Thailand (ประเทศไทย)

Jan 17, 2018 Bangkok, Thailand (5)

WELCOME TO BANGKOK, THAILAND

Today we took an organized tour and traveled through the beautiful countryside just outside of Bangkok, Thailand. We saw tapioca fields, several little towns and villages that were bustling with school children. This is a country that has always been high on my list of “must sees”, so I was very excited!

Once we arrived in Bangkok, we visited Wat Trimitr, the temple of the Golden Buddha. Here, you will find one of the largest Buddha statues in the world. It is constructed from solid gold in the Sukothal style. Back in the 18th century this particular Buddha statue was surrounded by plaster to protect it from invading armies. Later, it was rediscovered in 1957 when the statue was being moved and a small crack in the plaster revealed the gold.

Our next stop was China town and the flower market as we headed towards our main attraction for the day: Bangkok’s Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo (also known as the Royal Chapel of the Emerald Buddha. This is one of the most ornate monasteries that I have ever seen in Asia. There, of course, if a large Buddha there, and this one is carved from a single piece of emerald jasper. This Buddha wears costumes that are changed year round. If you visit Wat Phra Kaeo, don’t miss the interior areas that are covered with murals. These murals reflect the life of Buddha, but I found the art interesting and even somewhat violent and controversial. I think I probably spent most of my time there studying the different scenes and trying to figure out the meaning of each story told in the form of art.

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The Grand Palace is next door to the Wat Phra Kaeo. We did not enter the palace, but it all very opulent like Wat Phra Kaeo so we took a lot of pictures. The palace is constructed in a European style and has spires that are decorated with colored glass and gilt. Definitely something that you don’t come across everyday.

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Wat Phra Kaeo
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Guards are everywhere at Wat Phra Kaeo and the Grand Palace
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The beautiful structures of Wat Phra Kaeo
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Soldiers guarding the grounds
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More cool buildings at Wat Phra Kaeo
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We actually saw this cute feather-duster salesman riding along the street as we were waiting on some lost members of our tour group. You don’t see this type of stuff everyday, so we fortunately had our camera ready

This area is extremely popular with tourist from all over the world, and although it’s not a large attraction, it is easy to get lost if you are traveling with a group. If you have the means to see it on your own (using your own transportation) try to go that route rather than travel with a large tour group where some members of your party might get lost or lose track of time.

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The Grand Palace
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The Grand Palace Side View
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A cute little statue near the exit of the exhibit
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The ticket you will need to see Wat Phra Kaeo and the Grand Palace

Next, we strolled over to the Chao Phraya River which is just behind the palace. We took a riverboat cruise, giving us an opportunity to see from a distance, the thriving downtown area of Bangkok. It appears to be a large city with typical skyscraper buildings and huge financial district. We also saw a few nice riverfront homes and even were handed a loaf of bread to feed the river fish as we sailed along the river. This particular river is known as the “Venice of the East” because it is made up of canals in the city’s Thonburi district . We cruised past the Wat Arun (or Temple of Dawn) which used to be the Royal Chapel. There was also a large pagoda we passed that was covered with flashy tiles that our guide called Phra Prang.

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Thriving Downtown Bangkok

 

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Saint Joseph’s Cathedral
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Hungry fish grab the bread you feed them in the Chao Phraya River
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A very nice home welcomes you on the Chao Phraya River

If you happen to visit Bangkok, even if it’s only for a day, I would recommend trying to see these particular attractions. The advantage of going with a group is that you will get in first ahead of the large crowds, But, as I mentioned before, you may waste some time waiting on others in your group. If it’s your first time, book a tour. Otherwise, try to get there on your own.

Above are some of the various landmarks and people that caught our eyes are we drove to each attraction.  Bangkok is truly an amazing place to visit.

 

WELCOME TO KO SAMUI, THAILAND

We had originally booked a half day excursion called “Temple of the Big Buddha & Elephant Treck” but decided to cancel in order to have some free time on our own and go at our own pace. Sometimes, it is nice to take a break from organized tours and do some walking and exploring on your own.

I did talk to a few people who took the Elephant Treck and had a wonderful time, so there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking the tour and if you are interested in riding on the back of an elephant, this is a good opportunity to do that.

I met a very sweet lady on the ship’s tender from Australia who did go on the Elephant Treck tour and had a wonderful time. She let me snap a photo of “her” photo of her husband and her riding on the elephant. She told me that it was a very short ride and really designed only as a photo opportunity. But, she raved about the excursion (Temple of the Big Buddha & Elephant Treck), so if this is of interest to you, go for it!

As I have mentioned before, this particular trip to Asia was done via the Sapphire Princess Cruise Ship. Getting to Ko Samui required taking a Tender boat to the terminal. When tenders are involved, it always shortens you day a bit. So we opted to roam the small town of Ko Samui and do a little shopping. There were many bargains to be had and if you love Asian clothing, this is the place to shop. Here you will find many fabrics that breathe well with the hot and humid climates of Asia. It’s also a good place to find some of the unique and refined fashion trends that you don’t see anywhere else in the world. I purchased a lovely pair of Asian elephant-print wide leg pants that could double as a long skirt. Wear this style with an appropriate blouse and high heel sandals (which I also purchased) and you’ll have a classic elegant look. The shop I spent most of my time in had mirrors attached to the walls and actually allowed you to try on the clothing (over your own clothes) which was a very nice perk! Unfortunately much of the clothing is “one-size-fits-all”, and tends to be made to fit the average Asian-female build which is about a size 4 or 6 in American sizes.  However, there are also many non-Asian styles of clothing sold that are quite nice that come in a variety of sizes and fashions for everyone.

There are shops all over the island that sell similar items, and they also specialize in woven tops that require a camisole be worn underneath, but once again, the fabrics and materials used are so comfortable in the heat. If you want a “shopping day” for souvenirs or items for yourself, this is a great island for this purpose. The clothing you purchase here at reasonable prices can be packed easily (as it’s all lightweight) and be used on your future trips to Asia or other warm climate destinations. By the way, I am NOT a lady that enjoys shopping at all, but I had a lot of fun in the shops because the prices are not fixed and you can easily bargain to get an even lower price. The Asian clothing is so very beautiful and different from what I see at home. So, if you DO like to shop, you’ll be in heaven on this island.

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This photo was taken near the tender port
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Very friendly fishermen are happy to see tourists!
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This was a pretty cool pet store. There were no pets for sale here, but there were all kinds of specialty dog and cat foods, treats and toys for fuzzy little friends. I have noticed that most countries in Asia love their pets every bit as much as Americans do!
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A pretty scene off the pier as you walk into town.
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One of the typical clothing shops. I wish I had taken a photo of the shop where I purchased clothing, jewelry and purses. It was much larger and the prices were fabulous. If you go to this island in Thailand, walk straight off the pier. Cross the street and walk another block. Turn right and check out the second shop on the right. I stayed there for over an hour….and I HATE shopping. So I can tell you that it’s a GREAT shop.

After shopping, wander through the town and see the various schools and small office buildings on this quant little island.

I hope you have enjoyed reading a little about this beautiful country. “Krāb lā”, กราบลา,  Bye-bye for now!