Monday, May 7, 2012

The Big BKK

Welcome to Bangkok!

I landed in Bangkok groggy from jetlag, but found my friend Supy and his adorable aunt and uncle at the airport without a hitch. We headed back to their house to drop off my bag and then started right in on the city. My time in Bangkok was split up between the beginning and end of my trip, but all of it was jam packed--with temples, kings, boats, traffic, every means of transportation possible, 6:30 AM runs through to park (and communal hula-hooping sessions), markets, and lots and lots of eating!

Some highlights below:

{Wat Phra Kaew}

{The Emerald Buddha is Thailand's #1 Buddha image. This chapel is more or less the national, and royal, temple.}

{So much bling!} 

 {The temple complex was full of so many buildings you couldn't even take them all in} 

{Apparently Bangkok used to be connected almost exclusively by canals. Many of them still survive today.}

{Riding with the commuters and tourists to Wat Arun and Wat Pho}

{Wat Arun}

Supy's friend showed us around most of our last day and just happened to be a major history buff. He filled us in on a lot of the major points in Thai well as some of the more interesting (and controversial!) tidbits.

This temple was built back in the previous dynasty by King Taksin on the other side of the river from what would later be Bangkok. Originally it housed the Emerald Buddha which is now on the other side of the river in Wat Phra Kaew. There's lots of Indian influence in the style of the temple, and most of the tiles decorating the temple originally were from the bottom of Chinese ships. Apparently the china was dumped into the bottom of ships (along with lots of Chinese statues that dot the grounds) in order to balance the ships. One man's trash is another man's temple decoration. 

{You can climb up the tower (up big steep stairs!) and have a look at the city. Wat Phra Kaew is on the opposite side of the river.}

{The "Santa Clause" Buddha}

{And of course we couldn't leave Bangkok without seeing the "reclining Buddha" which stretches out to 160 feet at Wat Pho}

{The Wat Pho temple grounds were huge and included lots of stupas like these, which held the ashes of royals.}

Overall Bangkok was a huge, hot city--full of people, temples, interesting stories, and (even better) old friends. Not only did I find Supy and his old friend, I got to meet up with a good friend who was a foreign exchange student way back in my high school days. Pleasant surprises all around!

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