Temples, Temples, and More Temples
So I have to say the Thai people are super nice. Everyone is very polite, always smiling, bowing, etc. Just very nice. I'm trying to speak a little Thai and have mastered hello (Swa-sdi) and thank you (cow coom krap). But even google translate got stuck on "volcanic zit", so I just walked into the pharmacy and pointed to my face. "Ah blemish" he says. No, a blemish is a small red bump, this thing is terra-forming my face. So the downside of looking so young is that I still break out. Yea me! Happy 50th! Ugh. But I digress.
So Monday AM, after working out while the Super Bowl was playing, I headed to the Wat Phra Kaek (WPK) and the Grand Palace. There's a BTS SkyTrain station just two blocks from my hotel, so I headed there and fought my way onto the train. It was packed, but two stops later, everyone got out and it was empty. Their train is one long train, not individual cars like our Metro, so you could literally roll a bowling ball down the entire length of the train. I got off at the river to transfer to the express boat system that shuttles people up and down the river. I love water transportation (Navy background, go figure) and it was cool to experience the city from this perspective. And the boat was packed. It's not just for tourists. Everyday Thais used it to get around also. And it was cheap. 15 baht = 43 cents.
WPK is also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and was the former home of the Thai king.
So I had purposely bought these really long, European looking shorts since all of the tour books said you had to have your knees covered to go into the temples. Well, as I (and the other THOUSANDS of people) approach the entrance to the compound, I get judged poorly. Nope. Not long enough. Now I think in most circumstances, I could have slipped by, but they are still officially morning the old king so they are super strict. So I got to borrow a pair of what could only be called balloon pants. Unfashionable and hot. What a combo. But it was worth it once I got inside the compound. The architecture was just amazing. And I loved the "yaksha's" which are Hindu ogres who watch over the compound. I also loved the "kinaree" which are golden half swan, half women creatures from Hindu-Buddhist mythology as well. I did make my way into the Emerald Buddha, but they wouldn't let you takes pictures inside the temple. Interestingly enough, the Emerald Buddha isn't made of emeralds. It's actually made of a type of jade. And it's actually not that big. But it was still cool. BTW, blistering hot and I'm drench in sweat. Yea! Now I'm in the provided pants and a linen shirt and while I like to complain (and I'm so good at it!), tens of thousands of Thais are still coming to KPW to pay their respects to the old king. And they are all dressed in black. All black. There's a special part of the compound that's only open to the mourners, so they have them staged in various areas so the other tourists can get through. But I just can't imagine wearing all black and then waiting hours to get through the compound. After a couple of hours wandering around KPW, I escaped and found a restaurant nearby which had AC. So score.
After lunch, I walked down to Wat Pho which is famous for it's 4m long reclining Buddha. I managed to slip through the clothing police this time! The reclining Buddha is cool, all in gold leaf of course, but it's hard to get a picture that shows the scale of it. It's really huge! Another amazing compound and oh so cool architecture. The really cool spires are called chedi. There are four of them meant to represent the first four kings of the Chakri dynasty. And I loved the various galleries of Buddhas. You've got the standing Buddhas, or you can have the sitting Buddhas. BTW, none of these Buddhas are fat. When did he get fat? I'll need to look into that.
After Wat Pho, I was tapped out. Plus I had been in the sun for a good 6 hours and I was just beat. So I hopped a water taxi and then transferred to the BTS SkyTrain to make it back to my hotel for some needed downtime. For dinner I went back to the gay street and had something so spicy I started to cry. Just not good. As I wandered back, I found a night market and sort of looked around and stumbled upon a red light district. While I like "Thigh Bar", I think "Super Pussy" wins for klassiest name. And yes they were offering different kinds of shows. And the guys trying to lure customers in didn't understand why I didn't want to come in. Pass. Hard pass.