Monday, 22 July 2013

Bangkok, Thailand - Sawatdee



Saturday July 20, 2013

We wake up early (must be the jet lag) and head to breakfast.  We were expecting the basic continental breakfast but were pleasantly surprised. There were so many varieties of food.  There was thai lunch food, North American breakfast food, an omelet  station and an entire baked goods section. We ate breakfast and got ready for our city tour. 

Before we started the tour, we went to Crown Tailors to get some custom made clothes sewn. This was one of things I had always wanted to do if I visited South  East Asia.  Unfortunately, women's  clothes take a lot more time and fittings so I could only order pants. Aleem ordered a few items too. We were asked to come back at 7:30pm for our first fitting. 

We headed back to the hotel and our tour guide was waiting for us. His name is Joey pronounced "Joy." He gave us some basic history of Thailand. 

-The capital of Thailand has changed a few times based on resources. 
- Bangkok has been the capital for the last 233 years 
- The Thai people have some Mongolian blood - originate from south of China
- 10 million population in Bangkok grew from 1 million. Largest economy in Thailand. People come to the city to work. Taxi drivers and street vendors are popular occupations. 
-Biggest industry is the car manufacturing.  3 million cars are made in Thailand per year. Most of these are Japanese cars. 
-temples cannot be moved so they get abandoned
- It costs a lot of money to survive in the city and therefore Monks can choose an amount of time to practice. 

Our first stop is: 
- Temple of the Golden Buddha (Wat Triamit) -This highly revered temple contains the Golden Image Buddha, which is made of solid gold and weighs approximately 5500 kgs. 

From there we headed to the temple of the reclining Buddha (Wat Pho) - One of the oldest and largest temples in Bangkok features the famous Reclining Buddha, which is the largest in Thailand measuring 15m tall by 47m wide.  When Buddha was 80 years old, he could not sit straight hence the reclining Buddha. Definitely a site to see. 

Our next stop was the Grand Palace. This is Bangkok's famous palace complex. It was built in 1782 and features several magnificent buildings. It was the old king of Thailand's residence. It is now used for royal ceremonies and as a site for tourists to visit. There have been many generations of kings -I think our tour guide said the present king is number 9.  Just like in England, the king is not involved politically. The power is with the parliament. 

The Grand Palace also houses the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaeo). The temple contains a beautiful Emerald Buddha that dates back to the 14th century. 

We also saw Wat Suthat. Built in the early 19th century to house the large 25-foot-tall Phra Sri Sakyamuni Buddha statue, this temple features the huge red frame of a giant swing once used in annual ceremonies to celebrate and thank Shiva. 

The Grand Palace also has a model of the Angkor Wat - a temple located in Cambodia. 

 I noticed a lot of similarities between the temples in Thailand and the churches we saw in Italy. Very intricate work outside and inside the churches/temples, lots of gold and murals/paintings on the walls, doors,etc of both. 

From here we saw a little bit of China Town and headed towards the Bangkok Canal for our boat ride. The boat ride was described as the Venice of Thailand. I disagree. It was awful. The boat seemed unsafe. We were taken through the poor areas of Bangkok along the canal. We saw a floating market as well. Aleem thought it was educational. 

Our last stop on the tour was the temple of  Dawn  (Wat Arun). This temple is considered to be the most famous and photographed temple in Bangkok, which features a soaring 70-meter-high spire decorated with tiny pieces of colored glass and Chinese porcelain. It was truly magnificent. There were stairs to climb to the top of the temple. Aleem went all the way to the top. He said the stairs were really steep and I wouldn't have been able to come down had I made it to the top. From where I was standing waiting for him, I don't think I could have made it past the first ten steps. We will have to show you pictures. 

We return to the hotel and are exhausted. It is so hot in Bangkok. It feels like a permanent sauna. After a quick power nap, we head to the tailors for our first fitting. Aleem's suit comes in three pieces. It's so cool to see! My pants are okay and need some alterations. I have another fitting tomorrow. 

We walk through the streets and some night markets before ending up at Pier 21 - a gigantic mall (more details on the next post). By this point we are starving so we head to Smooth Curry in the Plaza Athenee Royal Meridian Bangkok. The Thai food was really good. We found this restaurant using our trusty trip advisor app.  By the time we got back to the hotel we were both ready to crash. I think I'm still feeling the time differen

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