for Thai massage and medicine.
Another must-visit wat is the Wat Arun located at the opposite river bank from the Grand Palace and Wat Pho. The Temple of Dawn is a vast complex too and climbing up the prang (tower) is a must, along with seeing the porcelain-embedded exterior, murals and the sacred banyan tree. However, we were content to gaze at the Wat Arun from the river.
Seriously, we were too tired to visit another temple complex. Our bodies were aching for air-con (yes, we were actually dreaming of Riyadh by this time… and screaming ‘please AIR-CON!!!’ LOL!). We visited the malls after. (What’s a Pink Tarha trip without a visit to the mall?! Hehe.)
The Siam Center, one of Bangkok’s oldest shopping centers, has been renovated and is now offeringthe latest in Bangkok’s fashion scene. The third floor, dubbed as “Fashion Visionary” has Thailand designer brands. We also found a store which carries Jeffrey Campbell! For a time, I think we hyperventilated upon seeing the shelves of Litas, Night Walks, and other JCs! We had to walk away forlorn because we couldn’t even buy a pair. Hehe. We also saw the Cath Kidston store. If Shoegarfreeruby was with us, she’ll be happy with Siam Center.
We crossed the open area to the next mall, Siam Paragon, one of the biggest shopping centers in Asia featuring luxury brands. It also houses the Siam Ocean World, the largest aquarium in South East Asia. We strolled around a bit and decided to go back to Pattaya already having had a full and fun day in Bangkok.
We missed quite a few tourist spots in Bangkok. We didn’t get to visit the famed Chatuchak Weekend Market (sayang, I was ready to exercise my bargaining prowess) and the Floating Market. But there are other times, yeah? Next time we visit Bangkok, we wouldn’t dare miss these!
We arrived Pattaya around 9:00 in the evening and because Eyecandy was still looking for some adventure, haha, and because we missed getting down and dirty with the Thai crowds (I mean experiencing the weekend market), we went back to a night market we passed by on our way to the hotel. Because we didn’t know the name of the place, E had to describe the place to the driver. Good thing, they knew what she was talking about.
It was the best decision ever to venture out into the night and into the crowded night market (thank you, E, for dragging my ass to this, haha). It was a whole bunch of sensory overload as we discover the goodies awaiting us! We were so drawn to the street food, because we’ve always wanted to try the street food in Thailand. South East Asian countries are known for their street food and in Pattaya, we found a LOT.
|Oyster omelet fresh from the makeshift pan|
|Raw ingredients for a good soup or dish; choose and they’ll cook it!|
The popular pad thai is a favorite so we had to get it. Also a serving of oyster omelet which a Thai lady was cooking in what seemed to be an upside down drum covered in frying oil. There were exotic food like crickets which we balked at. We moved on and spotted stalls of really cheap maki and sushi rolls. I had to get a styro of those. Eyecandy spotted a weirdly-shaped corn dog and fried quail eggs. The meat in their barbecue is flat instead of long so we have to try them too.
While roaming around, we stumbled upon a couple doing caricatures and that’s when we decided to have ours done. It was pretty cheap at only 160 baht. With the frame, it’s 400 baht.
|Sundrenched and Eyecandy 🙂|
I think the artist got us down pat. What do you think? 😉
The receptionist in our hotel might be curious as to why we were bringing heaps of plastic bags. Well, it was our way of toasting our stay in Thailand… street food party! We opened every thing in our hotel room and savored each bite. True to what we’ve always known, street food rocks! Thailand rocks!
Ahhh, Thailand. You’ve had your moments of torturing us with your heat and traffic (also one of your daughters almost made us miss our return flight because she forgot to set our wake-up call!) but we are very happy that we get to see you and experience the best that you have to offer to the world. Truly, you are the land of smiles. Until we meet again and we get to say, Sawaddee! (Just so you know, we’re doing the wai.)
We flew via Oman Airways back to Riyadh. We stayed a record-breaking 12 hours in the Oman Airport waiting for our connecting flight from Muscat to Riyadh. I didn’t know how we survived that layover but we did. Oh, I think the Premium Lounge and Costa Coffee helped. Lol.
I truly enjoyed this trip with Eyecandy. It’s our first trip outside Saudi Arabia and it was crazy and amazing at the same time. We kept each other
insane. Looking back, it was a LAUGH TRIP. 😉
This being our last entry on Thailand, we would like to thank the person who made all this possible. He was the first person to support The Pink Tarha. And more importantly, he supported us every week day in Riyadh. Our daily life is so different now that he’s no longer here in Saudi Arabia. To the best boss ever, thank you very, very much! KOB KUN MAK KRAB! ~ Sundrenched
Revisit our Thailand adventure: