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Wat Arun and Wat Pho

Buddhas and Temples before Hotel Check-In

sunny 35 °C
View 2013 Round the World Trip on FrancisRTW's travel map.

I must have been the only person on the two legs of my flight from Muscat to Bangkok (via Karachi) not returning or leaving home in Pakistan laden down with extra baggage. My flight arrived in Bangkok 7am so having previously arranged for my hotel to look after my luggage I got on with the sightseeing.

After a short trip on the Bangkok Skytrain to Saphan Taksin and journey up and across the Phraya River, I arrived at Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) a 269 feet (82 metre) high khmer-style `brahnig(spire) constructed in the early 1800s when the Thai capital moved from Ayuthaya to Bangkok.

Wat Arun from the River Phraya

Wat Arun from the River Phraya


Wat Arun and Gardens

Wat Arun and Gardens


Me outside Wat Arun

Me outside Wat Arun

Wat Arun is an iconic sight and you are encouraged to climb it. The 1st flight of steps weren't too bad but the 2nd step were scary steep and felt almost vertical; once you were up the challenge was then to sum up the courage to get down again!

Wat Arun

Wat Arun


Detail of a scuptured figure on the side of Wat Arun

Detail of a scuptured figure on the side of Wat Arun


Looking down the scary 2nd flight of steps at Wat Arun

Looking down the scary 2nd flight of steps at Wat Arun


Me on the top of Wat Arun with Wat Pho in the background

Me on the top of Wat Arun with Wat Pho in the background


Wat Arun

Wat Arun

I then returned across the river and went into Wat Pho, so stunning was the architecture that for a couple of days I was convinced it was the famed Grand Temple Complex itself! The main attraction at Wat Pho is the 150 Foot (46 metre) long by 49 feet (15 metre) high Recling Buddha in the elaborate large hall by the entrance. Beside the Hall of the Recling Buddha there are a number of large Chedi containing the ashes of Buddha and royalty (buddhists cremate rather than bury their dead).

The Hall of the Recling Buddha at Wat Pho

The Hall of the Recling Buddha at Wat Pho


The Recling Buddha

The Recling Buddha


Me by the Recling Buddha

Me by the Recling Buddha


The large Chedi at Wat Pho

The large Chedi at Wat Pho


Stone Guard by the entrance gate

Stone Guard by the entrance gate

The Main Hall (Phra Ubosot) at Wat Pho is surrounded by smaller halls to the North, East, West and South each of which is venerated as a shrine by Buddhists and you have to be properly dressed and take your shoes off before entering.

The Main Hall at Wat Pho

The Main Hall at Wat Pho


Buddha in the Main Hall at Wat Pho

Buddha in the Main Hall at Wat Pho

Seated Buddha in one of the halls surrounding Wat Pho

Seated Buddha in one of the halls surrounding Wat Pho


Standing Buddha in one of the surrounding halls at Wat Pho

Standing Buddha in one of the surrounding halls at Wat Pho


Buddha in one of the surrounding halls

Buddha in one of the surrounding halls

Posted by FrancisRTW 03:00 Archived in Thailand Tagged temples boat city buddha videos solo Comments (0)

Ayutthaya

Day trip to the Ancient Capital of Thailand

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View 2013 Round the World Trip on FrancisRTW's travel map.

Ayutthaya lies 52 miles (85 kilometres) north of Bangkok and was one of the ancient capitals of Thailand until it was destroyed by the invading Burmese Army in 1767. For over 400 years it prospered and was covered in temples and after its destruction was replaced by Bangkok built on newly exposed land in the Gulf of Siam.

On the way we visited the Royal Palace at Bang Pa-in most of which was built between 1872-1889 and is still used occasionally by the King and Queen of Thailand for hosting state receptions and banquets. The grounds are very ornate and are built in a european style. in the centre of the gardens is the Aisawan-dhipaya-asana Pavilion surrounded by a pond in which we could feed bread to some very energetic turtles and fish! The Royal Palace itself is a two storey manaion built in the Chinese style containing an impressive throne room on the ground floor.

The view up the lake as you enter the grounds of the Bang Pa-in Palace

The view up the lake as you enter the grounds of the Bang Pa-in Palace


Turtles swiming in the pond surrounding the Aisawan-dhipaya-asana Pavilion

Turtles swiming in the pond surrounding the Aisawan-dhipaya-asana Pavilion


Ho withun Thasuna

Ho withun Thasuna


The Phra Thinang (Royal Residence) Wehart Chamrun from the Ho withun Thasuna

The Phra Thinang (Royal Residence) Wehart Chamrun from the Ho withun Thasuna


Me in front of the throne room at the Royal Residence

Me in front of the throne room at the Royal Residence

About an hour's drive later we reached Ayutthaya which is a UNESECO World Heritage Site. In 1700 Ayutthaya ideally situated for trade between India, China and Malaya was the largest city in the world with a population of about 1 million people. The Wat Maha That Temple seemed the most impressive part of the site with its pagoda towering above the ruins and the evocative sandstone buddha mostly buried and overgrown by a tree.

The ruins of Wat Maha That

The ruins of Wat Maha That


The pagoda at Wat Maha That

The pagoda at Wat Maha That


The head of the Sandstone Buddha

The head of the Sandstone Buddha


Buddha amongst the ruins at Wat Maha That

Buddha amongst the ruins at Wat Maha That

We then moved on to Wat Na Phra Mane, the only part of Ayutthaya not destroyed by the invading Burmese Army in 1767 as it was used as their headquarters. The Buddha is unusual in that it is dressed in Royal Attire, as with all Buddhist Temples we hasd to remove our shoes before entering.

The monastery at Wat Na Phra Mane

The monastery at Wat Na Phra Mane


Me by the Buddha in the Temple at Wat Na Phra Mane

Me by the Buddha in the Temple at Wat Na Phra Mane

Our final stop at Ayutthaya before a boat trip back to Bangkok was to the temple at Wat Lokayasutharam which holds one of the largest Reclining Buddha Images (although not as large as the Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho that I saw the previous day).

The Reclining Buddha at Wat Lokayasutharam

The Reclining Buddha at Wat Lokayasutharam


Me by the Reclining Buddha at Wat Lokayasutharam

Me by the Reclining Buddha at Wat Lokayasutharam


Wat Wora Chet the Ram near Wat Lokayasutharam

Wat Wora Chet the Ram near Wat Lokayasutharam

Passing rice paddy fields on the way, we then met up with a cruise boat and had a very tasty Thai Buffet Lunch as we floated down the river back to Bangkok. Amongst the temples and houses on stilts the peppered along the shore we also passed landing craft given to the Thai military by the USA following the Vietnam War and the shed containing the Royal Barges now used only for ceremonial occasions.

Paddy Fields on the way to meet up with the cruise boat back to Bangkok

Paddy Fields on the way to meet up with the cruise boat back to Bangkok


Surplus Landing Craft given to the Thai Military after the Vietnam War

Surplus Landing Craft given to the Thai Military after the Vietnam War


The Royal Barge Sheds by the Phraya River

The Royal Barge Sheds by the Phraya River


A large portrait of the King of Thailand beside th River Phraya

A large portrait of the King of Thailand beside th River Phraya


The Grand Palace Complex from the Phraya River

The Grand Palace Complex from the Phraya River

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in Thailand Tagged temples boat ruins palaces buddha tour solo Comments (0)

The MBK Center and Siam Central

Shopping on Heat!

sunny 35 °C
View 2013 Round the World Trip on FrancisRTW's travel map.

One thing I did not realise when I booked a hotel next door to the National Stadium Skytrain Station in Bangkok was that I would be next door to the most expansive shopping mall I had ever seen. I had heard of the MBK Center but until I experienced it I did not appreciate how unbelievably immense with an unexhaustable range of small stalls and shops it was. There are 7 floors and each floor seems to go on for ever, each time you think you have reached the end another bazaar of stalls and shops seems to open up before you.

The entrance to the MBK Center at night

The entrance to the MBK Center at night


Skytrains on multiple levels above the street outside the Siam Paragon

Skytrains on multiple levels above the street outside the Siam Paragon


Inside the MBK Center, escalators everywhere and you can not see all the floors!

Inside the MBK Center, escalators everywhere and you can not see all the floors!


The escalators to the lower floors of the MBK Center

The escalators to the lower floors of the MBK Center

You can buy just about anything you can think of in the MBK Center, the free directory of shops is 20 pages long! I wanted an off the shelf pair of specs to replace my tatty 2nd pair and instead ended up with my old pair fixed up as good as new for next to nothing while I waited; a concave piece of glass to my prescription was lazer cut and fitted to my frames right there in front of me. I never appreciated before how complex the process was - facinating! Thai Street Food is rightly famed across the world but for the mega lazy there is an international food hall at the MBK Center where you take a ticket, get anything you want to eat from the stalls - Greek, Japanese etc. as well as the more usual Thai and Chinese and then present your ticket to pay when you leave.

Crowds shopping in the MBK Center

Crowds shopping in the MBK Center


Shops and stalls as far as the eye can see (and further) in the MBK Center

Shops and stalls as far as the eye can see (and further) in the MBK Center


Descending down onto the Ground Floor of the MBK Center

Descending down onto the Ground Floor of the MBK Center

Anyhow enough with shopping! Equally interesting was how all the shopping centres competed with each other to attract shoppers. On my first night I stumbled on a Thai Boxing Tournament outside the MBK Center, not something on my list but a spectacle none the less.

Thai Boxing underway outside the MBK Center

Thai Boxing underway outside the MBK Center


One of the boxers is floored during a Thai Boxing Bout

One of the boxers is floored during a Thai Boxing Bout


The final Thai Boxing bout of the night was Female

The final Thai Boxing bout of the night was Female

Meanwhile the large more convential shopping centres next door had a free fashion show for a new product launch while another had a pop concert being broadcast live on radio.

The Entrance to the Siam Paragon Shopping Mall

The Entrance to the Siam Paragon Shopping Mall


Fashion Show at the Siam Center

Fashion Show at the Siam Center


Fashion Show at the Siam Center Shopping Mall

Fashion Show at the Siam Center Shopping Mall


Free Concert underway by the dancing fountains between the Siam Center and Siam Paragon Shopping Malls

Free Concert underway by the dancing fountains between the Siam Center and Siam Paragon Shopping Malls

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in Thailand Tagged buildings markets sport city videos solo Comments (0)

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