Saturday, February 25, 2012

Temple Time!

One of the things I looked forward to the most on this trip is to learn more about the culture and history of Thailand.  The last two weekends did not disappoint. We have visited many temples, both current and old.

We were informed in advanced that during today's tours we should plan to wear pants and shoes that are easy to get on and off.  Certain temples do not allow excessive skin showing as a sign of respect and wearing shoes is forbidden.  Much of the custom in Thailand (and other Asian countries) is to take your shoes off before entering certain structures; however, we've only encountered the temples so far.  The hotel staff will take their shoes off before entering my room.

I wore my Merril shoes that do not have laces and blue jeans.  It was going to be a hot day with the jeans, but worth it.

February 12, 2012

Grand Palace
This was the residence of the previous kings of Thailand since 1782; however, the current king does not live here but they still have official events at the balance.  It is a very very large complex with massive buildings and temples.  This is also home of the Emerald Buddha, which has been the reason for 3 wars since it's existence.

The entrance area of the Grand Palace
The cost to enter the Grand Palace was 400 baht, or roughly $13.

Throughout the Grand Palace there were very long murals that depicted scenes from Buddhist and Hindu mythology.

These statures were actually used as ballast on ships trading with China.  Seems kind of fancy ship materials!

The Emerald Buddha.  Photos are prohibited inside the temple, so this is from afar.  The Buddha has different gowns placed on him based on the seasons.

Scenes from the mural  He is actually protecting the people.  Not eating them.

One of the Royal cars.

One of the large structures within the Grand Palace.  It's mostly in European style except for the roof, which is traditional Thai.  The king will come out out the top floor to speak to the people.

This is another Royal vehicles.  You can tell because of the three Thai letters on the license plate (normally there are two).  I snapped this as it drove by.  I just thought it was kind of funny being a Chevrolet.

After the Grand Palace we went over to a market where our tour guides (fellow Thai associates) ordered some Thai-fare for us:

A lot of pork, chicken, shrimp, and some pork-stuffed squid.  Yes, I tried it.

Wat Rakung
After lunch we hopped on a boat to cross the Chao Phraya River to visit Wat Rakung.  It was a short stop but there were a lot of bells, as well as an image of a Buddha.

Full disclosure: I might not have taken this photo at Wat Rakung.


We may have been here for 30 minutes.  One of the neatest temples was next:

Wat Pho
Wat Pho is the Temple of the Reclining Buddha.  It is one temple that I know I've seen before in books when I was younger.  I was pretty excited to see this one.  This Buddha is absolutely massive.  I would love to know how it was constructed and what kind of material.

There are 108 bowls that people place coins into that is thought to bring good fortunate.  It was really neat hearing people drop coins into these as it reverberated inside the large temple building.  It was actually pretty soothing.

Wat Pho is also home to the original Thai massage.  There are buildings that act as a book for how to perform the Thai massage.  We actually did not get massages while there.  In addition the the building with photos and inscriptions of the Thai massage, there were statues depicting yoga positions:

Wat Traimit
This is the Temple of the Golden Buddha.  We took a taxi from Wat Pho to Wat Traimit.  This temple was one of the near temples but that's only because it was built about 60 years ago to replace an existing structure.  Interestingly, this solid gold Buddha was covered in plaster within the last 250 years to keep it from being stolen and/or to protect it from the Burmese in 1760s.  That had been forgotten until the new temple was constructed when it fell during installment in the new template.  The plaster was cracked and the gold Buddha was discovered.  Very neat!

 I really should have bought a wide angle lens before coming to Thailand.

Yep.  I was there!
After the Golden Buddha, we decided it was time to head over to dinner by the Thewet pier stop on Chao Phraya river.  It was north of the Wat Rakung that we had visited earlier. Transportation was a definite must and we had a hard time getting a taxi to take us (not sure why, close to shift change?)  So thus started our first Thuk Thuk ride.  This is a three wheeled vehicle with a bench on the back to take passengers to their destination.

From the middle of the bench.  I felt safe with Peter and Toom on either side to keep me in.

It really wasn't scary.  Kind of fun!
Picture of a thuk thuk.
Stolen from  I'll replace it when I snag of photo of my own.

There was a lot more food served.  Once again, it was all delicious!

We were waiting for the sunset but due to the clouds, it wasn't really cooperating! Still very pretty!

It was a great day that started around 9am and ended close to 7pm.  Thanks to our wonderful tour guides for taking care of us for the day!

Por, Jingjo, Toom, and Pom!
All of these associates work in the Development team with me.

February 18, 2012 - Ayutthaya
After our second week of work, we were treated to another fun day visiting temples with another department.  This time we visited the "old city" of Ayutthaya, Thailand.  Ayutthaya was basically the previous capitol of Thailand.  During a war with Burma in 1765, Ayutthaya was seized and burned by the Burmese.  Many of the art and history was destroyed during this time period, as well as buildings and temples.  What we saw was basically ruined but many of the bricks and stones were actually transported to the new Grand Palace to help construct its buildings (according to Wikipedia).

The day started fairly early at 8am by meeting our tour guides of more Thai associates in the office.  They charted a van to take us the hour long ride to Ayutthaya.

Left to Right: Sam, Esteb, Weep, Peter, Kate, Net

Left to Right: Mai, I-Tim, Esteb, Sam, Weep

For those who followed the news in October 2011, you'll remember that Bangkok had horrible flooding and the dark part of this fence shows the flooding line.  Yeah, it was pretty bad.  Pretty much everything we saw today was under a couple feet of water at one point, if not more.

Bang Pa-in Palace
A palace complex built in the 17th century that is occasionally used today by the king.  It contains a many buildings used by the previous kings.

Remember that I mentioned that it was disrespectful to show a lot of skin at some of the temples and buildings?  Fortunately, for men you were ok wearing shorts at this temple as long as it covered your knees.  This saved me from borrowing some attire at the palace entrance like Net and Weep:

Oh fun.  Weep didn't really take to the "stylish" plaid.

I think all tourist places need this type of transportation available.

Think it would go well at Disney World?

Some photos from the Palace:

I believe Peter coined this as "Land Whale".
I'm so bad.

Wonder if Brodie would like this as a fellow pet at home?

Across the Chao Phraya River we visited some temples and buildings that were more in the European architecture.

Crossing the river.

A Cannon Ball Tree blossom.  Looks like it could eat you.

Needed a wide angle lens.

After the Palace, our friends took us to a riverside restaurant.  

Bananas in coconut milk

With a full stomach, it was time to ride an elephant!  We went to a place connected to the temple ruins where you could watch an elephant show, feed the elephants, and ride the elephants!

This white elephant is apparently very rare.

Happy Elephant!
Immediately after this photo, the elephant mugged me for cash so I could get my camera back.  Funny, elephant.  Funny.

I took some video of the elephant show:

We then went to visit three temples that were destroyed as part of the war with Burma

Wat Phra Si Sanphet

Esteb decided that's about as high as necessary.


A temple had been constructed near the site of the ruins

Wat Maha That
Another temple area that had been destroyed but in this area there were some Buddha images that were still standing, even if it was just a partial statue.
A famous image of Thailand.  The head of a buddha image was placed in this location and tree roots have grown around it.  Very neat.

Some of the ruined with Buddha images.
Wat Chaiwataran
We had to drive a little bit to get to this temple ruins and it was very neat and one of the most impressive of the day.  Due to the flooding we could not walk through and see the ruins up close, which was a shame.  The main temple buildings was open so that you could actually go inside.

The temple was right next to the river, so we sat near the shore for a while to relax before heading over to dinner.

The temple before the war.

Trying to be artistic.  A bit dark.
I didn't grab a lot of photos from dinner, but here are a couple to look over:



We made it back to Bangkok around 7:30pm or so.  It was a long and wonderful day.  Our tour guides were absolutely wonderful and patient with us (ok, maybe not Weep... he kept us on time!).    There are probably 600 photos from everyone on Facebook but you can find all my photos from the day on my Flickr stream.

Flickr Stream
Grand Palace and Temples

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