Thursday, January 09, 2014

Mind-blowing Bangkok

Today we went to the Grand Palace, a place of unimaginable splendor. Daniella calls it "the OCD Capitol of the World" since every inch of every surface is encrusted with jewels, mosaics, paintings, colossal sculptures, tinkling bells, and a grand slam of color and pattern. For those of us who have enjoyed the yearly productions of Mount Madonna's Ramayana, everything is familiar. Here were about 178 huge murals telling all the stories in this great epic. Statues of Rama, Sita, Hanuman, and the demons are everywhere. Tomorrow we will visit Ayuthya, the birthplace of the god Rama, where much of the Ramayana takes place.


One particularly ornate temple held the statue of the Emerald Buddha, carved from a huge emerald and sitting high up (50 feet?) on top of a heavily gilded altar. Since it is winter here, Buddha wears a cloak of diamonds wrapped around his body. Each time the seasons change, the king or now the prince, since the king is too old, climbs up a ladder and changes the garment. In the hot summer months, Buddha wears more of a diamond tank top, and each season has its particular outfit. As he changes the garment, the royal family member washes the statue. As he washes, he squeezes the water from the towel into a big basin. This becomes holy water that is placed in large fountains outside the temple. Believers come and dip a lotus pod into the water and then sprinkle themselves with it, as Kitch is doing in the photo below. Our lovely guide, Lada, showed us how to sculpt a lotus unto a rosette. We were not allowed to photograph the Emerald Buddha, but I can assure you that he was magnificently green and sparkly.

Tonight we capped off an already over-the-top day with a dinner cruise at sunset on our own little boat. It was balmy and refreshing to be out on the water after a pretty hot day in the city. We went up-river for about an hour, past glittering palaces, golden stupas, and all the modern buildings of downtown Bangkok. The beautifully lit up suspension bridge is the Rama Bridge, and multi-colored LED lights spray color across the taut cable structure. We had a great meal and lots of laughter and fun. Sleepy now!

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Location:Soi Sathon 1,ทุ่งมหาเมฆ,Thailand


Anina Van Alstine said...

looks like a wonderful trip!!!

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