National Geographic Photo of the Day

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Kingdom of Thailand – Day 6 (June 19th 2009)

This is the first full day we spent in Bangkok. After breakfast, we left for The Temple of the Emerald Buddha. This temple complex has a large number of paintings of the Ramayana and statues of Ravana as well.

Somehow Buddhism here is closely connected to Hinduism back in India. The landscape is dotted with towers of gold and studded with rubies and pearls and porcelain works of art. The details are so intricate, so carefully crafted and undoubtedly must have cost a fortune. The ashes of each king are kept in separate towers too. Some of the buildings are off limit to all but the Royal Family of Thailand.

The central piece de resistance of the temple is the Emerald Buddha idol itself. The idol is in a building within which there is a towering gold structure. You can't wear shoes or take photographs inside. At the top of the gold structure rests the Emerald Buddha around 70cm tall. This idol is totally made of emerald. And during autumn, summer and winter the King of Thailand changes the gold dress that the idol wears – there's one gold dress for each season.

Next stop was the Grand Palace. A large group of buildings whose centerpiece is a Palace which has a European style about it but the roof is in Thai style with gilded tiles. There's also a completely European style palace here built by the King Rama V, but this is completely off limits to tourists. Everything's so neat all around, so well-maintained and clean. Not a bit of litter to be seen.

The Marble temple and Reclining Buddha were next on our agenda. The reclining Buddha is a large – I really should say “long” rather than just “large” - figure of the reclining Buddha. A gigantic statue of Buddha which you see part by part from between the columns holding up the building around it.

The same complex also has a number of other gold Buddha idols as well as inscriptions of ancient massage procedures. No wonder the Thais are so good at massage.

From there, we toured the city seeing Chinatown and the Indian section of Bangkok, and the actual palace where the King and the Royal Family were still living day-to-day. Near that palace was a gem showroom sponsored by the King. More Onyx, Aquamarine, Garnet, opal, jade, emerald, rubies, quartz, rubellite, diamonds..... The prices here were much lower than the World Gems Collection at Pattaya. So Mum took a flamethrower to my Dad's wallet again. Poor man.

Soon the damage was done :D and we headed to Siam Paragon. A huge shopping center (actually only one of the many that the same group owns – among the others is Siam Discovery). Had some ice-cream and then took a look around. There's even an oceanarium on the likes of Pattaya / Singapore's Underwater World under the Siam Paragon mall. A whole oceanarium just in the basement. Wow!!!

Took a short tour of the upper floors. Found and took photos of a Lamborghini Gallardo, a few Porsches, Audis, a Spyker, and BMW. Not the kinda stuff I'd buy. Reason ? Shipping it back home would be a hassle (OK, so I don't have that much silly money).

Left via skytrain from Siam to go to National Stadium. Once again, looked all around MBK. More shopping. More clothes. Had dinner at The Pizza Company and came back to the hotel.


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