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                               GRAND PALACE & WAT PO,  BANGKOK, THAILAND

Bordering the eastern bank of Chao Phraya in Bangkok, the Grand Palace and Wat Pho form a veritable Vatican City of Thai Buddhism. Many Thais make religious pilgrimages here.

Wat Po

Wat Po is Thailand's largest and oldest temple, predating the Chakri dynasty. It's first buildings were constructed in the 16th century and the grounds are still home to 300 monks.


Reclining Buddha

Virtually filling the chapel the thick brick and gold statue is 46 meters (150 feet) long and 15 meters (50 feet) high, depicting the dying Buddha on his side awaiting his escape to Nirvana

The soles of his feet are intricately laid
mother-of-pearl

There are 108 auspicious signs which distinguish a true Buddha and we dropped a coin into the pot for good luck.

Stone statues in strange positions are Hindu hermits once used to instruct illiterate people of the nature of illness and massage methods

There are many mythical statues, Confucius seemed to be a favorite.

Statues like this demonstrate the important influence of the Chinese merchant community in SE Asia.

Royal Chedis

Next to the Reclining Buddha is an enclosure holding the four largest of the temple's 95 chedis. All of the chedi at Wat Po are square, decorated with ceramic tiles and three dimensional ceramic pieces which form intricate floral patterns.

Inside the Ordination Hall is a magnificent alter with a large Buddha, all finished in gold and crystal.

The large grounds of Wat Pho contain more than 1000 Buddha images in total

The Grand Palace

The Grand Palace complex was established in 1782 and it houses the throne halls and also a number of government offices as well as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Covering an area of 218,000 square meters, it is surrounded by four walls, 1900 meters in length. The Grand Palace is nowadays used only for occasional ceremonial purposes and is no longer the royal residence.

We walked to the Palace from our hotel but had difficulty finding the main entrance. As we circumnavigated the boundary walls, we were continually told that we could not enter the premises by guards at the various gates. We were even told numerous times by various seemingly helpful Tuk tuk drivers that the Palace was closed. But I had been forewarned about these ploys to lure tourists away to "gem scams" so we continued our hike until we finally did indeed find the main tourist entrance.

There was a dress code to enter the Palace and a rather substantial charge. Numerous tour guides immediately approached but we opted to explore the grounds on our own.

We entered the Palace Grounds and were astounded at the ornateness of the buildings, their flamboyant architecture, guided gold, over-elaborate roof structures with layers of tiers and spires reaching skyward.


Temple of the Emerald Buddha

(Wat Phra Kaeo)  lies within the same ground as the Palace. Despite the proximity of the two, there's a distinct contrast in style between the very Thai Wat Phra Kaew and the more European inspired designs of the Grand Palace (the roof being the exception). It is where people convene and pay respect to the Lord Buddha and His Teachings.

The Emerald Buddha itself is a disappointing 30" high, carved from a block of jade, once hidden inside a layer of stucco. It is enshrined on a golden traditional Thai style throne of gilded carved wood, rich marble pediments and mosaic encrusted pillars.

Wat Phra Kaeo consists of over 100 brightly colored buildings, golden spires and glittering mosaics, and dates back to 1782, when Bangkok was founded.

Gilded golden Buddha's line the interior walls in the orientation Hall.

At the gate are 6 meter tall demon statues inspired by the Ramekin.

The Monastery consists of all architectural features of a Buddhist monastery but without residential quarters as no monks reside here.

Dating form 1789, Throne Hall, used for the annual Coronation Day ceremony, has an exquisite mother-of-pearl inlaid throne. The four tiered roof is topped by a seven tiered spire.

The mausoleum of the Royal Family contains the ceremonial ashes of a number of members of the royal family

Scattered around the terraces were statues of elephants and mythical beings, temple guards an images depicting various Gods. Gilt chimeras, part-human and part-animal, line the upper terrace. These graceful creatures seem to combine human and feline characteristics. The models of elephants, a symbol of good fortune, are a record of the famous white elephants acquired during the reign of the various kings of Thailand.

Thaïs pray to the Emerald Buddha.

These pillar like structures are called "praangs".

Ginny with her new friends. Not much for conversation though.

What could be better after a day of trudging miles around so many wats.... a foot massage & a cold beer!!

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