Pritam Rohila Travels

Reports of my travels along with some pictures

Jun 2, 2012

2011, DEC 26: THAILAND, BANGKOK-Grand Palace

After late breakfast, we decided to visit the Grand Palace, Bangkok’s most famous landmark. Built in 1782, it was the official residence of Thai kings for 150 years, and continues to be the administrative seat of Thai government, and the spiritual heart of the nation. Only a few parts of the Palace are open to public.

All nine of us walked to the nearest Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Subway Station, about 10 minutes walk from our hotel. At the station, after some guidance from the ticket office, we boarded a subway.

To our disappointment, the MRT station we landed at was too far away from the ferry landing, where we wanted board a ferry, as it had appeared on the city map. We sought help from some passers-by. But most of them gave us incomplete or incorrect information. One of them even told us that the Grand Palace Finally, we came across a gentleman, who helped us hire three tuk-tuks to the nearest ferry landing.

At the ferry landing also, we had difficulty sorting through (mis-)information provided by different individuals, including touts wanting to sell us city tours. Eventually, we managed to board the right ferry.

After we got off the ferry, again different individuals gave us different information about how to reach the Grand Palace. And it took us some to time to sort through all the misinformation we had received, before we managed to reach the Grand Palace.

At Palace entrance, officials were checking everyone to make sure if he or she was dressed modestly enough to be allowed in.

Women with bare shoulders and low cut blouses, and individuals of both gender whose garments did not cover the knee, could stay out, or borrow acceptable clothing from the Palace office
nearby, after making a specified deposit, to ensure return of the borrowed clothes.

Some of us, who wore shorts and had bare knees, also were denied entry. But at that time all clothing had already been borrowed. Not willing to wait for an hour at the office for some
borrowed clothing to be returned, we decided to go out and buy allowed clothing of our own.

In spite of the brochure we had been given with our tickets, we had difficulty figuring out what is where. Therefore, we did not visit all the places we could have.

The major attraction was the Emerald Buddha Temple. It enshrines a Buddha idol carved from a block of green jade. First discovered in 1434 in a stupa at Chiag Rai, it had been taken to different places – Chiang Mai, Vientiane, and Ayutthya - before being brought to its current location.

Exterior of the temple is richly decorated and murals about Buddhist cosmology, scenes from Jataka stories and the Buddha’s life and work adorn its inside walls. Cameras are not allowed inside the temple.

Other structures near the temple are a golden Chedi, a repository for Buddhist scriptures, a replica of Angkor Wat, and the Royal Pantheon, which displays statues of the previous Chakri dynasty kings.

We passed by other palace buildings,...
...including the Throne Hall, a glorious example of Thai architecture.

By the time we exited the Palace grounds, we were hungry. We went to a small restaurant across the street for lunch.

After lunch we took a ferry to Taksin. At Taksin we took the BTS Sky Train to the Siam Center. There we explored the Siam Paragon Shopping Center, also known as the “Jewel of Asia.”
Besides stores selling reputable brand and luxury goods, it has a sizeable foodcourt.

After dinner at an Indian in the mall’s food court, we hired a van to take us back to our hotel.

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