Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace

March 31, 2007

Temple of the Emerald Buddha, and the nearby Grand Palace together is perhaps the greatest spectacle for the visitor to Bangkok. We arrived at midday, already the palace was baking in the high 30s.

Wat Phra Kaew is Thailand’s most important and sacred temple, so you’re expected to act with respect inside it. This is clearly explained in all the travel literature I’ve read, but yet surprisingly, European girls turn up wearing skimpy shorts and tops. No matter though, nearby stalls provide sarong rental.

Wat Phra Kaew houses the tiny (between 60 and 75 cm) Emerald Buddha, located high above the heads of the worshippers and tourists. I don’t remember actually seeing the Emerald Buddha. Tourists would hoard outside with their cameras straining to take pictures of the interior as photos taken inside are strictly forbidden.

Next on the tour was the Grand Palace. By now it was so hot, at least 40°+ inside the palace grounds. We followed a tide of tourists out of the Emerald Buddha complex south to the front of the palace. There were a few guards in ceremonial dress standing at the gates. Despite the large size of the complex you are only allowed to see about 10% of the Grand Palace.

We walked around for a good half hour, then Chris requested that we go get something to eat and drink.

We jumped aboard a tuk-tuk, and he took us to a local eatery. We had fondue bread – that is, bread with custard based dipping sauces. Near the end of the day, Chris took us for dinner near the Mekong, but I was feeling too run-down and faint to enjoy the food. In hindsight, it was a little crazy to go sightseeing jet lagged and unacclimated.

In fact the last port of call that day was the hospital. I was given salt tablets and instructed to take it easy; flaking out in the restaurant wasn’t fun. I’ll point out it did take at least three weeks to get used to the heat. A constant giddy feeling (or “sea legs” as Ben described it) was something I’d have to put up with.

 Getting map markers...