Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bangkok - The City of Temples [Wat Phra Kaeo (Emerald Buddha), Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha), Wat Arun (Dawn), Wat Saket (Golden Mount) and Erawan Shrine]

FINALLY!! I visited this much touted city after so many Singaporeans have thronged it for their food, shopping and temples! And yes, i have quitted my job!!

Another FINALLY!!! Hahahaha.

Anyway, one thing about Bangkok, it is always temples, wats, temples, wats.. (Wat is the thai name for temple). I was so besieged by the numerous temples that seriously, unless it's some really different, great temple, every wat looked the same!

Of course, the first temple i saw was amazing, majestic, great, big ..... after that, same same same same, and unfortunately, i dunno enough Thai (written or spoken) to even vaguely understand what the temples are for! There are some great temples though; those that i will bring family and friends along the next time!!

A few things to note about temples in Thailand:

For the popular ones, there are always an entrance fee, ranging from 10-20 Baht (S$0.50-$1.00). You may squeeze some waiver if you can show that you are Thai, which is by either SPEAKING like one or LOOKING like one. If you are lucky enough to go in during some of the Thai holidays (like us), you get a full waiver too.

Secondly, out of respect, in temples like Wat Phra Kaeo (dun ever ever ask me to pronounce it), no sleeveless, no shorts, no slippers. Even if weather is shit out there, no exemption will be given.

An Acceptable Shoes (i think)

But Must Wear Covered Trousers or Pants or Anything to COVER the HAIRS!!
(The legs looked sexy right? They are mine)

Thirdly, there will always be WAYS for you to spend more money! Like buying coins to put into those alms bowls or stucking money onto a wooden lotus stick that you sticked into a styrofoam or buying bells where you write the names and blessings you wan. I dunno if it worked, but the optimistic mentality is telling me, no harm in trying? Haha.

The Alms Bowls Mentioned. You have to pay to get the cups of coins, of which you put one in every bowl. Total Bowls if im not wrong is around 100+

The Wooden Lotus Sticks. Notice the Notes fluttering! Lucky their 20 Bahts come in notes!

The Blessing Bells from the Three of Us

Lastly, you will always conincidentally meet some friendly locals in the temples who will tell you that gems in Thailand are really cheap and which temples are revered with Lucky Buddha and only opened once every month (or once every week, or once every year).

Being SKEPTICAL yet CURIOUS, we tried it out and i realised that those lucky temples that are supposedly opened so infrequently had only us as visitors, and those tuks tuks that sent us kept asking us to go to those wholesale gems shop or shirts shop so that they can get diesel coupons (or maybe commission). Until i got back to Singapore, i read that Thailand is famous for having fake gems or selling low quality gems even though they are one of the largest gems providers in the world. I sure hope that my zircon is of a good quality (it still shimmers brightly). Despite the above mentioned, just go and try it out if you have time!

Temples!

1) Wat Phra Kaeo (Emerald Buddha)Located within the grand palace, it is an fabulous place that is full of unique architecture. I personally did not know that there is a temple there until i went into e temple hall entrance itself where the Emerald Buddha is situated.

Unforunately, the hall is closed for renovations and i can only get a small glimpse of the statue, after much jostling. I am amazed that such a small statue can have the claim of being Thailand most sacred statue! Beside being the most revered in the country, its history is full of legends and first surfacing in 1434!

2) Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha)
I remember long time ago when every relative's trip to Thailand will come back with pictures of this half sleeping buddha and now i know why. Beside being the largest in Bangkok @35m long (the world largest is at Burma at 70m) , its feet are layered with mother of pearl! I have no idea how much mother of pearls cost but being the mother of pearls, it is like the equivalent of mother to me, and which in personal term, means priceless!!

3) Wat Arun (Dawn)
When i reached this temple via a 3 baht boat trip (S$0.15) and paying a 10 baht entrance fee, i am in awe. Seeing such a monumental historical temple (the temple is built more than 300 years ago, the main tower or prang was completed around 1851), the feeling exuded was of a peaceful mind, one that was at ease, without any worries.

4) Wat Saket (Golden Mount)
This temple is interesting, because it is situated on higher grounds and you have to work really hard to climb the 318 steps to reach the top. The view on top is worth the climb! You can have a 4 sided views of the city! It cannot be compared to the view at Baiyoke Tower but at least you pay lesser!

5) Erawan Shrine
I cannot finish this entry without paying a tribute to the ever popular Erawan Shrine (aka Four Faced Buddha). Even though Thailand is Buddhism based, many of its temples have influences from Hinduism. Erawan itself is a great example, because the Buddha is actually a Hindu God. Surprise Surprise. However, with so many wishes granted, it has been the top favourite place for Singaporeans to visit for luck. The location helps as well, since its at a crossroads and easily accessible from the shopping belts (another S'porean fav)

I shall talk about the other part of Bkk another time!! Ciao~~~~~~~~

GREAT SINGAPORE SALE IS COMING!!!

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