Ummmm wow. Just wow.
The toughest part of this post was in choosing which photos to use.
Anyways, this place is a Bangkok absolutely no excuses must see.
Also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, this is a huge, glittering, fairy tale like compound that positively glistens in the hot sun and invites me to use more adjectives and superlatives than I could normally be faffed using.
It has it all- mythical protective giants, gold domes, soaring mosaic lined pillars, Khmer inspired temples. And detail- everything is detailed and has a story.
Then there’s the murals that tell a long and complicated story about journeys and battles and triumph. You can’t miss the murals.
The jewel in the crown, so to speak, is the Emerald Buddha.
This is a little like finding the Mona Lisa in the Louvre- it’s a lot smaller than you’d think.
In fact, it’s so small that without my prescription lens, I really couldn’t see it amongst all the gilding and decoration. Given that there is no photography allowed in the temple, we bought the postcard instead.
Phra Kaew Morokot, to give him his official title, sits on top of a massively decorated and elevated altar (more is obviously more and never ever less) at the end of the massively huge (and yes, I know that’s repetitive, but seriously, the sheer size of this pace can’t be explained in any other way) temple.
Our guide made a big deal about telling us that he was clothed in his summer outfit- although, as I said, I couldn’t see clearly enough to comment on the sartorial elegance…or otherwise.
Apparently the Emerald Buddha has three outfits- one for each of the seasons (hot, cool and rainy). The King changes the robes himself.
As for the Grand Palace? After the ceremony of the temple, this is almost a disappointment…but only relatively speaking.
In general, these buildings are now only used for ceremonial purposes- and, in my case, photographic ones. I just love the little ball trees…
We caught a taxi from Siam Square. It cost around 100BHT to get there, but to come back taxi drivers on the perimeter quoted 400BHT. Some rubbish about how they couldn’t use the meter because of “traffic jams”.
We ended up negotiating with a tuk tuk for 200BHT.
Sure there was a lot of traffic around Siam because of Songkran, but I suspect that this is a relatively common scenario.
Alternatively, get the Skytrain to Saphin Taksin, and then a river ferry to Tha Chang. From here it’s about a 10-15 minute walk.
Admission is 350BHT and opening hours are 8.30am- 3.30pm. Allow about 2 hours to ooh and aah.
Just a thought…
Visit early to avoid the crowds. We were there in the early afternoon on the second day of Songkran. The crowds nearly did my head in.
And another one…
Grab yourself a guide inside the grounds. Make sure that your guide is certified (they’ll have proof). Expect to pay 200BHT a person, but it is worth it- these guys know heaps about everything you’ll be seeing and a lot more about Buddhism. Their English is pretty good too.
Alternatively, you can get an audio guide, but as it will cost pretty much the same, I’d be going for the real live person.
Make sure that your shoulders and knees are covered. They’re serious about this and will hire out trousers if you need them. Shoes should be covered or sandals with an ankle strap.