With Nepal behind us, we arrived in big, bustling, Bangkok along with hot humid weather (but we weren’t complaining). Sylvie was having stomach issues perhaps due to plane food, so we laid low and rested for most of our 3-day stay there. We took care of errands such as catching up on laundry (almost all of our clothes needed to be washed), mailing out souvenirs back home (including Nepal yak scarves we couldn’t look at any more), and James wandered out one day and got a $3 haircut that was actually very good – it beat Super Cuts and Perfect Look hands-down for one fifth the price!
Above: James waiting for the skytrain sporting his new $3 haircut
We stayed in the Sukhumvit area of Bangkok, a nice and more subdued neighborhood, yet close to transportation such as the skytrain to connect with the main sites of the city. The anti-government protests were going on while we were there ,mainly aimed at the former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, but we did not witness any violence nor did it disrupt our stay in any way, other than going through a few barricades and getting our bags searched.
Above: one of the many protestor “tent cities” we saw all over Bangkok
Above: colorful tuk-tuk (local 3 wheeled taxi) waiting for customers
The only sightseeing we did while in Bangkok was the Grand Palace, and Wat Phra Kaew (or Temple of the Emerald Buddha). The palace has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam (and later Thailand) since 1782. The king, his court and his royal government were based on the grounds of the palace until 1925. The compound was huge and over the top ornate as you can see in the pictures below.
The boat let us off in a huge market that we had to snake our way through to reach the palace.
Above: at the market, we got a kick out of the woman eating her own food (must be good then)
Above and below: bare legs are forbidden in temples, so we had to borrow clothes at the entrance with a deposit
Above: cute little princesses getting bored with sight seeing, playing with a video recorder
The present monarch, King Bhumibol, currently resides at Chitralada Palace, but the Grand Palace is still used for official events. Thais by the way deeply respect and love their king who has been reigning for over 60 years (more than any other kings). Pictures of the king are enshrined in households and businesses and in billboard sizes in many streets of Thailand.
Wat Phra Kaew is regarded as the most sacred Buddhist temple (wat) in Thailand. The Emerald buddha that resides in the wat, a jade statue originally discovered in Chiang Rai in the mid fourteen century , is carved from a single stone in a meditating posture. Except for the Thai King, no other person is allowed to touch the statue which is believed to bring prosperity and protection over the country.
Above: Wat Phra Kaew
Above: the emerald buddha sits on the top of the heap and is 26 inches (66 centimetres) tall