Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Playing Tourist

We returned from Koh Chang on Monday (January 7th), and, shortly after dinner, food poisoning reared its ugly head in our home. Christopher was the first (and sickest) victim, Kevin was next in line and Jim finally succumbed Tuesday morning. The only thing we could think of that all of the boys and none of the girls had eaten was the gelato after dinner on Sunday. Unfortunately, Kevin had to leave early Tuesday morning for the U.S. It was not a great flight for him but somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, he felt like he could at least eat and drink something. It was a couple of days before they all began to feel like normal.

Wednesday morning, Jim, Jan and I went downtown to visit the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and the Jim Thompson House. Although Jim still wasn't feeling 100%, these are iconic sites in Bangkok and I had to show Jim & Jan something other than MBK!

From 1782 until 1925, the Grand Palace was the official residence of the Kings of Thailand. It is still used for official events and several royal ceremonies and state functions are held there every year. The Palace is 2,351,000 sf and is surrounded by four walls. It is located in the western part of Bangkok on the bank of the Chao Phraya River. 
The Grand Palace is made up of numerous buildings, halls and pavilions set around open lawns, gardens and courtyards. Several royal offices are still located within the Palace but it is open to the public and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Thailand. 

Over the years, additions and re-buildings have given the Palace a very eclectic look. There  seems to be no rhyme or reason as to where new buildings were constructed - it looks like they were just built anywhere there was enough space. Walking into the Palace area was a bit overwhelming and I think we all had sensory overload for a few minutes. There are so many buildings, one on top of the other, and they are all elaborately painted and detailed. It was hard to choose which way to go and what to look at first. So much gold and sparkle and so many beautiful colors and interestingly designed buildings...
Just an FYI for anyone who might want to visit the Grand Palace...There is a strict dress code in place at the Palace. Appropriate dress is required - only long pants, no short skirts, shoulders must be covered, no sheer clothing, etc. Jan and I carefully read the code and planned our outfits accordingly. However, although I wore a wrap over the top of my sleeveless dress, I was still in violation of the dress code and was made to rent that lovely shirt to wear. Yes, I paid money to wear that shirt. I was a little annoyed because, even in violation of the dress code, I still looked much better than most of the dress code compliant people. Oh well, rules are rules... but it was very interesting to see how people interpreted "appropriate dress". Jan and I were surprised to find out that the dress code did not prohibit flip flops (which to me are the ultimate in casual wear) or sandals. I did wear closed toe flats which was probably the first time since we moved here that I wore something other than flip flops, sandals or running shoes. 

Many of the buildings had such elaborately decorated spires - they looked like tiered wedding cakes! 
The Giant Guardians. 

I think this was the building where the Emerald Buddha was displayed. You can read more about the Emerald Buddha here. My only comment about the Emerald Buddha was that it was  much smaller than I expected. In all of the temples that we have visited in Thailand, the Buddha figures are very large (at least 4 meters tall) and I just assumed the Emerald Buddha would be the same. 


The intricate details and the colors of the paintings and the mosaics were incredible.
A closer look at the mosaic detail. 
 This is a ceiling!
 Detail at the base of one of the buildings.

 Another beautiful ceiling.
A beautiful mural was painted on an interior wall that surrounded the Palace. 
 The mural went on and on and on...

Some of the figures and scenes from the mural...
I am going to stop here and write another post about our visit to Wat Pho and the Jim Thompson House later this morning. 

Have a great Wednesday!

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