Tuesday, 26 January 2010

WAT ARUN, THAILAND

I wanted to go to Wat Arun last year but was annoyed with our private driver. He took my traveling partner and me to the pier and said we could cross it with a private boat. Cost of a private boat was 2,500 Bath, which was roughly around US85. Duration to cross the Chao Phraya river - 3 minutes and another half hour to cruise along the banks. I didn't take up the offer as I found the price way too expensive. This year, we had our private driver as usual but I specifically told him that we wanted to travel like the locals, travel like the Thais as no locals will pay USD85 for a 3 minutes boat ride to Wat Arun or anywhere in Thailand - only foreigners paid such fees.

Our destination - Wat Arun or The Temple of Dawn, one of the most photographed temple in Bangkok, seen here before the crossing.


No private boat complete with tone down tasteless tomyum for lunch, because that was what I was offered last year. Fancy trappings come with huge price but I like traveling like a local.



No nice pier but the price of crossing the river - 3Bath, or about USD00.10!! Hello, 0.10 cents and 85 bucks is not small difference and you get across the river safely, I think. The boats were full all the time but we they came on time and frequently, so for 3Bath - I am not complaining. Maybe our driver wasn't so happy but he did what we wanted. Guides do take you to the most expensive places in Bangkok in return for commissions or fuel/food coupons. After going there so many times, I was very specific on every locations and NO meandering into alleys which lead to unwanted souvenirs or jewelery shops.


Upon arriving Wat Arun, my friend wanted to take some pictures of herself in a full Thai costume complete with headgear. Asking price 3,000 Bath, but she only paid 1,000 Bath...so everything can be bargained..if you are up to it. However, I don't think Pat can do this, the bargaining part. Take me Pat next time, you'll just need to feed me :) That said, I still could not bargain as good as my traveling partners, they seemed to be born to bargain at outrageous prices - and get away with it all the time.


At one of the entrance to Wat Arun.


Upon entering Wat Arun, we saw the elongated prang , which are well known in Thailand and Cambodia. 'Prang' signifies mount or towers, used widely in Hindu mythology. This temple was built as a representation of Mount Meru, the centre of the world in Buddhist cosmology.


In this picture (bottom right), people climbing the stairs.


The word Arun comes from Aruna, the Indian God of dawn, and this temple is a major attraction on the river side of Thonburi.



Many people climbed to the top but I skipped that. You practically had to climb cum crawl up and down. Very similar to climbing the temples in Cambodia. They are very steep and can be dangereous.


The temple is covered with bits of porcelain used as ballast from boats traveling between China and Thailand. It also signify the trademark of King Rama 111 architecture style.


Close up of the porcelain. I was amazed again at how they did it all by hand where building the Wat Arun started at year 1809.




Leaving Wat Arun, view from boat.


While walking back to our car, we saw plenty of street food. I am sure they would taste yummy though I often stay away from street food in Bangkok, always concern about what's inside and most hawkers speak very little or hardly English.



Dried fish, widely eaten here and Malaysia also - especially for porridge.


Finally, tuk tuks are not just for transporting people as seen here.


We saw the King Bhumidol Adulyadej pictures everywhere, offices, malls, shopping centres and here on the street. He has been King of Thailand since 9th June 1946, making him the world's longest reigning current monarch.


If you are here, you will see red everywhere. Chinese New Year is around the corner, loud and noisy Chinese New Year songs blasting everywhere. Everyone is on a shopping frenzy and I am going to Chinatown today. It's been ages since I have been there but after much persuasion from my mom, I promised I will take her. It would be interesting to see Chinatown during this time.

Let's blog about Bangkok's night life the next time :)


Have a fab week ahead everyone!

Monday, 18 January 2010

GRAND PALACE, WAT PO - BANGKOK, THAILAND

I am back :)
Not just back from Bangkok but back in blog land too. For the past two months, I wondered if I will do a "goodbye" post like many departing bloggers. Those lazy months certainly makes one very lethargic, but it's New Year and back to our crazy work and home schedule somehow makes one..well, me, more motivated to blog and travel. There is a long list of traveling plans for this year and I hope I can fulfill all of them. Bangkok was fun. Great for eating and a shopping haven for everyone. One of my colleague who often goes on shopping trips to Indonesia and Vietnam was a real pro in bargaining. For every price that was given, she would mark it down by another 60% and the best part, she got the deal, even our Thai friends were amazed.

This post is on the Grand Palace - a must visit for all visitors. It was my 4th trip and 2nd blog post. I would like to say that whenever I post, it is always about sharing information I know personally and more importantly, the photos. So, if anyone wants more information, kindly google it separately as I won't attempt to do a dissertation on any post...as requested by some at times.
At the main entrance of the Grand Palace.



Entering into the Palace, we saw many locals praying.


This is the Phra Sri Ratana Chedi built by Rama IV and said to contain a piece of Buddha's breastbone. Religion aside, it is my favorite piece of architecture, just love the color of gold glistening in the sun. By the way, both Thailand and Malaysia have the same climate, and it was hot and humid in Bangkok at 34 celcius throughout the day.




More giant statue as guardians everywhere and this year, I saw the same imposing figures at their airport too.



The Palace was built in 1782 and for 150 years was the official residence of the Thai Kings, Royal Court and Government administration. If you know the history of Thailand, it is the only Asian country which had never been colonised by the West.


When you go up close to these ornate buildings, you will find mirrored mosaic of many colors. I was amazed on how they piece it all together.





A miniature model of my favorite monument - The Angkor Wat, Cambodia. In Cambodia, it is the only temple which faces West built a little over 1000 years ago. I am so keen to go to Cambodia again if I could find a travel partner :)


Another peek of a different chedi / stupa.




The Grand Palace is a mixture of Thai and European architecture. The current King still uses it for ceremonial functions.


Mural restoration is an ongoing project. At first I thought they were painting but upon close up, they were actually painting it with gold leaves.


After Grand Palace, we head on to Wat Po.


We saw children rehearsing for a traditional dance.


In every corner there is a prayer room with Buddha.




More Chedis.


People praying inside Wat Po.


The reclining Buddha.


Tuk Tuk anyone?


Have a great week everyone, now I've got to visit all my buddies in blogland :)

Saturday, 16 January 2010

SHADOW SHOT SUNDAY

It's been ages since I've done a SSS post, so this is for Lisa and Tracy. Shadow shots taken inside the Grand Palace, Bangkok - Thailand, on a trip last week.







Thursday, 7 January 2010

Happy 2010.........and on a trip

I have typed and deleted numerous posts..it's taking a long time to get myself out of the hibernation mode and get back to blogging, I blame it on all the lazy December holidays.


The last two months had been wet...evidenced with mushrooms growing in the garden :(


So, to kick start myself into blogging again, I am going to Bangkok tomorrow. To see the gold papered Buddha which glistened in the sun.


To see colourful and monstrous figures acting as protectors for the Grand Palace.


In any temples, there will be tons of beautiful lotuses...used as offerings during prayers.


Playing host to two colleagues who have never been to Bangkok means seeing all the places I have been ...again.



I don't like to sit those 'tuk tuk' taxis which drive on the opposite road all the time to beat traffic, but I think those traveling with me should have a 'hair-raising' experience at least once in their lifetime. I can almost imagining them cringing in the taxi haha!


Maybe I'll pop over the the famous Wat Po where the reclining golden Buddha is.


More 'chedis' or stupa within the Grand Palace.




They are building more temples within and for a nominal fee, you can donate a tile or two for the temples and have your name permanently etched on the roof.


I want to go here, this Spice shop which smells so aromatic and drink their infused spiced tea!


My apologies to all for being so slow in stopping by but will be right back in a week :)

Hugs...M