Tuesday, November 20, 2007

More Bang(kok) for the Buck

Tower on Chao Phraya Riverfront

Yesterday I did a quick tour of Bangkok with the primary objective of taking in a few Buddhas. There certainly is no shortage here. My first port of call was the Grand Palace which I got to by public water bus. The waterfront scenery was diverse ranging from the prestige skyscrapers of multi-national corporations, historic temples through to corrugated iron shacks. The water of the Chao Phraya river is invariably an opaque brown. I don’t want to think why!

Orange robed Buddhist monks at the Thai Grand Palace

On arrival at the palace I made a plan to visit three sites of interest (all Buddha of various shapes and sizes) and negotiated the hire of a Tuk Tuk a three wheeled motorscooter for the princely sum of 30 Thai Baht ($1.00) –and this for two hours of transportation entertainment. A bargain if ever there was one! I’ll elaborate more on that in my next post. Anyway I survived the trip (just) and observed some spectacular architecture and astonishingly beautiful Buddha. Apart from the Tuk Tuk adventure I felt curiously peaceful by the end of the afternoon. Curious.

Part of the Grand Palace

Emerald Buddha
The Emerald Buddha

As a side note, my first reaction on seeing soldiers marching around the Palace with shouldered rifles was to think that this was a bit incongruous with the peace and tranquility theme. Then I noticed that the weapons contained no magazines/bullets and were thus only symbolic. A nice gesture in this day and age.

Soldiers marching
Guard at the Grand Palace: the guns are not loaded

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