Wednesday, 27 January 2016

World's largest Golden Buddha

The last place we really wanted to see in Bangkok (I mean, the last place of our minimum of the minimum list, since we already saw the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and cruised the canals) was the China Town. And, in particular, Wat Traimit, aka the Temple of Golden Buddha.

A quick look at the map suggested that we should take off at either stop no. 4 or 5 of the water tram. There was hardly any difference in distance (as the map suggested). We decided to hop off at one of these stops and, later, hop on at the other. That way, we wouldn't have to walk the same way twice. Always a plus and more to see.

When our cruise down the canals ended (at stop no. 8, right next to Wat Pho, in case you were wondering), it started raining. And quite heavily. But by the time we were done with our lunch and back on the boat, it was already sunny.

The most important and most famous thing in the complex is the image of Golden Buddha. But not just any image. It's the world's largest image of Golden Buddha. It's 4 metres high and is made of 5 tonnes of 18 carat gold! That's a lot of jewellery you could make of it ;) It was made in 13th century in Sukhothai. In Traimit for twenty years it was covered with plaster shield and only in 1955, by a sheer accident (it fell off a crane during transportation and of the plaster cover got damaged), it was discovered that it was made of gold.

The figure is impressive. Huge. In order to enter the temple, you have to be properly dressed, of course. If you're not, you can rent (or be made to rent) some overalls.

Apart from seeing the insides with the Golden Buddha image (but not just that. And it's almost all covered with gold and crystals), it's also worth to have a look around the neighbourhood. In order to get into the temple, you have to climb a looot of stairs, so that makes it a good viewpoint.

Once we were done seeing everything around, we walked by the many food stands (all looked so delicious!) on our way to the pier. We hopped on the water tram, got to our hostel just in time to pick our backpacks and head to Khao San Road. We grabbed something to eat, something more to take with us on the way and boarded a night bus that took us to our next destination, away from the big city rush. 

Is there anything else you could recommend seeing or doing in Bangkok? Do you visit temples during your travels?
Travel Tuesday

Monday, 25 January 2016

Cruising the canals

We started our second day in Bangkok with cruising the canals.

First, though, we had to get to the right pier. With the water tram fiasco of the first day, we wanted to give the water trams a last chance. And we were not disappointed this time. Not only did we walk through a pretty little park with gorgeous tiny yellow birds playing in the branches of a big tree, but we actually got on the water tram. It's a cheap and very convenient way of travelling in Bangkok and we used it to the maximum this last day in Bangkok.

It turned out that once we got to our stop (the one closest to our hostel), there was a lady selling tickets for the trams. So we bought ourselves tickets and just waited for the tram to come. Nobody was making us move from the pier. There was no rush, no negative vibe. We got on the tram easily and got to our destination. Piece of cake. And we could have done it from the start, if only we knew... If only nobody was messing with us...

Just in case you were wondering, you can buy the tickets on the tram, too. And they're quite crowded. But what can you expect in such a huge city additionally packed with thousands of tourists.

We got to the pier right across the river from Wat Arun. We decided to get a two-hour cruise, cause we really wanted to see the canals. Not just the area right next to the Grand Palace.

We got to see places that I never expected to see. Though I already knew what Bangkok canals look like, cause I have seen pictures of them. But seeing it with my own eyes, was a bit of a shock.

Beautiful villas were standing side by side with shacks. Both were being lived in. Wonderful, colourful, richly ornamented temples and schools. And then something we'd call unused, devastated sheds, but these were still houses. People were sitting on their porches, right above water, enjoying their days. Waving at us and smiling at us. There was something disturbing in this picture, in this contrast. Yet, at the same time, it was so peaceful.

We also got to this some of the fauna of the Chao Phraya River. Fish that could play in horror movies or haunt you in your nightmares. Lizards (or whatever these were) that could join the fish in the haunt. And birds, that were just plain old birds ;)

Towards the end of our cruise it started raining. When we got off the boat, we went for lunch (delicious! In the bar right at the pier! Spicy is good!). In the meantime, it stopped raining. So we could continue our tour of Bangkok.

"Our" park and neighbourhood
Water trams (mind the flag at the rear end)
Wat Arun - yes, under renovation
And we're off
The Grand Palace as seen from Chao Phraya River

The pavement along the canal

Want a nice little fish?
Some have dogs as pets, some have cats...