Sunday, March 11, 2012

Bangkok: Wats

The past few days have been exhilarating yet exhausting. I'll try to type less and just let the pictures do the talking. On Friday we went to Wat Phra Kaew, a Buddhist temple and palace complex considered the holiest place in Thailand. (Think Temple Square for Utah...). Before we went in we got on a longtail boat that took us all around the canals and to see another wat, Wat Arun.

Wat Arun from the boat. We got off and climbed this wat. A rather strenuous climb... Strenuous enough that about where I'm standing in this picture (this was on the way up) my leg decided it didn't like me on the way down. It felt like my entire left thigh had a charlie horse. That quickly disappeared an then it just felt tight. I wasn't sure what had happened but thought I just over-exerted it and had a lactic acid build up. After a few minutes it felt fine.
The wat was ornate and beautiful, covered in colorful porcelain and actually moved from the other side of the river by King Rama I. 

We honestly didn't mean to get the random Buddha head in this picture but it works.

View from the wat looking over Chao Phraya River.

We then got back on the boat and went around the canals until we came back to Wat Phra Kaew. By this time Casey was experiencing some heat stroke so we sat down and slowly wandered through any shaded area while consuming copious amounts of liquid and mango.

The canals were gross but unique and truly showed a side of Bangkok not visible from anywhere else. Some houses were nice with gated communities and speed boats. Others were mere huts two feet above the water. It was interesting to see some one so wealthy living next to such squander, though. We would not see that in America. The longtail terrified me whenever it turned. I closed my eyes and told myself I can swim well, no matter how filthy the water is. Hopefully this video works. It doesn't look awful but I thought I'd be in the water any second.

Anyways, back to Wat Phra Kaew. Casey's overheating (despite the amounts of human antifreeze we put in him), the sun is out (it was supposed to be overcast), and I'm sweating so much that I don't have to go to the bathroom despite the 2 liters of water I've drank. I'll just bombard you with photos. :)

The picture below is right before we went in to the actual wat that houses the Emerald Buddha (which is really jade...). It has a huge history of theft and prestige but is considered very holy. No pictures are allowed to be taken inside but you are asked to kneel or sit down. Many people were praying, bowing, or worshiping. It reminded me that every religion has a truth. Buddhism teaches about light-about doing good and receiving good in return. There was a certain spirit there that I think would be in any place where something is so revered. 

The temple itself is very ornate. I thought of the Baroque period and wondered if they were influenced by this style as the western world was meeting up with the east at this time.

Below is Casey taking one of the breaks we so desperately needed.

There were these statue guys all over that reminded us of the third "Pirates of the Caribbean," dudes on the ship that are half fish. 

This is one of the palaces. The royal family use to live here but moved when they realized it was more beneficial as a tourist place.

One of the guards (like the Buckingham Palace guys) who Casey tried to get to laugh. Apparently he did last time he was here. I can't imagine standing in that full clothing in this heat! We had to wear pants or skirts to our ankles and closed toed shoes. I'll admit it bothered me when others tried to be disrespectful and get away with immodest clothes. I don't care if someone is immodest but when a tourist comes to a sacred place and is asked to respectful then they should be.

This was a small side garden we found with a cat (there all over) who was drinking, or possibly fishing, from one of the small ponds.

After this wat (we spent a few hours there) we came back in a taxi (at least to the end of the MRT line) and collapsed at the hotel. The ride in the taxi took 45 minutes and that was when the heat stroke hit me. I was nauseous and couldn't cool off. We got mildly burned but the funny thing was Casey's forehead where his hair covered!

I'll try to post once more before we leave tomorrow morning for Trang (yay beaches!). The next place we went has been my favorite so it might deserve an entire post. :)

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