Tuesday, November 20, 2012

a really big Buddha: The Grand Palace and Wat Pho

the city pillar shrine

It was nice of President Obama to join us on our honeymoon in Thailand. According to reports, he really enjoyed visiting the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, where the enormous Reclining Buddha is housed. It's one of the main tourist attractions in Bangkok, so it's always really busy and crowded, but we enjoyed it too.

We got to the grounds by taking the Chao Praya Express, which despite its name, is not actually a train but a ferry boat that Thai people take across the choppy waters of the river to get to work. The trip was chaotic, with no staff to regulate the capacity of the boat (not that a maximum capacity was posted anywhere, even if someone did care), just a ticket collector making her way through the crowd. The ferry was jerky, often slamming unceremoniously into the dock as long-tailed speedboats whipped past us, carrying waving tourists who were willing to pay more than the fifty cents that the Chao Praya Express charged for a ride. I suspect Obama didn't take the ferry.

Despite the large number of peddlers trying to sell us silk and con artists trying to convince us that the sites were closed, we made it to the Grand Palace without too much incident.

The entrance to the Grand Palace was closely guarded by the Clothes Police, making sure that nobody was entering the grounds immodestly dressed: clothing down to elbows and knees, no open-toed or open-heeled footwear. On one hand, I've been finding the Buddhist temple dress codes somewhat inconvenient - sometimes it just feels too hot to be wearing sweaters and jeans in hot Bangkok. On the other hand, I'm always a bit surprised at what some other tourists consider to be appropriate wardrobe for a visit to a religious site. Really? A belly top and hot pants?

After touring the Grand Palace, we stopped to eat some mangos. Every tourist that passed us viewed our fruit with envy.

the ministry of defence: lots of guns

The Reclining Buddha of Wat Pho was really big. In our view, anyway. Apparently President Obama thought so too. Great minds think alike. It was too big to actually fit in one camera shot, no matter how hard I tried.


Buddha's feet


Buddha's back 

it was interesting to see so many statues of Buddha here, especially after seeing Angkor Wat, where many of the statues of Buddha in the temples had been deliberately destroyed

fierce temple guards

fierce temple kitties

i met lil sebastien!