Sunday, January 2, 2011

Buddha & Bangkok (Part 2)

On to the second part of the Bangkok photos. As I mentioned earlier, it was quite hot, so we tried to stay in the shady parts and look around there.

I think there would be probably a hundred of these statues all around the temple. Some of them were covered in plastic due to renovations, I noticed they have little number plaques on the base. I'm not sure if that's for the temple staff or if each statue has a particular significance.

In this hall of Buddhas I noticed that they use energy-efficient lightbulbs! :)

The outsides of the buildings had lots of tiles and mirrors on them, it really was quite pretty and almost blinding at times in the bright sun. The photos really don't do it justice.

Eventually after leaving our shoes, we made our way into the hall where the Reclining Buddha rests. It was a nice cool change from outside. As you go in you can hear a repetitive metallic clinking noise, along with the variety of tones of voice of people all speaking in different languages. As I walked along I could get glimpses of the Buddha through the columns holding up the roof.

This is one of the Buddha's feet. All over the soles of the feet are inscriptions & pictures, sadly my picture of this didn't turn out very well. As we rounded the other side of the Buddha, I saw a long line of metal pots on stands lining the walls. These were the source of the clinking noise I mentioned before. Visitors were holding small bowls of coins and walking along the line of pots, dropping coins in until they got to the end.

There wasn't really any explanation of this, but I guessed maybe it's something similar to doing a rosary where each coin is meant to be a prayer or maybe a nice thought. The noises I thought were maybe to bring luck or some such thing. Anyway, I decided to get a coin bowl (20baht) and walk along the line. As I dropped my coins I was trying to think a nice thought for each one, or for something I wanted to do or achieve in the next year. As I neared the end, I saw I sttill had plenty more coins, so started putting in a few at a time instead of one. I found the clinking noise as I dropped the coins strangely satisfying =D

On our way out of the Buddha hall, I spotted this sign, warning about pickpockets operating in the temple grounds.

It's amusing how they stress it's "non-Thai" pickpockets. I guess they want us to know that good Thai people are not pickpockets :p

Found this cat taking a nap in a potted tree in the temple grounds. He looked very relaxed, and doing what I wanted to be doing that afternoon- having a nice sleep! We made a quick stop at the gift shop to buy some postcards before making our way outside to find a taxi. It was too hot and we were too tired to continue on to the Grand Palace.

Outside the temple walls were some merchants selling souvenirs. I didn't really want anything but did notice these little brass bells (with the pink ribbon attached, above) and decided to get one. I always hate bargaining and I know the Thai sellers are less aggressive than elsewhere in Asia, still I thought 450baht was a bit much for the smallest size of bell. In the end I was about to cave and offer the lady her best price of 150 when she said she'd take 100. Win! If only I had a window that opens, so I could hear it ring! It's hanging on the wall next to my desk.

We hailed a taxi only to find that the driver was pretending not to know which hotel we wanted to go to, said the traffic was very busy and wanted to go off-meter and negotiate a price. The one he quoted was way too high, I smelt a scam so we got out and instead walked back through another small market, on our way to the boat pier at the stop before the one we had disembarked from.

After a slight detour around yet another stinky fish-section, we spotted this cool guy making juice from dragonfruit.

He was really nice and very jolly, we nicknamed him the Hippie Juice Guy. I do wonder if he was Thai or from somewhere else, as he had a different demeanor than the rest of the local people, maybe one of his parents is from somewhere else.

Anyway, he happily gave us our juice, told us all about the benefits of the fruit and was very careful to mention that he uses no water or ice, only the juice and it's very good for you with lots of antioxidants and fibre. I thought the colour of the juice was really cool. He told us this jucie is "happy and the colour of love" Awww! Hahaha, anyway, I will definitely go back if I''m in the area again to visit the Grand Palace. I liked the juice, and I was happy that the fruit was tasty as well as looking good, unlike some other cool-looking fruits which taste gross.

We took the boat back to our starting point, then walked to the hotel.

Hungry, we went to a nearby restaurant for a nice lunch, before returning to the hotel for a nap before the flight back to Dubai. Instead of my usual pizza or fish cakes, I tried the mozzarella, tomato and basil along with some garlic bread which was very tasty. Yum!!

The flight back was uneventful, with it being about 2/3 full in economy. I even got to play in business class for awhile after we had finished our service in economy. The cockpit crew were cool enough to let me sit in the cockpit for landing, sadly it being nighttime it was impossible to take photos, but I saw Burj Khalifa very clearly and even my apartment building!! :)

I'm heading back to Bangkok later in January, so hopefully I'll be able to get back and see the Grand Palace.

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