What wat?

Trip Start Sep 23, 2004
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Flag of Thailand  ,
Saturday, September 25, 2004

Think I've just about shaken off the jet lag! spent yesterday evening watching a Thai dance and food festival on Kao San Road then found a bar for a glass of water and a beer, and a nice Aussie chap who told me all about bonsai. Woke up this morning with bags under my eyes that my rucksack could fit in.. but hauled myself out of bed and was off sightseeing.

My first mistake was getting a tuk tuk (sort of a robin reliant cross bred with a motorbike....). I thought it would be a cheap way of getting around (which it was in the end) as the driver said he'd take me to places for about 2 hours for 20 bhat (about 30p). As they were all temples which sounded quite nice but were too far apart to bother visiting on my own I said ok. I knew the catch- the driver gets petrol money by taking you to a shop that tries to sell you jewellery. I said ok- but I wouldn't spend more than a couple of minutes there. Which I didn't. Anyway, he dropped me off at a big buddha (very big), a reclining buddha (very relaxed) and couple of other little temples (lots of gold sparkleyness). THen we went to the gem place, I was in and out (lots of smiling and saying no thank you, which I'm getting very good at), and he took me to the Golden Mount (big manmade hill). I wandered up- not too impressed by the temple at the top, but there are great views of Bangkok, and looked over one wall and saw the wonderful view of hundreds of dragon flies buzzing about. Anyway, then left, went outside and the driver had gone (he was going to take me to the palace after). For about a second I felt bad, because I hadn't paid him, but figured that the payment was only a token thing anyway and he'd probably found someone else to take to te gem place to get another petrol voucher! this was confirmed when another tuk tuk driver offered to take me across to the palace for free. Problem is, the map in my guidebook was awful so I didn't really know where i was. But i didn't want to take another tuk tuk and couldn't see any taxis. So I walked! Which took quite a long time as half the roads in the guide aren't named and half the streets aren't signed and you can probably guess that the roads labelled in the guide are not the ones with signposts on..... But I got there in the end (by ignoring the map and heading in the right direction until I saw lots of tall golden pointy things that looked like templey palacey things). So not a total disaster, and 5 minutes in a gem shop wasn't a bad price for being ferried around for a couple of hours, I just didn't appreciate being stranded!

Anyway, went to Wat Pho first- big Buddhist temple. It's got lots of really ornate pagodas where the ashes of the kings are kept, and a huge reclining buddha whi is so huge they built him in situ and then constructed the building around him, and covered him in gold leaf. I can't remember exactly how long it is- i think it's something like 25 metres. Bit gaudy for my taste but the architecture was amazing.

Next port of call was the royal palace- I certainly saved the best til last. It was stunning, decorated with really intricate mosaics. Lots were ceramic, which were beautiful colours, and some were glass and gold leaf which refleceted the light so much that they were almost blinding at times! The designs were very ornate, and so big it was absolutely awesome! I spent ages there, wandering around. The insides of alot of the buildings were decorated with scenes from Thai mythology, again they were really detailed- huge landscapes filled with people, demons and gods. I saw the emerald buddha too, which isn't actually emerald, and was a lot smaller than most of the others I've seen, but was probably my favourite (he was surrounded by gold disciples and seemed very serene and elegant in the middle of all the glitter).

I got a bus back to the hotel (a proper local one too!) when I worked out that the bus numbers on the bus stops bear no relation to the buses that actually go past (maybe they aren't bus numbers.... anyway, I feel like I'm now a proper traveller!- even worked out my stop and found Kao San road!).
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