I traveled to Thailand in March for a dive trip, and my daughter, Alexandra, joined me for a look at Bangkok, the City of Angels. We decided that there are 3 Sites you must see while you are in Bangkok!
The Grand Palace is almost too much to take in…I think you would need several days of exploration to do it justice. A few hours gives one the chance to goggle stupidly at the splendor of it. There are so many Buddhist images, depositories, and even the Monastery of the Emerald Buddha on the grounds. The walls are painted with scenes of the Buddha’s life, birth, the Temptation, the Enlightenment and are absolutely intricate and stunning. A study of every inch of wall would be worthwhile. I could not begin to explain it all….an exact smaller copy of the Angor Wat of Cambodia, Chinese imagery, yogic statues, and gold….the gold is overwhelming.
North of the Royal Residence lies the Monastery of the Emerald Buddha, a venerated site in Thai Buddhism. Once again, this statue had been covered in plaster, and discovered when the plaster began to flake off. It is actually carved in Jade and Gold, not Emerald, but the name Emerald Buddha stuck.
Three times a year, King Rama IX changes the Buddha’s costume in a ceremony. There are three seasons in Thailand, the summer, the rainy, and the winter. The Emerald Buddha’s costume must change at each season.
Adjacent to the Grand Palace is Wat Pho, or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Before the Reclining Buddha came to rest there, a school of medicine existed. Medical texts are still there, and statues showing yoga postures are near the outside Bodhi Tree, a tree grown from the seed of the tree where the Buddha received enlightenment. Wat Pho has over a thousand Buddha figures, The Reclining Buddha is the centerpiece of the Wat. “The image of reclining Buddha is 15 m high and 43 m long with his right arm supporting the head with tight curls on two box-pillows of blue, richly encrusted with glass mosaics. The 3 m high and 4.5 m long foot of Buddha displays are inlaid with mother-of-pearl. They are divided into 108 arranged panels, displaying the auspicious symbols by which Buddha can be identified like flowers, dancers, white elephants, tigers and altar accessories. Over the statue is a seven tiered umbrella representing the authority of Thailand. There are 108 bronze bowls in the corridor indicating the 108 auspicious characters of Buddha. People drop coins in these bowls as it is believed to bring good fortune, and to help the monks maintain the wat. Though the reclining Buddha is not a pilgrimage centre, it remains an object of popular piety.” (Wikipedia). Alexandra and I bought our coins and deposited them in the bowls, making a wish each time we dropped a coin. My wishes were mostly for Randy, for his continued health and healing, and for my children, Alexandra and Wesley.
These 3 sites are all in one area, so it makes it easy to see them all. Every inch of ground is worth seeing at the Grand Palace. I hope to see it all again, someday.
Here is a great blog about the Wats in Chiang Mai, a province north of Bangkok. After reading this, I’ve decided I have a good reason to go back to Thailand!