In October/November 2012 I visited Nepal and Bhutan. On the way to Nepal I stopped in Bangkok for a couple of nights, for a short visit to Southeast Asia.
I arrived in the evening and stayed in Sukhumvit. That evening I just relaxed in a street restaurant near the hotel. There were a lot of night workers on the streets in that area.
In the morning I took the Sky Train to the river to go on a river cruise. This worked out very well, I had a very enjoyable trip up and down the river. You can get a day pass for the boat that allows you to get on and off as often as you like. This was the best way to see a lot of the city.
The first stop on the cruise was at Wat Arun. This is a spectacular temple complex, a must-see. I then stayed on the boat all the way to Nonthaburi. I walked around Nonthaburi for a while, looking at the local market.
On the way back I stopped at the Grand Palace. I did not go into the palace, it was expensive and very crowded. Instead I took a tuktuk to Wat Suthat, a small but nice temple. Taking a tuktuk is inexpensive, but you have to be aware that they work for the various stores. So any trip in a tuktuk involves visits to three stores. Some of the jewelry that I saw in one of the stores actually looked nice, but was too expensive. I am sure you can find better prices if you know your way around.
From there I walked to Wat Pho. This is the most impressive complex that I saw in Bangkok. It is definitely worth a long visit. The roof decorations are mirrored glass pieces. It was fairly overcast, so it was not very bright. But the sun was shining through holes in the clouds and reflecting off the glass pieces. This made for eye-catching light flashes from different parts of the temple roofs when I moved around.
One of the main attraction in Wat Pho is the statue of the Reclining Buddha. It is 15 m (49 ft) high and 43 m (141 ft) long. The 3 m (10 ft) high and 4.5 m (14.8 ft) long soles of the feet of Buddha are inlaid with mother-of-pearl. They are divided into 108 arranged panels, displaying the auspicious symbols by which Buddha can be identified, like flowers, dancers, white elephants, tigers and altar accessories. 108 is an auspicious number in Buddhism. I came across this number also in Bhutan on this trip.
From Wat Pho I returned to the river and took the boat back to my starting point. It was a great way to see quite a bit of the city.
Food in the hotel was quite expensive, so I ate at one of the street-side food vendors. They have good food that is very inexpensive. It is the best way to get original Thai food.
After the second night I continued on to Kathmandu in Nepal. One disappointment in the hotel was the drinking water. The bell boy that brought me to my room said that the water was free. But when I checked out, they charged me for all but one of the bottles of water, each bottle cost $4.00!
On the return I spent one night in Bangkok, but didn't get to see anything. I arrived late afternoon and left VERY early in the morning.
All pictures are © Dr. Günther Eichhorn, unless otherwise noted.
From the Wikipedia entry for Wat Arun.
Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan, "Temple of Dawn", is a Buddhist temple (wat) in Bangkok Yai district, on the Thonburi west bank of the Chao Phraya River. The temple derives its name from the Hindu god Aruna, often personified as the radiations of the rising sun. Wat Arun is among the best known of Thailand's landmarks. The first light of the morning reflects off the surface of the temple with pearly iridescence. Although the temple had existed since at least the seventeenth century, its distinctive prang (spires) were built in the early nineteenth century during the reign of King Rama II.
From the Wikipedia entry for Wat Pho.
Wat Pho is a Buddhist temple complex in the Phra Nakhon District in Bangkok. It is on Rattanakosin Island, directly south of the Grand Palace. Known also as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, its official name is Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm Rajwaramahaviharn. The more commonly known name, Wat Pho, is a contraction of its older name Wat Photaram.
The temple is first on the list of six temples in Thailand classed as the highest grade of the first-class royal temples. It is associated with King Rama I who rebuilt the temple complex on an earlier temple site, and became his main temple where some of his ashes are enshrined. The temple was later expanded and extensively renovated by Rama III. The temple complex houses the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand, including a 46 m (151 ft) long reclining Buddha.
From the Wikipedia entry for Wat Suthat.
Wat Suthat Thepphawararam is a Buddhist temple in Bangkok. It is a royal temple of the first grade, one of ten such temples in Bangkok (23 in Thailand). Construction was begun by King Rama I in 1807. Further construction and decorations were carried out by King Rama II who helped carve the wooden doors, but the temple was not completed until the reign of King Rama III in 1847–1848. This temple contains the Buddha image Phra Sri Sakyamuni which has been moved from Sukhothai Province. At the lower terrace of the base, there are 28 Chinese pagodas which symbolize the 28 Buddhas born on this earth. Wat Suthat also contains Phra Buddha Trilokachet in the ubosot (ordination hall) and Phra Buddha Setthamuni in the Sala Kan Parian (meeting hall).
From the Wikipedia entry for the Grand Palace.
The Grand Palace is a complex of buildings at the heart of Bangkok. The palace has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam (and later Thailand) since 1782. The king, his court, and his royal government were based on the grounds of the palace until 1925. King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), resided at the Chitralada Royal Villa and his successor King Vajiralongkorn (Rama X) at the Amphorn Sathan Residential Hall, both in the Dusit Palace, but the Grand Palace is still used for official events. Several royal ceremonies and state functions are held within the walls of the palace every year. The palace is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Thailand.
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