Today was our first official day in Thailand!! We dedicated the day to hitting the sites in Bangkok. First, let me start out by saying that it is SWELTERING!! While it’s only about 80ish degrees outside, the humidity really does ya in! With that being said, we fit in a boat tour of Bangkok’s famous klongs (canals), walked around Wat Pho, and ended the day at the Grand Palace before hopping on a night train to Chiang Mai.
The boat tour was a great way to learn a very introductory history of Bangkok. It was neat to get to see the various houses and businesses that are built right on the edge of the canals. Before cars and motorbikes, these canals were the main way to get around Bangkok.
The boat dropped us off a few blocks from Wat Pho. On the way, we tried some lotus seeds – which tasted like a strange nut. When we arrived at Wat Pho, we went straight in to see the giant reclining Buddha. It’s a statue in gold leaf that is 15m tall by 46m long. This was one of those crazy moments, where it was very surreal to see something in person that you’ve seen a ton of photos of previously. I learned very quickly that Thailand has a thing for spectacles! No matter how many photos exist, nothing can properly capture the ornate beauty. This is a reoccurring theme on this trip…
After visiting the reclining Buddha, we ventured around the rest of the Wat Pho complex. It started to rain, which was much appreciated, as it cooled us all down for a small while.
We also stopped by the Royal Temple, which was equally as ornate as the rest. What was really neat was that it seemed to be an elderly woman’s birthday, as there was some sort of prayer ceremony that was happening inside. Given that it was the “Royal” Temple, our CEO (guide), Ben, inferred that the woman must be some relatives of the royals.
Luckily at this point, it stopped raining! We very happily grabbed some lunch around the area before heading to the Grand Palace. The Grand Palace nearly boarders Wat Pho, but it’s important to enter the palace through the main entrance. There are taxi drivers who try to scam you by telling tourists that the palace is closed, but they can take you to another great temple near by. Don’t fall for it! The main entrance is bustling, so follow the crowds in this case.
Even before walking into the main entrance, it is already clear something magnificent is inside. But once inside, it’s almost impossible to know what to look at first! Everything is golden, jeweled, and shiny! It looks like there are colored mirrors over nearly every surface of the complex. I’ve never seen anything quite like it!!!
After touring around a bit, we couldn’t stand the heat any longer! The palace was so shiny it almost made the air around it feel warmer because the sun was reflecting everywhere. We headed back to the hotel and got ready for our journey on the night train to Chiang Mai!