08.27.2015 38 °C
Our day started with a fairly lazy morning and some breakfast. We took the train as close as we could to the temples we wanted to see, and then hopped into a Tuk Tuk to get us the rest of the way, since we were told "the only way to get there is by boat."
Of course, the Tuk Tuk took us to a boat travel agency at the end of the long alley way in the video, so we just decided to pay.
Here's the view from our long tail at some of the nicer buildings in Bangkok on the river.
And another one of a shrine or temple or monetary. Not sure which, since we didn't go to it.
Contrast the wealth of the city with delapidated buildings.
The first temple we visited was Wat Arun, which was being partially restored. You can imagine how magnificent it will look once it's done and all white again.
Kim just outside the temple. This was her pick Idea for the morning!
The Wat had several sculptures around the outside of it that look pretty great together.
A small portion of the renovated Wat Arun showing the detail and craftsmanship that these people had/have.
The largest section of the Wat was completely covered in scaffolding so it was pretty hard to see the details, but you can get a sense of the height.
These guys surround the entire base of the four smaller shrines surrounding the big central shrine I just mentioned.
The symmetry of this place is spot on.
Again with the symmetry, but different colors. This section is around the base of the big, middle column covered in scaffolding.
It also seems as though you would be able to walk up quite high on the main pillar before renovations began.
Up close detail of the porcelain and the detail within the porcelain. These places are all about the tiny details.
I'm not sure the significance of these guys holding up the base, but they're fantastic to stare at, especially from this angle.
Another section, another carving with incredible detail.
This horseman was about half way up one of the surrounding pillars. He views are unique at any given moment.
Here's Kim about 10 steps below me to give you a sense of scale of the size of the steps. Gotta watch yourself going up or down!
More restoration, detail, and symmetry. The beauty of this place....
As I said before, there are many sculptures surrounding the place of different animals and people/gods that contrast quite nicely with the temple.
Here's a diagram of the Wat to give you more of an idea what I'm talking about with the main pillar and surrounding pillars.
The grounds of this temple were not only the main Wat, but had several other gardens and buildings to view.
This is a frame of the queen of Thailand. Pictures of the king and queen are everywhere, and the Thai people adore them. They seem to be somewhere on the level of the queen of England, but have complete and utter devotion and support from the people. They really do love them.
Here's a closeup of another building on the grounds.
From there, we took a ferry acros the river (which is just as hectic as the streets, believe it or not) to go to Wat Pho, with the "laying Buddah." The video hopefully gives you an idea of the scale of this building and the size of the Buddah. The clinking sound you hear in the background is people butting money into bins on the other side for good luck.
This is a view from the top of the Buddah looking all the way down. Took me a while to get this one because there are so many tourists walking in and around this building.
As you saw in the video above, there are mosaics painted on every wall, going all the way up to the ceiling.
They apparently depict entire Buddhist stories as a continuous stream moving top to bottom.
Her's the other side of the laying Buddah. The "hair" is made entirely from sea shells.
Again, as with Wat Arun, Wat Pho is made up of many buildings. It was actually started as a Thai Massage school, and some parts of it are still used as such. This picture was from s garden of some of the spires we'll get to in a minute.
Still in the garden, but a better view.
These "giants" we're around 10-12 feet tall and were placed on either side of the walk way to the spires.
It's all about the details...
These are some of the other buildings in the compound where the Thai massage students learn.
Here's a model of the compound to give you an idea of its size and the location of some of the buildings we went to. The big building in the top right area is the lying Buddah building.
Lining the ceilings and walls were depictions of animals playing and dancing. This was my favorite. Also pretty sure that's gold leaf in there too...
Here was the entrance to another one of the main buildings in Wat Pho. This shows the Buddah laying on a serpent with seven heads. It has something to do with the servant being a God of rain, and covering the Buddah from the rain. I wish I knew more about Buddhism because there's intricate symbolism in every sculpture, painting, and carving.
Here you see the common tigers guarding an entrance. Cool note - they had free-moving round balls of stone they were chewing on in their mouths.
Yet another depiction of the Buddah on the serpent. A third time, but still hugely impressive in person.
Another doorway with the Tigers.
These however, were my favorite guards. Not entirely sure what they are supposed to be, but they're menacing! And beautiful.
Yet another HUGE building in the complex. They're just as long as they are high.
Here's one of the doors to the building. The entire door is full of pearl inlay with some grey stone. The detail in the craftsmanship is what really makes this place.
Another example. This is high up off the ground, and probably something most people don't even see all the time. Everywhere you look has this level of perfection and detail.
We actually stumbled into the building on the other side, which had a monk speaking to a bunch of students. What a grand hall.
We left after spending about 3 hours in the complex. Just on the other side of the wall: street vendors.
We walked through the city a bit more, and again, stumbled on a great sight. This is the grand palace from across a huge park. Lot of homeless people hanging around, but Bangkok is a large, modern city. It's just weird to see something from a time so far gone in a place with TV screens and automated trains..
Kim and her Brothers stayed on this road on their last trip. It's basically the Bourbon street of Bangkok. Clubs, bars, strip clubs, food vendors, vendors selling random stuff - including, and I kid you not, a flashlight taser. The guy just walks up to you and says here look, and crackles a freaking taser at you. Wild place, including plenty of the lady boys
Our last day started off too slow, and we were unable to make it to the Grand Palace. Unfortunately this was the one thing that you're "supposed" to do in Bangkok, but I think we got enough of the awe in with all the other Wats. Just and excuse to come back anyway! So instead, we decided to go to the Jim Thompson house before our flight left for Cambodia later that day.
The Jim Thompson house is a compound made by a U.S. Ex-pat after WWII. He was stationed abroad in Thailand, but never saw action, and came back to live. He fell in love with the culture, and is attributed with revitalizing the silk trade from Thailand to the U.S. and the rest of the world. His crowning jewel though, was his home. He loved the Thai architecture and gathered/saved houses and materials from all over Thailand and moved them to Bangkok. He used traditional building practices and materials to make it all as authentic as it could be, and in return, ended up creating some of the best preserved examples of this type of building. Here is his garden, which his main house overlooked
This is a print of the big bowl below. Several of the parts could be removed to add different colors to whatever you were printing on.
Some sort of beautiful porcelain map that he saved.
Here's part of his main house, lifted up on stilts like traditional Thai design to protect the house from flooding during he rainy season. The red paint on the outside is also a traditional Thai material made from a jungle plant that helped protect the wood from being prematurely weathered.
View into modern Bangkok from his backyard. I should probably mention at this point that the guy is dead. He went missing in Malaysia some time in the 60s (if I remember correctly) and his home has since been turned into a museum.
A view to his porch and main living room. Unfortunately they prohibit taking photos of the inside of the house.
This is one of, if not the oldest Buddah sculptures around. Our guide said it dates to over 1,400 years ago.
The next few photos are of the "spirit house," another Thai building ritual. The Thai's believe that they are respecting the people that have died in the grounds the house is being built on by giving them a place to live. The spirit house must never be in the shade of the main house and routinely has offerings of water and food. (This is widely practiced in Thailand from what we have seen).
Terrible picture, but this high rise caught my eye as being one of the most amazing looking in all of Bangkok. Once I find an aerial of it, I'll share it.
Finally, before I left Bangkok, I had to get a custom suit made!! Couldn't be happier with my choice (by recommendation). The place was run like clock work, professional, on point, on schedule, and at a great price for something like this.