Friday, July 16, 2004

Day 2 - City Tour & Shopping
(posted @ 3:30 a.m. July 24, 2004)

At 7 a.m. we went down to the cafe at the lobby, Buttercup to have a full hearty breakfast. Since it was going to be a long day. Upon arrival at the airport the day before, we booked the half day Temples Tour. Since our time was limited we opted to explore the temples instead of the Royal Palace. Our tour guide, Nancy was waiting for us at 9 a.m. sharp.
First stop - Wat Traimit or the Royal Traimit Temple. This temple is where the World's Biggest Golden Buddha is enshrined. It is more than 700 years old and was built during the Sukhothai era. It has a dimension of 12 Ft 5 inches width, 15 Ft 9 inches height and weighs 5 tons of solid Gold. A person needs to take off her shoes to enter the shrine and you can burn some incense sticks as offerings.
Next stop - Wat Pho or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. It was a rather sunny day that morning and a bit humid. We had parked a fair distance away so we had to walk about 10 minutes before we could reach the entrance. An entrance fee of 20 baht per person. Nancy was really fully knowledgeable about every place we visited. She cited the history behind each stupa as well as regaled us with tales of Thailand's royalty. Wat Pho is a large and extensive temple and it contains the gigantic gold plated Reclining Buddha some 46 meters long and 15 meters high with inlaid mother of pearl soles. This temple is also regarded as the best center of public education and is sometimes called "Thailand's first university". I scalded my feet when I had to take off my shoes and walk around the hot asphalt floors of the shrines. There was an instance where I tiptoed around because it was scorching hot and almost stumbled into a Buddhist monk. It was good that Nancy caught me and pulled me away. It is strictly forbidden for a woman to touch a monk and we had to sway away from their path. Which is kinda difficult to do since most of the monks are just hovering around the temple. We were scheduled to visit 1 more temple but we opted to let Nancy drive us around the city instead. She showed us the old Parliament building and the avenue where all the government ministries is situated. As well as the King's residence in the capital, we also passed by Chinatown and several smaller temples. We dropped by a handicrafts center, a gems factory and a wood craft center. By the time we were through with the tour it was already 2 p.m. So we told Nancy to drop us off at MBK mall so we could have some lunch.
The rest of the day was spent shopping at Siam Center, Emporium, Zen Department located at the Central World Plaza just across the hotel. By the time we went back to the hotel it was only 9:30 p.m. So my sister and I decided to go to the night bazaar at Baiyoke. Armed with only a map to guide us, we discovered it was quite near. But it turned out to be a 15 minute walk along the streets of Bangkok. But it was well lighted up and we felt completely safe even at 10 p.m. By the time we were done with our haggling and shopping we were too tired to walk all the way back to the hotel so we flagged down a taxi and crashed into our beds at 2 a.m.

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