Bangkok Day 2 (7 Nov 14) – A Wet Wet Day in the Land of Smiles

No visits to Bangkok is complete without visiting some of their temples. Thailand is largely a Buddhist country and the Thai temples are vibrantly decorated with bright red, yellow and gold themes. Mirrors are also used to brighten the facade of the temples There are a few iconic temples that we should not miss while in Bangkok. Wat Arun (the Temple of the Dawn), Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) and Wat Phrakaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) situated in the grounds of the Grand Palace are such icons that visitors should not give them a miss. We planned to visit two of such temples – Wat Pho and Wat Phrakaew as well as less famous Wat Saket (Temple of the Golden Mount). Our route for the day includes traveling by the BTS, by water and by land.

I love traveling on the BTS in Bangkok. Not only it is inexpensive, it is also the fastest way to move around the city, given its reputation for its all-day traffic jams. One is also able to avoid being ripped off by the cab drivers (well to be fair not all of them does that). Our first stop of the day is to visit Wat Pho. Getting to Wat Pho on the public transport include a trip on the BTS and transfer to the ferry on Chao Phraya River. A trip to Wat Pho would cost 20 Baht on the public ferry, the one that we mistakenly took costs 4 times that price. Little did I realise we were actually on the ferry meant for the tourists. The ticketing counter at the ferry stop is a tad misleading. They only sell tickets for the tourist ferry. A point to note, to get onboard the commuter ferry, one would have to purchase the tickets onboard and not at the counter. So skip the counter totally and ask the locals where to get a ferry towards Wat Pho. The journey upstream towards Wat Pho took around 20 mins, along the way, one is able to see how the locals used Chao Phraya River as a means for their daily livelihood. Several big chain hotels popped up along the river as on the higher floors, the hotel do offer a fantastic and almost zen like feel over the river. It is not hard for one to realise that one had arrived at the stop for Wat Pho. The iconic Wat Arun, a temple with a single building structure surrounded by 4 towers, is right across the river.

Wefie before boarding the BTS
Riding on the BTS 
Taking the river ferry towards Wat Pho
Scenes along Chao Phraya River
Scenes along Chao Phraya River
Leaving the pier
My friends on the river cruise
Posing on Chao Phraya River
Scenes along Chao Phraya River
Scenes along Chao Phraya River
Scenes along Chao Phraya River
Scenes along Chao Phraya River
Ferry drop off points
Scenes along Chao Phraya River
Wat Arun on opposite bank
Wat Arun
The pier we alighted the ferry

We alighted the ferry and made our way to Wat Pho. The walk from the ferry stop to the temple is just mere minutes. In the event that one is not too sure where to head towards after alighting the ferry, just follow the crowd of visitors as most of them are generally heading towards the same place. The entrance to Wat Pho is nothing grand nor it is glamourous. Behind the plain looking structure and temple walls, the temple ground opens up to a vastness of space and tranquility. While the scene outside the wall is one of bustling and full of life, the scene within the wall is one of peacefulness. We headed for the main temple, which houses the gigantic Reclining Buddha. The Buddha measuring a good 15m in height and 46m in length reclines in a “Lion Sleep”position. Female visitors in shorts and sleeves are required to don on a robe (available at the entrance to the Reclining Buddha building) as a mark of respect. The hordes of visitors did not seem to thin at the time of our visit. It is hard to get a shot of the Buddha without the other tourists in the background. Visitors come to this temple to marvel at the grandness of the largest Reclining Buddha statue, and in fact the largest Buddha statue in the whole of Thailand. The Buddha Statue is covered in gold plating and decorated with mother-of-pearl inlay on his eyes and the soles of his feet. There are a total of 108 auspicious symbols carved on the soles of the buddha statue. These 108 symbols are believed to have its origins from the ancient sculpture of Sri Lanka, spotted by the Brahmins on the soles of Prince Siddhartha (the man whom became buddha) 5 days he was born according to legend.

Entrance of Wat Pho
Inside the temple
The reclining Buddha
Peaceful and solemn Buddha
Reclining Buddha in Wat Pho
Reclining Buddha in Wat Pho
108 auspicious symbols laden with Mother of Pearl on the Buddha’s soles
Me in Wat Pho

One of the must-dos in this temple is the dropping of coins into the 108 bronze bowls. It is believed that it will bring good fortune for those who does that. There is a small counter for one to exchange their bills into small coins to be dropped along the length inside the temple. The dropping of coins is, after all voluntarily. I urged my friends to do so as it not only brings good karma, the sound created by dropping coins into these bronze bowls are rather therapeutic. My friends had a great time doing so anyways. After touring the Reclining Buddha, I brought my friends around the temple grounds to see the other parts of the temple, where most of the visitors would give it a miss. There is a place where one will spot about 400 Buddha statues, mostly in seated positions. Some of the statues are decked out in shiny gold paint, while others are more bronze looking. There is also another side temple where one can offer one’s prayers to the Buddha further into the temple grounds.

Surroundings of Wat Pho
Very colour and vivid architecture in the Thai Temples
300 Buddha Statues
300 Buddha Statues
Chinese elements in Wat Pho
My friends posing under the pagodas in Wat Pho
Shiny gold plated Buddha Statue
My friend posing with the statues
My friend posing with the statues
This is where we offered our prayers to the Buddha in Wat Pho
Getting our offerings for prayers
Offering our prayers to the Buddha in Wat Pho
Offering our prayers to the Buddha in Wat Pho
Serenity in Wat Pho
Around Wat Pho

Our next stop is the Grand Palace and Wat Phrakaew. One can make way there on foot from Wat Pho, which takes about 15 mins. The Grand Palace closes at 3pm, hence one would have to get there by 3pm to get the tickets into the Palace. When we reached the Palace grounds, we were rather put off by the crowds at the Palace entrance. The swarms of crowd, plus the humid weather are the deciding factor for us to give the Grand Palace a miss and headed for our next stop, Wat Saket.

Wat Saket is not far from the Grand Palace. The cab ride took us 10 mins to reach the temple. Half way through the cab ride, it started to pour cats and dogs. We were hoping that the rain would cease by the time we reach the base of the temple. However no such luck. The sky did not seem to be giving way to sunny weather. The cab dropped us at the front gate of Wat Saket. Wat Saket or Golden Mount Temple is situated on tope of a small hill. There was a small scale bazaar at the base of the temple, selling mostly food stuffs and clothing. My friends and I browsed through the bazaar (as there are canvas that offered us shelter from the rain) and headed towards the stairways that would lead us up to the temple. We climbed the 300 steps that led us to the temple for shelter from the rain. When we reached the temple, we saw numerous visitors hiding inside the temple for shelter. Most of us were waiting for the rain to stop before continuing our itinerary. As we were waiting, I brought my friends around the temple. My main focus of bringing them here is for the view. From the temple, one can look out into parts of Bangkok. As there are no high-rise buildings around the temple, we can look as far as downtown Bangkok and Thakksin Bridge from the temple. It is rather therapeutic to look out and enjoy the breeze on a sunny day at the temple. As we were walking around, we spotted a small staircase that seemed to lead upwards. As it was still raining, one other visitor told us the door up there was closed. We must have waiting for another hour or so, the rain finally gave into the sunny skies. As we were heading towards the staircase that would bring us down to the base of the temple, we walked past that inconspicuous staircase again. This time we saw people heading up the staircase and we followed suit. Little did we realise that narrow wooden staircase brought us to the roof top of the temple. I have been to Wat Saket a few times and this is the first time I came up here. From the roof top, the views into downtown Bangkok is event more stunting!! There are a few Buddha statues up at the roof top, surrounding the golden dome that distinct Wat Saket from most other temples in Bangkok. We stayed up at the roof for another 10 mins or so before heading down towards our next destination.

Start of the 300 steps ascent to Wat Saket
My friends waiting to get up to Wat Saket
My friend in Wat Saket
View from Wat Saket
We were all drenched
View from Wat Saket
Dome of Wat Saket on the roof level
Panoramic view from Wat Saket
Buddha statues on the roof of the temple
View from Wat Saket from the roof
Flooded bazaar at the base of Wat Saket
Having fun walking in the water

I am rather excited to bring my friends on the canal ferry, that most Bangkokers utilises to beat the horrid traffic jams in Bangkok. The fare onboard the ferry to central Bangkok did not cost much. The ferry ply through the canal at the back of Bangkok dwellers. For those who pay a lot of attention to hygiene, this mode of transport is perhaps not suitable for you. The foul smell (well it is still bearable to us) will probably turn one off. Nonetheless, my friends had a great time taking this form of transport, as this is the first time they ply through the canals of Bangkok on a ferry. We alighted at the Pratunam pier, which happens to be the interchange pier for this mode of transport. As we were walking out towards the main road, my friends immediately recognise Pratunam Mall, and this marks the beginning of our shopping trip in this area.

Taking the ferry towards Pratunam
The pier where we boarded the ferry
Onboard the ferry towards Pratunam
Onboard the ferry towards Pratunam
And we are leaving
Scenes along the canal
Someone’s backyard
Scenes along the canal

 

We were dry by the time we reached Pratunam

Pratunam Mall is the largest clothing mall in Bangkok. There are over 1000 stores here selling clothes here. There is bound to be something for everyone here. As the time we arrived was near closing time. My shopaholic friends had no choice but to browse through the shops and be very targeted at what they want to buy. For shopaholics, one can spend up to 1 full day here by just walking around once. My friends, who have been here previously, was commenting that the trick to shop at Pratunam is to buy the clothing when you see the one you like. It is like a maze inside here and don’t even hope that you will remember where the shop you last see the stuff you want. Moreover, the price seemed to be standardised from shop to shop, no point comparing prices. True enough, the mall (selling mostly clothes for ladies, out of the 7 storey building, only half of one storey is for guys!) is like a maze. I saw people practically dragging their luggage around the mall seemed like they are here for retail therapy. We stayed here till the malls are closed before heading back to our hotel to rest for the night. This is my first time to Pratunam area, and little did I realise it is actually located within walking distance from our hotel.

Shopping mall opposite the ferry pier in Pratunam

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s