Beware of Wily Strangers

This morning we were a bit lazy in pulling ourselves together. It seems we are either suffering from the effects of secondhand smoke or starting to get sick because we have both had flemmy throats start to creep up on us.  So, we decided to take it easy getting to things and make our first action of the day be to visit a pharmacy. The second action would be to visit the 4 must-see temples in Bangkok which we needed to be sure we were dressed appropriately for – no knees, no shoulders.

After breakfast and showers we headed out into the city at 11 a.m. hoping to happen upon a pharmacy on our way to Loha Prasat Temple (Metal Castle). In the 10 minute walk we were unsuccessful so we instead chose to start the tourist activities and hope that we would come across one sometime soon. As we were approaching Loha Prasat we were greeted by a man to informed us that the monks would be praying in the temple until 2 p.m. but we were lucky that the Lucky Buddha, only 2 km away, is open only one day a year and that day was today. Lucky us. He pulled out a map to show us and we both agreed that we could easily walk the distance there though he would rather we take his tuk tuk. Sorry man, we like to walk.

We started in that direction and swung by a 7-11 to pick up some very weak cough drops then entered the gates of the Golden Mount. We took a quick look in at the Lucky Buddha which was maybe .5 km away, maybe, then began the 300 steps that circle the hill. We were immediately taken by the scenery on the way. It started off similar to a rainforest with large trees and small waterfalls. Then the stairs were lines with Buddhist prayer bells concluding in a gong which we both enjoyed taking turns with. When we reached the top we were greeted with 360 degree views of Bangkok and the gold peak which stood out nicely against the white of the base.

Monks at Golden Mount
Monks at Golden Mount
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Bells lining the Golden Mount walkway
The sound of the gong. We also took a video because we enjoyed it so much.
The sound of the gong. We also took a video because we enjoyed it so much.
Golden Mount's gold tiles
Golden Mount’s gold tiles
The view of downtown Bangkok from Golden Mount
The view of downtown Bangkok from Golden Mount

We descended and pulled up a curb to determine what to do next. Reading about The Grand Palace we learned that there tend to be people who hang outside the main attractions and tell you that the attraction is closed so that they can take you on their tuk tuk elsewhere. This made us question our friend from the Loha Prasat so we chose to walk the .5 km back to see if it was actually closed. It was not. So we entered and enjoyed viewing the mini museum that was associated with it. Lynn learned that she will need to evoke the viriya-bala, or effort power, upon returning to the U.S. when she is in search of a job.

Loha Prasat, or Metal Castle
Loha Prasat, or Metal Castle
What Lynn needs when she returns to real life.
What Lynn needs when she returns to real life.

Disappointed in the 7-11 cough drops, Doug pulled up a map to figure out where to find a pharmacy on our way to The Grand Palace. Walking in that direction we noticed a number of shops selling Buddhist statues and other shrine items. The statues tended to be life sized which led us to believe that they were super heavy until we saw a man rolling one on a dollie and realized that it was hollow. That seems like cheating.

So many statues!
So many statues!

We found a pharmacy and were able to pick up some more very weak cough drops.  At this point Lynn decided that it was time to find some lunch so we ventured down a back alley which we’ve come accustomed to over the past month or so. Thanks to an English menu, we treated ourselves to some garlic and pepper pork and seafood with chili pepper, both covered in more spicy chili vinegar and only $4 USD with drinks.

Garlic and pepper pork
Garlic and pepper pork
Seafood with chillies
Seafood with chillies

After lunch we made our way to The Grand Palace, properly dressed. Working our way through the many crowds of tourists and their tour-guides we picked up tickets and ventured into the throngs and throngs of people. Despite this we very much enjoyed the grounds which were full of colorful buildings. Some were gold plated. Others had a more floral theme. And still others featured some very beautiful tile. We enjoyed them all. It was here we also saw The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the most sacred temple in Thailand, and the king’s throne.

Be wary.
Be wary.
Inside The Grand Palace
Inside The Grand Palace
Floral rooftops
Floral rooftops
Very pretty mirror and blue accents
Very pretty mirror and blue accents
Wall of The Temple of the Emerald Buddha
Wall of The Temple of the Emerald Buddha

We walked to nearby Wat Pho, famous for hosting The Temple of the Reclining Buddha, but not before having some more watermelon from a street vendor. The Buddha, one of the largest in Thailand, is 15 m high and 46 m long which was hard to capture with a camera.

Reclining Buddha with German couple for scale
Reclining Buddha with German couple for scale

3 temples down and 1 to go we started the 2 mile trek to Wat Arun, The Temple of Dawn, across the river. As is expected we were greeted by many tuk tuks offering us a ride which we politely declined and some longboat operators pointing us in the right direction when we made a wrong turn down another back alley. It’s unfortunate that they are restoring Wat Arun right now so we were unable to do the recommended activity: climb to the peak and watch the sunset over the city. However, we enjoyed seeing it anyway. With the restoration in progress we were able to see the stark difference between the pre-restoration pollution-stained structures and post-restoration brightness.

Wat Arun
Wat Arun

It was now 5 p.m. and Doug wanted some curry. Again, with the help of Google we found a well reviewed one 2 more miles away to took off in that direction stopping for some ice cream and water along the way. Navigating around bus stops, over pedestrian bridges, and through traffic we made it to the restaurant 1 hour later sweaty and in need of some necessary sustenance. We looked through the menu, sad to realize that it would be 4x as expensive as lunch, but we had walked all that way so there was no going back. Luckily the curries that we ordered were delicious as reviewed, so it was well worth the walk.

One of our curries
One of our curries

Still up for some more walking (and saving money) we hiked the 3 miles back to our hostel through Bangkok’s Chinatown where we promptly went to bed.

Daily Walking Mileage: 16.5

Fun Facts:

  • Bangkok to Thais is known as Krung Thep Maha Nakho, but it also has a ceremonial name: Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit.
  • It seems as though the going price of fruit on the road is 20 baht, the number given to us by the vendor each time we ask one. We’ve tried haggling for less, but are always declined.
  • We have visited many Buddhist countries now and Thailand is by far the most concerned about improper use of the Buddha image.
Inside The Grand Palace
Inside The Grand Palace
At Wat Arun
At Wat Arun

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