Bangkok is bordered by the Chao Phraya river and has lots of little canals as well. The canals all seem to be brown. People used to get around by boat a lot here, and they still take the river taxis frequently. We’ve been taking the long motorized taxis up and down the river quite a bit, and they sure beat the four wheel kind. The air on the river is cool and refreshing, and between the boats and super modern skytrain, you can get to a lot of destinations.
We took the river taxi to the Grand Palace the other day. The Grand Palace is a compound built in 1782, and it’s where the royal family still lives. It’s a jewel-encrusted wonderland of temples, tall roofs, serpentine forms, glittering mosaics, fantastical part-human/part-animal carvings, and gold-leaf.
There were quite a few visitors when we went, and it was sweltering out, but that made the gold gleam even more. It’s a surreal landscape of buildings covered in jewel-like tiles; every surface is adorned, and many buildings and forms create myriad vistas. We entered the temple of the Emerald Buddha, where cameras weren’t allowed. The interior is truly baroque (as is, frankly, the whole complex). It’s kind of indescribable, but I do remember layers of gold details around the Buddha, and large detailed paintings on the walls. The Buddha had golden clothing and adornments which are changed with the seasons. Many Thais were sitting on the ground in prayer before the Buddha.
After wandering around the Palace grounds, we went to Wat Po, with the Reclining Buddha. I had no idea how huge, gorgeous and grand the Buddha would be. It is, indeed, reclining, and I’d estimate it’s two stories tall and six stories long. It’s completely golden and gleaming — covered in millions of squares of gold leaf. And it has that serene expression of Thai Buddhas.
We walked all around it, mingling with other tourists, and many worshipers.
After a particularly hot and steamy day of sightseeing, we went for a massage at the Wat Po Massage School. It was an excellent Thai massage in our inexpert estimation.