Thursday, 3 February 2011

Bangkok trip – 3 Feb 11

We woke up a bit later than planned as we turned in quite late yesterday night. After having breakfast in the hostel, we head to our first destination - Grand Palace. As there are no BTS or MRT near the Grand Palace, the only mode of public transport is Chao Phraya Express Boat. We took BTS from the hostel to Saphan Thaksin station where the Sathorn Pier (Central Pier) is located.
Dayview of Lebua Hotel

We asked the counter whether Chao Phraya Express tickets are purchased here but we couldn't figured out what that guy is talking. We asked again and eventually we figured out that the tickets are purchase and pay on board. The tickets sold here are for boarding the Chao Phraya tourist boat.
Sathorn Pier (Central Peier)

Actually we didnt know which boat to board but since we saw many people flocking to this boat, we just followed.
Passenger alighting the boat
A tourist boat?

There is a ticket selling going around the boat to collect boat fare. She holds a metal cyclinder containing coins and tickets and claps the cyclinder while she's making her rounds. She has a super powerful memory as she seems to know who has paid and who hasn't.
Ticket seller
Tickets purchased
Longtail boat
Locals living along the river
Passing under a bridge
Temples along Chao Phraya River
Wichai Prasit Fort
Wat Arun
Grand Palace

After 20min, we reached Tha Chang Pier and alighted the boat. From the pier, it's about 10min to the Grand Palace. Just follow the crowd and you can't be wrong.
Long white wall surrounding the Grand Palace

The admission fee is THB350 ~ S$15 which is relatively expensive but how can one visit Bangkok without visiting the Grand Palace? 
Before we reach the admission ticket counters, there are some officials who will screen out the visitors for inappropriate dressing. Grand Palace has a strict dress code: Ladies must cover their upper arms and legs down to the thigh, while men must wear long trousers and at least a T–shirt. Only my sis pass the dress code criteria even though the rest of us wore shorts which is below the knee level. My sis wore a dress that is above the knee and yet it's appropriate. It seems that dress are allowed even if it's above the knee. Hence, the rest of us have to rent a sarong which is free but is required to pay a deposit of THB200 ~ S$9 each which is refunable on return.

The Grand Palace served as the official residence of the Kings of Thailand from the 18th century onwards. However the present king of Thailand, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, resides at the Chitralada Palace.

The Grand Palace in Bangkok is definitely grander than the Grand Palace in Phnom Penh.
Notice the unique shape of the tree?
Thotkhirithon, giant demon guarding exit of Grand Palace
Gold shimmering chedi and building

Wat Phra Kaew is the most sacred temple in Thailand and is located within the precincts of the Grand Palace. The Emerald Buddha is craved from a single piece of jade (Emerald in Thai means deep green colour and not the specific stone). No one is allowed to touch the Buddha except the King who changes the cloak three times a year, corresponding to the summer, winter and rainy seasons.

The legendary history of this Buddha image is traced to India, five centuries after the Lord Buddha attained Nirvana, till it was finally enshrined in Bangkok at the Wat Phra Kaew temple in 1782 during Rama I's reign. While legend traces this statue to India, its rich historical records dates its finding in Cambodia in the 15th century, moved to Laos in the 16th century and then to Vientiane where it remained for 215 years, and finally to Thailand in the 18th century.
Wat Phra Kaew
Qilin guarding Wat Phra Kaew
The best zoom that I can snap a photo of the Emerald Buddha
Gold serpents
Purple lotus flower
Minature of Angkor Wat
Nok Tantima - mythological creature, half bird, half man
Murals depicting story of the Ramakien of the first reign version

Phra Maha Monthien is where the coronation of the monarch takes place.
Guan Gong guarding the door of Phra Maha Monthien

Dusit Maha Prasat Hall is the venue for the lying-in-state of deceased kings, queens and honoured members of the royal family.

Dusit Maha Prasat Hall

The base of Chakri Mahaprasat Hall houses the royal guards and a collection of ancient weapons is displayed in the arcades along the building's front.

Its unusual design is due to some controversy during its construction. Rama V wanted an entirely western look to his new home, but others in the court argued that the king's residence and throne hall should reflect Siamese motifs. Thus the domed roof was replaced by a Thai styled roof. Thai nickname for this building is the 'westerner with a Thai hat'.
Chakri Mahaprasat Hall
Royal guard
Wat Phra Keo Museum

By the time we finished touring Grand Palace, it's already 12.30pm and we had our lunch at a stall outside Tha Chang Pier.
Stalls outside Tha Chang Pier
Steamed rice with fried pork, cheese and vegetables
Mango & fig

Although Wat Pho is behind Grand Palace, I wouldnt advise to walk from Grand Palace to Wat Pho as the Grand Palace compound is surrounded by a long wall perimeter. We took Chao Phraya Boat from Tha Chang to Tha Tien, which is a stop away.
The Chao Phraya Boat is so pack!!!
Unglam sight of Chao Phraya

Wat Pho is the oldest temple in Bangkok and is famous for the huge Reclining Buddha statue it houses. Wat Pho is also famous as Thailand's first university, and is center for traditional Thai masage.
Entrance of Wat Pho
The Reclining Buddha
This Buddha is longer than one in Penang
The Reclining Buddha's mother-of-pearl feet

At the back side of the reclining Buddha, there is a small tables where a bag of 50-satang coins are sold at THB20 and you can plunk them one by one into the row of copper pots for good luck. 
Plunking coins into one of the 108 coin pots
Souvenir shop
Symmetrical Chedis
Drawings of Thai massage inscribed on stones
Row of Buddhas
I like the colourful roof tiles

I wanted to try the massage at Wat Pho but the waiting time is 1hr! I wanted to wait but my sis dont want. I had a squabble with her as I only plan to visit Wat Arun at 3pm and it's only 1.30pm now. My left foot is becoming a bit swollen due to a lot of walking and my dad is against going to Wat Arun as the steps there are steep. In the end, we decided to visit Dusit Palace.
Rate of Thai massage
Massage center

It was quite hard to flag a taxi outside Wat Pho and some of the taxi drivers don't seems to know Dusit Palace even though I show them the photo. Finally we found one who know as I show him the Thai word for Dusit Palace - พระที่นั่งวิมานเมฆ It's useful to ask the hotel to write the Thai word of the places where you are going.
Rama VII bridge

The admission ticket to the Grand Palace includes admission to Dusit Palace (the white portion) and is valid for 7 days from the day of purchase. By the time we reached Dusit Palace, it's already 3pm and we are just in time for the last English tour. My dad, mom and I had to rent the sarong again and our belongings have to be store in the locker.
Tour schedule of Vimanmek mansion

Dusit Palace is the compound of the royal residences which are constructed in western style. The foremost is Vimanmek mansion, which is the largest teak building in the world. Although the building is European in style, it was constructed according to traditional Thai building methods and without the use of nails. We have to removed our shoes before entering Vimannek mansion and stored it at the basement. No cameras are allowed in the mansion. After the tour, we are then allowed to take photograph of the exterior of Vimanmek mansion.

I only realise there are other residential halls in Dusit Palace while blogging the trip. ><" From the photos on google, Ananda Samahom Throne Hall and Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall are also worth paying a visit.
Vinamek mansion

There is a souvenir shop at Dusit Palace and is selling different flavours of ice cream at THB18 ~ S$0.80.
Black bean and durian ice cream
Suan Hong Residence Hall

We took a cab back to Sala Daeng BTS station and had our dinner before walking back to the hotel. We also bought some food on the way back to the hotel.
Kway chap

We changed to a new room again and among the 3 rooms that we have stayed, this is the nicest room. There is an attic and beds for 5 guests.
Sea breeze room
Mango sticky rice, banana pancake and otah

1 comment:

Shelyn said...

Interesting, you've been to so many countries and places every year! Very nice photo travel blog.