So I know I have barely touched on life here in Mumbai, but I need to share the high lights of my trip to Bangkok before they disappear completely from my mind LOL.
One thing I kept hearing over and over before I even got here is that the shoppingin Bangkok is DIVINE! So after dealing with the stress of partially unpacking, sort of settling in and stumbling my way around Mumbai my dear husband suggested a quick weekend trip to unwind. (Besides we had promised ourselves that we would try to see as much of Asia and surrounding areas as we could while we are on this side of the world)
This one was just for the girls… hubby heard the word shopping and reeled off one million and one other things he’d rather be doing that weekend (the list BTW included pulling his teeth). Anyway he had already been and would probably just slow us down. 🙂
We headed over in mid September… I think the flight was about 3 hours or so (see what I mean about details disappearing) – we took Kingfisher Airlines and was pleasantly surprised by the service and the food – both of which were great!
We were booked at the the Marriott Courtyard in Bangkok but let me tell you, it;s not like the Courtyards back home – The hotel and rooms were very very nice and the service was exceptional! We were hungry as soon as we arrived so we checked in and headed the the restaurant for a bite. I had really been looking forward to the food and I had a crispy fish that was just EXCELLENT!!!
All the travel sites said – no trip to Bangkok is complete without a visit to the Grand Palace… so the next day we are picked up by a guide whom we had booked at the airport, and we head off the the grand palace… Importamt to note that they have a very strict dress code which is enforced rigidly for touring the Palace. Right out the bat my guide took one look at me in my capris and said they were too short (Are you kidding me? they were at my knees!!) – no no no – it just would not do – so I ended up purchasing a sarong at the gate (they were doing a booming business so I assume that tourists regularly show up ill prepared for the tour).
I wrapped the sarong over my capris and I was ready – never mind it was almost a hundred degrees and sweat had already begun to trickle down my thighs – I thought “I’m here and I’m doing this tour one way or another so lets go!”
So I have quite a few pictures from the Grand Palace and I’ll just post these without much commentary… ( as I explained the old memory is not what it used to be) LOL. I will say the place is SPECTACULAR (in a gaudy kind of way) – they use a lot of gold and ornate artwork… and it really takes your breath away when you see each piece up close – intricate does not even begin to describe some of the details on the buildings and incorporated into the architecture.
As an aside though – in between my admiration I really thought I was about to pass out from a heat stroke once or twice… either that or I would violate their dress code and begin stripping… then I would be ousted from the Palace and probably blacklisted in Bangkok forever… so I tried to think cool thoughts and hung in there… People who are considering visiting should invest in some kind of personal cooling device.
A little background:
The Grand Palace is a complex of buildings in. It served as the official residence of the Kings of Thailand from the 18th century onwards. Construction of the Palace began in the 1700’s when the reigning king decided to move the capital across the river from Thonburi to Bangkok. The Palace has been constantly expanded and many additional structures were added over time. The present King of Thailand, however, does not reside there.
So I was flung off this wall about 2 seconds after this pic was taken – apparently sitting here is frowned upon… who knew… (well actually the sign that I did not see said it was). Trust a Jamaican to find a way to violate the rules \o/
I finally figured out why sitting is forbidden – it’s a temple…
I don;t really have words to describe the Emerald Buddha Chapel – it is unlike anything I have every seen. I was able to snap one photo below then they confiscated my camera – Picture taking is forbidden (come to think of it – there is a lot of stuff forbidden at the Grand Palace). This picture really does not do it any justice at all – but I saw the guy heading my way and I had a feeling something not so pleasant was about to ensue…
A little background:
The Emerald Buddha, like many revered Buddha images in Thailand, seems to have a rather mysterious history. Theubosot (chapel) housing the Emerald Buddha is actually the only original building in the temple. . Like most of the buildings in the compound, the ubosot’s exterior is finished in colored mirror tiles and gilt carving. The eaves are lined with bronze bells which tinkle in the slightest breeze.
The doors are inlaid with mother-of-pearl designs. Inside, the Emerald Buddha sits high up on a gilt alter. The image, is actually carved from a solid piece of green jade, not emerald, The image has three golden ‘costumes’ which are changed with the seasons by His Majesty the King or one of his children.
On either side of the high alter are screens which create a private area for the royal family when visiting the temple. In front of the Emerald Buddha are several other Buddha images placed there by the kings of the dynasty. The two lowest images were placed there by the present king.
I saw smoke and some pots and I thought BBQ! Something is cooking here!!! Turns out it was incense… sun stroke, reprimands, run ins with the royal bouncers – I was getting mighty hungry!
There were some Royal guards standing outside of a State house? or something – apparently President Obama has stayed here on visit(s) to Bangkok
That was about it – we were hot, sweaty, tired, hungry and on the watch list – time to beat a graceful retreat…
Street food and shopping was calling my name!
More about that in Part II.