Out and about in Bangkok

Trip Start Aug 30, 2012
Trip End Mar 21, 2013

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

A great nights sleep and down for breakfast about 7:00. 
By 8:00 we are leaving the guest house on foot for a bit of a walkabout.  I am reaching the point where there is not much left within walking distance to go and see and I will have to start taking a river taxi somewhere before starting our walks. 
Today we cut through Wat Chana Songkhram behind the guest house and along Khao San Road.  It is pretty quiet at this time of day apart from one bar playing loud music and full of waters drinking for breakfast - if they even know it is breakfast time ?!  We pick up Rajdamnoen Road at the Democracy Monument and walk down to Wat Rajnadda.  The temple here is unusual, based upon a monastery in Sri Lanka.  The central structure, Loh Prasat or Iron Monastery, is named after the 37 metal spires that adorn the roof, one for each of the 37 virtues on the road to Buddhist enlightenment.  You can go inside and view the small meditation cells that line the corridors on each level and see an exhibition, but we are too early.
At the one corner of the temple compound is a large market selling everything that you would need to establish your own temple - should you be so inclined; Buddhas, monks accoutrements, statues, dolls, Hindu figures, phalluses, candles, jos sticks, the list is endless.  This is also the location of Bangkoks, and I guess Thailands, largest amulet market.  Nearly every Thai will wear or carry at least one amulet to ward off evil spirits and bad luck.  They are usually modelled on statues from temples around the country, holy men, kings - in particular King Rama V, Chulalongkorn, or one of Yul Brynners sons from the King and I !!  On the back of the amulets is a blessing.  They are not only popular as a means of protection but are also collectors items selling for large sums of money.  I read somewhere that there are at least 6 magazines in Thailand totally dedicated to these collectors.  Anyway, during our brief visit we were too early again and most stalls were still opening up.
With Phu Khao Tong - the Golden Mount - appearing briefly through the trees,we turn to pass by Wat Suthat apparently one of the 6 most important temples in the country.  Outside the temple, in the middle of a busy road junction is Sao Ching Cha - the Giant Swing.  Originally used in Brahmin festival to celebrate Shivas annual visit to earth.  The swing was last used in the 1930s when it was decided to ban its future use to the number of accidents that resulted.  It has since also been relocated.
The streets around here are larger versions of the amulet market selling all sorts of Buddhist stuff.
We continue our walk to the THai Ministry of Defence buildings - I just cant keep away from MoD !!
We walk past the Grand Palace and temple of the Emerald Buddha, stop briefly at the Lak Muang City Pillar shrine then cross Sanam Luang on the way back to the guest house.
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