Friday, November 28, 2014

Bangkok, Thailand

The Grand Palace was built in 1782 and is made up of government offices, the royal residence, throne halls and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.  It covers 218,000 square metres!

The Emerald Buddha was carved in 1434 from a block of green jade and was found in a stupa in Chiang Rai.  Initiallly, it was covered in plaster but some plaster had flaked off the nose, revealing the green color.  The abbot who noticed this thought the 'green' was emerald, hence the name.  Today, this temple is one of the most venerated in all of Thailand-

The Buddha is very small and dressed in three diferent outfits throughout the year, depending on the season-

I really like the exterior of the bellfry. It's so ornate and colorful-

The Borom Phiman Mansion was built in western style in 1903.  Today, visiting heads of State and guests of Their Majesties stay here-

Interesting sculptures -

The colored parts are pieces of colored glass that shine in the sun-

They are super cool!

The Prasat Phra Thep Bidon, or Royal Pantheon, was built in 1855 to house the Emerald Buddha but was deemed too small-

More ornate glass stucco-

Phra Asada Maha Chedi (tower) is also known as the Eight Prangs. It's a dark blue which means it's dedicated to the universal monarchs.  A chedi is a pagoda with the base representing hell, the middle humanity and the top of course, nirvana.  Buddhists walk around the structure three times, wishing to be removed from hell via a whirlpool, to reach nirvana.

Interesting architecture and roof lines-

Later I went downtown on a city bus to Siam Center, a huge shopping area.  I came home in a tuk tuk.  The driver thought he was driving in the Grand Prix.  The traffic here is mental!

Everybody tries to rip you off.  They lie about where you want to go - no, it's closed they'll say, when it really isn't.  The taxi drivers won't use their meters because they want to over charge.  They won't take you where you want to go - they'll close their window in your face.  This is the first place on the trip that I've hated!  However, seeing it was my birthday and all....

My birthday cake-

and later.....

Eating scorpion with James, Jill and Matt - deep fried, very crispy and tough!

Later, we wanted to go to PatPong Market to see a sex show.

After negoiating a fair price, we headed off.  The tuktuk driver said the market itself wasn't open, just the pingpong shows.  He kept asking if we'd been there before, and I had, 20 years ago.  Eventually, he stopped at a place and said we'd arrived!  I knew it wasn't PatPong so we refused to get out.  There was some swearing and arguing but then he took us to PatPong and believe it or not, the market was open! At the first bar, it was supposed to be one free drink with the entry fee, however, once Inside, no free drink!  So, we left.  The second place was better.  Women, or maybe some were lady-boys, were dancing on the stage.  One at a time, they would do their tricks - shooting darts to break balloons suspended from the ceiling, writing notes, shooting ping pong balls and water at the clientele, smoking, etc. It was certainly a different kind of birthday!

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