Bangkok Day 2 (19 Dec 09) – The Wats, Transports and Shopping Malls

Wat (temple) time! My first destination was Wat Pho. To get there from the hotel, I had to take the BTS and then changed to Chao Praya River Boat. Hopped onto the wrong BTS and end up having to return to the station I boarded to the BTS and changed to the right one (Remember Siam was THE interchange for BTS). What stroked me when I saw the locals taking BTS, the ALWAYS queue up and ALWAYS let people alight first. They also automatically go into the centre and not blocked at the door! The BTS and their MRT has different tickets, and there is no such thing as rebate for the Thai transport system. Their buses are still using the conventional conductor system. I guess this is a must given the traffic situation in Bangkok.

Waiting for BTS
Locals Queuing patiently for the BTS
Cruising down Chao Phraya River
Seem like full load today
Traditional Thai long boat
Sights along Chao Phraya River
Sights along Chao Phraya River
Sights along Chao Phraya River
Famous Wat Arun

Anyways getting back to my journey to Wat Pho, upon arriving at the pier, took the boat (only cost 13 baht). Got to my destination. Wat Pho is where the reclining Buddha resides.This temple is the oldest temple in Grung Thep, even older then the city itself! When I read about this, I had to visit it. The Buddha was indeed HUGE, occupying the whole of the main hall in the temple. The sole of the Buddha actually had some pictorials on it, and it was made of this thing they called “Mother of Pearls”. On the other side of the Buddha (its back) there was this lady preparing coins (not compulsory). Since I am already here, might as well do some good Karma (if there is any left in me). Gotten one of the buckets and started to distribute on the bowls by the window. Was quite fun though.

Entrance of Wat Phao
Inside Wat Phao
Inside Wat Phao
The largest reclining Buddha in Thailand
The largest reclining Buddha in Thailand
His sole is decorated with Mother of Pearl
Donation bowl for well wishers
Inside Wat Phao grounds
Inside Wat Phao grounds

After I left the temple, just outside it only, met this thai guy telling me that the Grand Palace is close until 1pm(my next destination). So he suggested me to hop onto one of the tuk-tuks outside the temple, which will bring me to this “lucky Buddha, Golden mount” place. Then it stroke me that something I read from the guide books (well it pays to do some homework and read a lot before you embarked on a journey) – if anyone approaches you and say something is closed, it is most likely a scam trying to get tourists to board the tuk-tuks! Once you fall into the trap there is not return! So I rejected the guy and headed for Grand Palace anyways. As accurate the guide book was, the Grand Palace was not closed.

The Grand Palace – a place I always din managed to visit despite me having came to Bangkok for the past 4 times. The Palace covers a total of 218,000 sq metres, and is surrounded by 4 walls. This is the place that housed not only the royalties (in the past), and also the site of some administrative offices. The palace was roughly divided into 9 segments. The palace was huge, there are some areas which opened for visitors visit, there are also some parts which can only be accessed by the royalties. The whole palace just felt like a touristy place, maybe partially due to the massive influx of tourists! However there are a few museums within the palace itself. There are actually 2 weapon museums, showcasing the weapons both sword and guns used by the Thais. There is also a coin and decoration museum, displaying the crowns, badges, and some royalty utensils and of course the royal swords. There is also a museum that displayed parts of the constructions of the palace and how it was built. I guess the most import part of the palace is not where the throne of the king is, but where the emerald Buddha is! The way this Buddha was discovered was out of this world. Legend has it that a monk accidentally saw the plaster on the Buddha’s nose flaked off, thus revealing the emerald Buddha in 1434. This has sparked the whole country at that time to chip off the plasters of all the Buddhas in hope to find more treasured images. This Buddha was believed to be the treasure of Thailand, so much so that every change of season, the king must redress the Buddha personally! After browsing through a number of museums within the palace, I was wanting to get out of it… man I was lost for a moment. Finally found the exit and I headed to the bus stop to my next destination – Golden Mount.


Statue of Thai Buddha in The Grand Palace
Vibrant architecture in the Grand Palace
Local Students listening attentively to the monk
Scene outside the Grand Palace
Buildings inside the Grand Palace
Vibrant architecture in the Grand Palace
These temples are dressed in bring red, gold colours
Simply love the Thai architecture
This temple reminds me of Ang Kor Wat in Cambodia
Thai Temple from another angle
The building in The Grand Palace where the famous Emerald Buddha is housed in
Glittering Thai temples in the Grand Palace
Very vibrant architecture
Reminds me of Disneyland
Government building in the Grand Palace

Well wanting to take a bus was on my to-do list this time round. Boarded the bus 44, and was on my way to my next destination. The conductor on the bus reminded me of the days when we have conductors on buses in Singapore. This conductor was very helpful, she reminded passengers who asked her about the route to alight the bus at the appropriate bus stop. . The afternoon was hot and the aircon was barely helping. When the conductor saw the aircon was not directly blowing me, she adjusted the blower for me. How nice! Something I felt was lost in our buses back at home. Finally after the jams through the roads, I reached Golden Mount. Golden Mount was boasted as the tallest temple in Grung Thep. From the temple, one can see as far as Wat Arun and Grand Palace! Was breezy up at the Golden Mount and the view was magnificent. However it was best visited at night where the lights lite up the temple to give it a different personality. Well where got time to come back at night man….. so pass….. originally I wanted to visit one of the other temple that is just right across the street…. But laziness caught up to me, and I thought I have enough of wats for the day. So I decided to head back to hotel, relax abit (the afternoon was rather sunny, thought of going for a swim).

Fortress looking building nearby Golden Mount Temple
View of Golden Mount temple from its base
These bells can be seen on the way up
View of the surroundings inside Golden Mount Temple
View of the surroundings inside Golden Mount Temple
View of the surroundings inside Golden Mount Temple
Stairways leading up to the temple

What best way and faster way to get back to downtown bangkok then to take a ride on one of the Khlongs. Spoke to one of the locals and she advised me against it, as the long-gaos are smelly and she also said the ride is uncomfortable. Well decided to go against her advise anyways, it was an interesting ride. The ride takes about 15 mins to reach my destination (could have taken much much more if I go via bus). At some parts of the long-gao, where the bridge was too low for the canopy of the boat, the khlong conductors will lower the canopy slightly in order to pass under these bridges, what an interesting and refreshing sight! After alighting the khlong (in fact I am glad I took the khlong ride), I headed back to siam square again. This time round there seem to be more things to see then when I visited it yesterday! I realised that Siam square is a place where you have to go to the ulu places to discover things to buy, as most of the stuffs are hidden away from the main road and rather out of sight too. Got myself some t-shirts and in all only cost me 1100 bahts (around SGD45). Look at the time, almost evening and the sun is almost setting, so I decided to head back to the hotel (right round the corner anyways). I passed by some hair salons, so I decided to get my hair cut (mine was abit long anyways). Got a good haircut with hair wash for only 350 baht (around SGD14), something like that would cost at least SGD30! The lady washing my hair even gave me a good massage (Seriously that got rid of the stiff neck I have been having for the past few days). Anyway back to the hotel, wanted to go for a swim but looking at the time, almost time for dinner. Went to eat some phad thai round the corner, and headed for Suan Lam, my next destination.

Riding the Khlong
A very old movie theater
Walking around Siam Square (again)
Siam Square is where lots of Thai youngsters hang out
Sunset from the deck of my room
Christmas is in the air at Siam Paragon 
Christmas is in the air at Siam Paragon
Christmas is in the air at Siam Paragon
Siam Paragon
Siam BTS interchange station

Getting to Suam Lam was a breeze with the BTS and MRT. Everytime I was on their trains, it never fail to impress me with the ethics the Thais were taught since young I guess, they never complained if they din know when the train was coming, they queued orderly at while awaiting to board the train, and they did not complain even though they have to pass by metal detecters at every MRT station. I guess this is where we see the “Jai yen” (cool heartedness) of the locals. Got to Suam Lam, din really last me more then 30 mins. The whole place was “meh”…… nothing really much to see, seemed like they have the stuff elsewhere in Siam square as well. Frankly, it was boring as hell, but a word of advise if u wanna visit it, to get the best bargains go at around 6.30pm local time. This timing is significant as the shops just opened for business, and the thais believed that they have to make the first deal for the day if not they would not have business throughout the day. So they would normally sell at rock bottom prices if you happened to be their first customer. They might even go at cost price and at time even rather make a lost to uphold this believe then to let a customer go. After paying the shop keepers, you can see they will use the money you paid them and tapped all over their shop, as they believed this will bring them more business for the day (and in this case, night). Headed back to hotel and rest for the night after Suam Lam.. tommorrow gotta wake up really early to catch the first train out of Grung Thep towards Ayutthaya……

Soaking in the Christmas atmosphere around Siam
Soaking in the Christmas atmosphere around Siam
Suan Lum Night market
Suan Lum Night market
Suan Lum Night market
The MRT Station near Suan Lum Night market
Inside the MRT

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