Buddhas, beers and Tom Yam soup

Trip Start Apr 21, 2012
Trip End May 06, 2012

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Time to do the ‘typical’ tourist sights. We started at the Royal Palace and the glorious Wat Phra Kaeo within its walls. If you gave a five-year-old girl a tonne of glitter and sequins and asked her to build a house you would get an idea of Wat Phra Kaeo. Every surface is painted gold or tiled with glass or coloured mosaic tiles. As well as numerous spires and stupas a dozen or so huge mosaic demons guard the wat and its centre piece – the emerald Buddha. Unlike the Golden Buddha from yesterday the name is misleading, it’s not emerald but ‘just’ jade, but it is still much revered.

In the grounds of the palace – or the ones open to the public – there is more intricate tiling, glimmering spires and the odd western classical style building, with a Thai style roof of course.

We braved the rising heat and humidity – as well as the booming America voice telling us that “the Grand Palace is open every day. Ignore anyone who tries to prevent you from entering” – to visit Wat Pho.

Wat Pho is less ceremonial, more working wat and is a centre of learning massage. Among the coloured tiles, mother of pearl and gold paint is the enormous reclining Buddha – which fills the building in which it is housed. Hundreds more Buddhas line the walls of the courtyards. As with so much here, the wat is a great contrast of buzzing areas full of tourists and quiet corners and courtyards.

With the heat and humidity rising further we stopped for lunch at a street stall for some great chicken with chilli and basil and as much liquid as we could manage.

Having been told repeatedly not to believe tuk tuk drivers and others who try to prevent us from visiting attractions by telling us they are closed, we arrived at the national museum to discover it actually was closed (it’s only open Wed-Sun). That gave us a barely needed excuse to shoot to Khao San Road to find a beer close to a fan.

After a quick change one beer turned onto lots – much needed to wash down the delicious but warm Tom Yam soup – and we rolled in, worse for wear after a good evening making random new friends.

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