We are in Bangkok, at the Wat Phra Keaw, inside the grand palace complex of the Thai King.
It is the most important temple in Thailand, the King’s temple in a way. Rama XI, the current King is most revered and despite the political problems the country experiences from time to time, he holds on to his status. Be stupid enough to insult him and you will end up in goal in no time!
They have their own alfabet and you try and pronounce Wat Phra Keaw anyway! The sun is HOT in those parts so I just walked down to the main road and then stopped a taxi. The driver watched patiently as I was making faces trying to pronounce my destination and the calmly mentioned his price. Off course all tourists go there so it is not too difficult even if you mispronounce it horribly.
When he dropped me off though he couldn’t help smiling as a stated ‘Wat Phra Keaw’ with the same effort.
Everyone wants to make a buck so just as get out of the taxi, scouts start trying to talk me into taking a city tour in those three wheel scooter taxi things of theirs! The Palace is closed today for an important religious ceremony, rather do a city tour with us. And that is in the worst traffic, enfolded in exhaust fumes and in the terrible heat. What a pleasure, it was difficult to resist the temptation.
Well I made my way past the guys with one long finger nail and miracle of miracles, the Palace is open 😉
Two yakshis guard the entrance to the temple.
The temple houses the Emerald Buddha. Hy was made in India (as so many things are today as well) but spent time in Cambodia before arriving in Thailand in the 18th century.
When Ayutthaya (I will do a post on it) was overrun and destoyed by the Burmese the Emerald Buddha was feared lost. It was later found in the North of Thailand in Chang Rai. When lightning struck a temple, the buddha was toppled and an edge chipped off.
Someone had had the foresight to cover the Emerald Buddha with a layer of clay and send it away to the North. People of Chang Rai en Chang Mai (the principalities) still consider themselves a cut above people of the south.
Well the girl from the north I met was a real princess, Isuzu bakkie and all! She fetched my luggage from the (horrible) place I had booked on Koh Samui and took us to their far more civilized place.
When we arrived to fetch the luggage there was a western tourist (perhaps he’s been there a while) seated on the ground outside (no problem there I do this myself) with a lady of uncertain morals painting his toe nails, oh joy 😉
I had already been attacked by stinging wasps on my way to my room earlier and the smell of old chipboard was the last straw, I was out, prepaid or not.
The huge dustbin filled with water and a sort of a dog bowl on top in the bathroom didn’t help either. Yuk!
Their place was a huge improvement on the dustbin mess and less expensive to boot. Isn’t the world a strange place.
Not that any of this has anything what so ever to do with the Buddha – or perhaps it does 😉 He is made out of Jade, the word Emerald refers to his colour, and only 66 cm tall. Only the king is allowed to touch him and his apparel is changed 4 times a year, to reflect the seasons. He wore a scarf when I was there as it was only 38 degrees and therefor quite cool. If you want to see of PHOTO click here, it seems only the king is allowed to take photos of him as well..
If I remember correctly The King and I takes place in Thailand. They were never under a colonial power and was a free country between the French and Dutch (later also English) parts. The king played his cards right and played both sides down the middle to protect the freedom of his own people. Thai means free as far as I know. Perhaps the Kings deserves the regard he is held in.
Did you notice I don’t know anything about the Palace complex? I didn’t have the strength to listen to long stories from a guide so it was rather a quick visit. My photos are just under one and a half hour in total 😉 – no disrespect