Be sure to read the “City of Memories” Introduction for a better understanding.
On this floor of Exploring Thailand, we’ll take a tour within the Grand Palace walls and its surrounding landmarks like Wat Arun. This will be our last floor in Bangkok, from here the floors are all in Krabi district. As for this floor, it’s a hot one with humidity at its peak and the sun showed no mercy for most of the day. We explored Temple of the Emerald Buddha and its surrounding landmarks at the peak of daytime. After we finished exploring what Temple of the Emerald Buddha had to offer, we stepped outside the Grand Palace walls and moved on to the surrounding landmarks.
Early in the morning, at our hostel, my friends and I searched for the places we had left to see. On my downloaded Bangkok map, I found a few saved pins in or within proximity to the Grand Palace. Although we couldn’t enter the Grand Palace, tourist were allowed in the Temple of the Emerald Buddha — a large area with beautiful structures only a few meters away from the Palace itself. We waved over a taxi and it dropped us off right by one intersection of the Grand Palace, near the Temple of Emerald Buddha.
Huge white walls surrounded the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The roads covering the perimeter were large and the cleanliness of them was clear compared to other roads. We walked around almost the entire perimeter just to find the entrance.
Our day had only begun, and we already felt the heat from the ball of fire thousands of miles above our heads. I purchased a water bottle that allowed me to restore some energy that I burned off from searching for the entrance. The sun was so intense, and noon was still around the corner. Thankfully, the person who sold refreshments was near the entrance, so we made our way to the ticket booth to purchase tickets.
And at that moment, we realized an important rule in Thailand. A rookie mistake that I’m sure we weren’t the only ones who made it. One reason I knew it wasn’t only for us is because the solution to the mistake was nearby. We wore shorts that day and like the experienced know (and of course the locals) shorts are not allowed in temples. There is a strict pants-only dress code. So instead of returning to our hostel and changing for pants, the three of us purchased Thai pants to wear over our shorts. A store near the ticket booth had pants for purchase (roughly 300 baht which converts to about $10).
Once entering the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, everyone seemed to follow their own path as there wasn’t a clear one that one was recommended. Basically, once you enter, you’re free to roam the area. Wherever your eyes pulled you, you go.
The sun had reached its highest peak by the time we were inside. It beat down on the crowded tourists who wanted nothing more than to explore the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The burning ball of fire sent its rays to us. The insides of my skin sizzled. And anyone who had a chance took refuge under a shaded area. There were hundreds of people walking around the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, like us, exploring to what it offered. Many had their phones raised, taking pictures of the detailed structure and the famous landmarks.
In some certain locations, there was barely any place to walk. They must attract more people than the others. Some people were in travel groups, some were alone, and others had tour guides. Many conversations from different angles merged into one, creating a cluster of languages.
Languages that were spoken from different parts of the world bounced around the inner walls of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Hard to pinpoint which language rose to the top, but I’d say it was between Thai and English that were the most dominate. Other languages that my ears picked up on were German, French, and Castilian (Spain Spanish).
At one point, tall statues gravitated my eyes. They were at least 25 feet tall. Each one held a sword, wore armor, and stood in a guarding position. The unique part of them were the details on their armor and face — so beautiful and colorful. Many of them were standing in a guarding position, as if guarding the structures of the Temple of Emerald Buddha buildings. Some of them had golden color, complementing the buildings with the area. Soon enough, our senses were in contempt with the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
We left the walls of Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, and crossed the Thai Wang Alley street to where Wat Phra Chetuphon (Wat Pho) rested. The reclining buddha was huge. On one end its hand held its head up, reclining on its right side, and on the other end its legs laid. A 151 feet long and 50 meters tall Buddha.
Walking outside again, clouds broke through the sun, cooling the surrounding weather. The sun disappeared behind the clouds, too afraid to break through them. We walked to the next landmark, a landmark that we decided we’d only see from across the river because our stomachs grumbled for more energy — more food.
The Wat Arun stood tall across the river. A long-tail boat crossed by as I took the picture, it slowly crossed by, as if, itself, was depleting of fuel. We looked out from the opposite end of the river, admiring Wat Arun from afar. But soon our attention broke as our stomachs pleaded more for food. Our bodies ran low on energy, so we sat down at the closest food shop and ate a late lunch.
For the rest of the day, we walked around until we reached our hostel. I checked the saved pins of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the surrounding landmarks off, and I was ready for the next adventure. We packed our belongs and prepared for our flight the following morning. Krabi was on my mind, more specifically, Ao Nang Beach and the adventures that lied ahead.