11 September 2005

2 in a row

I was the envy of all my friends...i had 2 Bangkoks in a row and on the first the crew was deadheading back (for those who dont know, it means that we were like passengers while another crew worked) - how cool and lucky is that??

The first thing that struck me when i went outside was the smell (and im not trying to be rude here). It was a mix of humid air, hot food, spices, seafood, incense, unusual but you get used to it. I have to say this, for me the first thing i notice about a place is the smell, and that sense is so strong it can bring back memories you havent recalled in so long in perfect detail. Oh and yes, for those curious, Sydney does have a smell too. Anyway im getting side tracked.

What i think is beautiful about this place (and no its not the shopping believe it or not) is its contrast (and the tuk-tuks and motor bike 'taxis'). You have the temples dotted throughout the city very intricate and culture rich, housing such a unique way of life for those of the faith and then you have the bustle and crowds of the city, the people from the fashion savvy younger generation to the quieter more wisend older generation. The mix of poverty against new developments, the contrast of a polluted river, run down houses and streets with the sparkling shopping centres.

So here are some photos of my wandering around BKK over the two trips there.

The Golden Buddha is located at Wat Traimit. The temple itself is more modest than others you can visit but the story behind this Buddha image is what is interesting - made between the 13-15th century it was concealed and only discovered to be made from gold due to an accident in the 50's!... that and the fact that the solid gold image weighs in at 5.5 tonnes (If you want the full story check out this article). A very cheap 20BHT for entry (though no one checked for tickets) and plenty to see.

One spot which i was more than happy to spend hours upon hours was Wat Srakes where i climbed The Golden Mount and and explored the grounds including the temple and the monastary library. The climb to the top is some 300 steps but its quite easy and the views are great especially at the top, you can go to the very top but they had blocked it off the day i was there. Still, i managed to get some great pics from my wandering around. It took 3 reigns for the mount to be fully constructed and the holy relics of Buddha (Siddharth Gotama) were enshrined at the top on May 23rd 1899.
This is a shot of the top of the Golden Mount taken from the grounds of the temple.

This is of the Buddha image inside the temple. The surrounding walls are very detailed especially the panels between the windows which are painted with scenes from the life of Buddha. It never fails to amaze me the amount of detail and work that goes int these illustrations.
The Monastary Library, I took a quick peek inside, i couldnt resist. Books everywhere, lots of prints for distribution, monks in white and other people going about their business, hardly anyone noticed i was there, i wanted to stay and flip through a few things but a) almost everything was in Thai and b) i felt like i was intruding. There was this one monk in white sitting by a table and she had her eyes on me the whole time, not in a what-do-you-think-your-doing-here way but in a very sweet interested and i-know-something-you-dont mischevoius way if that makes sense. I was just as interested in her and smiled at her before creeping out the back.

Lastly some photos from my wanderings. The first is one of my favourite photos - looks really professional doesnt it?

This last photo was taken as it started to rain lightly. It took me a few moments to notice that it had and i hadnt seen or felt rain for at least 2 months, the realisation bought a smile to my face and i welcomed the change in weather and instead of trying to avoid it, i enjoyed the feel of it on my skin, trust me, after being in the sand pit for a while with nothing but sun and heat, rain is a blessing :)

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