11 Dec Sightseeing Bangkok
After picking up Randy from the airport; lazy day of putting his bike together and getting over jet-lag, we all take the train into the old part of Bangkok to do a little bit of sightseeing. Not only do we check out the Grand Palace and Wat Pho with its giant reclining golden Buddha and pleura of Stupas, we also decide to take a long-boat river tour through the canals of Bangkok and climb the steep steps of Wat Arun.
Of course, we also indulge in some local cuisine at the local market and take the craziest, fastest tuc-tuc ride back to the train station. Some things just have to be experienced in person because the excitement, the butterflies in the stomach, and the gut wrenching feeling about to flip in a tuc-tuc while zinging through traffic taking corners at max speed at night must be lived and can’t be told. It was the most exciting roller-coaster ride one can experience on flat surface and we laughed all the way through.
We only visited the Royal Grand Palace from the outside. To visit it’s premises though we had to wear long pants. Shorts and sleeveless top are not appreciated. To show respect to the Royalty, we had to put our “temple” pants over our shorts.
Wat Pho is one of the most important temples in Thailand. Not only is the temple complex huge, but it also features the biggest reclining Buddha in Thailand and about 1000 other Buddha images. Outside the temple, the grounds contain 91 Stupas, four viharas (halls) and a bot (central shrine). 71 Stupas of smaller size contains the ashes of the royal family, and 21 large ones contain the ashes of Buddha. The four Stupas are dedicated to the four Chakri kings.-Wikipedia
Since Wat Arun is on the other side of the river, we decide to hire a long boat to take us around the canals of Bangkok and to end the tour at the Wat. The river tour gave us a whole different view of the city. Some of the makeshift houses on stilts made us wonder whether anybody actually lives in them, they look tiny and ready to fall apart, yet there are clothes hanging up to dry and there are dishes at the porches. Other houses look big and new. We even encounter a few water monitors along our tour.
Wat Arun is quite impressive: with its mosaic facade made of a hodgepodge of clay, tiles and what looks like broken bowls and china it looks ancient. Also the steep steps up and down the very tall stupa take a little bit of muscle strength and are not for the faint of heart…well, at least not for anybody scared of heights. The stairs definitely made us wonder how little Asian monks used to climb them up and down a few hundred years ago.
Happy and satisfied with what we saw today we grab another bite to eat from the local market and get on the very refreshing tuc-tuc ride back to the train-station, to get back to our rooms. Tomorrow it’s off to another day of cycle touring.