« Round The World trip is overBye bye Bangkok »


Added: March 18, 2010

Tags: Thailand palace photos temple
Our first stop on our small Round the World trip has been Bangkok in Thailand. It was only stop over on flight to Sydney. Originally I was not impressed when Zuzka selected Bangkok from all possible stop overs, my opinion of Thailand was not very good, I guess it was thanks to mini-series Bangkok Hilton. Well, I was wrong. It is beautiful country that we need to explore more in future. (We did not have enough time to see much, you cannot see whole Bangkok if you have only 1.5 days for it, but we have seen photos of Zuzka's friend Dida who goes there every year). From things we have seen I have liked the most intricate details of decoration of buildings. I am going to show some of them here.

We arrived at afternoon of 27th of December, obtained Visa on Arrival and hit the rush hour with our bus. When we arrived to our guest house New Siam II it was already dark so we went straight to restaurant for dinner and some drinks. After that we shortly walked around the area and went to bed "as soon as possible".

Wat Arun

Our guest house was close to river, so after the breakfast at 7:00 we went directly for express boat. The river Chao Phraya is important for public transport in Bangkok and I like how good and effective it is. Just short stopping at every pier, short whiz and the boat speeds to next stop.

At 7:35 we were there and started taking photos. It was only morning, but it was obvious it will be hot day.

We went around the free areas, then we put on long trousers, Zuzka also jacket to hide her shoulders (prohibited to show at Buddhist temples), bought tickets and started to explore its central tower. It is amazing structure. It has steep narrow steps leading up to 2 terraces and together with surrounding towers they are decorated with sculptures and pieces of colourful porcelain not dissimilar to broken plates.

Next to it is hall with many Buddha statues.


Tower of Wat Arun from ferry. (Express boat stops at other bank of river, you need to use also ferry to get there)




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Grand Palace

We refreshed with coconuts and crossed river to visit nearby Grand Palace. We passed along local market where I could not stop looking at all those interesting delicacies they were selling.

Zuzka told us we will probably meet "helpful" locals who will try to persuade us Grand Palace is closed at this time, but we can go to visit other places first and return in evening. They even help us to get tuk-tuk.

And she was right. When we got to gate (not main one, but from other side) there was soldier talking with some local guy. He came to us, started chatting, asking us where are we from and similar. He told us that Palace is closed until later afternoon for foreigners, so that Buddhists can pray. And there are other attractions, many of them are free today. "Do you have a map? I can show you". Why not? We can learn something... "Do you know how to take tuk-tuk? Do you speak Thai? Good morning is 'Tu??ak' (sorry, he wrote it to our map, but it got smudged). Just tell it to driver". And he went to stop tuk-tuk that happened to be passing by us at that moment. But we said: "thanks, we will manage" and went to look for other gate. I guess that word was his name or billing address, so that tuk-tuk driver and all shop owners we would stop by would know where to send money.

Around the corner we found another gate with soldier (he refused to let us in), but next gate was correct. Also with label along the lines "do not believe helpful locals".

Whole area of Grand Palace is huge and nearly impossible to see it all in such hot weather (at least for us). We spent there several hours.

Phra Sri Rattana Chedi. It was impossible to take photo without people. I took several photos and Zuzka mixed them together effectively deleting people plus some more editing magic, but I have decided to show original. (She did so for her publication purposes, not for me :-) )
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A few details of decoration. Aren't they amazing?








Wat Phra - The Temple of the Reclining Buddha

After seeing Grand Palace we went to Reclining Buddha. We have not noticed we have been quite close to that temple when we got off the ferry from Wat Arun. We could save some time. The statue is 46m long.

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Wat Suthat

After drinking another coconut we asked local guy how much locals pay for tuk-tuk to get to Golden Mount. We thought he did not know English name, because he switched to speaking about Wat Suthat we originally decided to skip. But when he said it is free and we could see on the map it is close to Golden Mount we decided to give it a try. He immediately called nearby tuk-tuk and we realized he is one of them! (And Wat Suthat is not free either!).

We refused and looked for some tuk-tuk ourselves. But they asked 200 Baht. We liked more 40 mentioned by our former friend. We queried other drivers staying nearby. One tried to haggle - "OK, less, but with visit to one shop. Only one!"; "No thanks" we cannot buy more time in kiosk...

I am not 100% sure, but I believe we eventually found volunteer for 40 Bahts. Wat Suthat was bit weaker (by our newly acquired standards), but still nice and there were black statues of Buddha we have not seen before.


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Wat Saket

We decided to walk to Wat Saket (Golden Mount). It is close to Wat Suthat and if we went by shadowy side of street we should survive :-)

The first street we walked along has been occupied by shops of Buddha statues. There were tens of them. Most of them had statues directly on street, they were rather big, 1 up to 2 metres high. Next street has been occupied by door sellers and door making workshops. I guess Thais like to have competitors under surveillance. And the convenient way it is to have shop next to them.

Despite of shade when we arrived bellow Golden Mount we needed rest. So we sat shortly under big tree, before commencing our ascent by 318 steps.

I took only 3 photos there. This is the stupa at the top.

Baan Jim Thomson

We decided to alter our program slighly. We planned to go to Summer Palace today and to house of Jim Thomson tomorrow, but it is quite far away and we might have problem to get back on time to catch our flight. So we are going to visit Jim Thompson today...

No tuk-tuk wanted to take us there for less that 200 Baht. We asked about 5 drivers before we agreed on 200. Looking on Google Maps now it seems our driver decided to earn his money and took us by longer route.

Baan Jim Thomson (House of Jim Thomson) is the former house and garden of American entrepreneur who owned silk factory in Bangkok. It is his museum now. Very nice wooden houses, original Thai design, but modified and enhanced by Jim Thomson.

Unfortunately it was not possible to take photos and I refused opportunity to get a few snapshots after I took my camera out of locker.

Driver of tuk-tuk back to hotel has been really stubborn. Knowing we are at the "end of world" where competition is not so fierce he asked for 300Baht and we eventually agreed.

Sunset near Wat Arun

After some rest at hotel we rushed back to Wat Arun to get some sunset photos. But we came too late, sun was slowly setting. And place we were at was not very good. We started to search for something better, but the street going in parallel with water was quite long block of houses without any streets coming to waterfront.

I started to think everything is lost and the best thing is to return to ferry pier even is was not good. Still, during our return, I was peeking into gates, whether we could get to water. We ventured into some store house, just to find it is not street leading to water. But then I found another gate where we could see the light at the end. Peter was not very happy Zuzka and me rushed in, but he followed us.

Yes! It leads to water front! But then I spotted Thai family sitting next to water, what now? I am quite shy with strangers, but sun will set in couple of minutes... we will not get another chance. So I stepped closer, pretending I do not see them and took a few photos over their heads. I made sure, though, to show clearly I am not taking photos of them.

As we turned around we found many "photographers" behing us. Peter claims they saw us getting in and followed us. You are welcome! :-)