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World on a Shoestring A beginnger's guide to traveling around the world...as written by beginners...

A Day in Historical Bangkok

THAILAND | Friday, 18 May 2007 | Views [1496]

If you wanted to visit every temple in Bangkok, but could only visit one temple each day, with no holidays, it would take you just under three years to see them all, assuming none were built during your sightseeing.
Fortunately, Gen and I have the liberty and ability to see more than one temple in a day, though we regrettably do not have the time to see all of the temples; if we were to attempt that, we would have to visit no less than 142 temples a day for the seven days we have in Bangkok. That’s a lot of tuk-tuk time.

With all that in mind, we decided to hit the highlights, the who’s who of Buddhist temples in Bangkok, without over doing it while also managing to not neglect the important ones.

As with everything, there are options as to how to get about seeing the temples. You can walk, though right about now, in Bangkok, the humidity is somewhere near 110% and still rain; you can take a cab from place to place, but we need money to eat at some point; or you could tuk-tuk it. If we haven’t already explained the tuk-tuk phenomenon, here goes: a tuk-tuk, for those of you who don’t know, is the front of a scooter, and the back of a rickshaw, and their drivers are out for the hard sell like used car salesman with empty pockets.

With our options presented, we went with the tuk-tuk as they offer the most unbeatable price: 20 THB to see all the temples, which will take the good part of the afternoon and morning. So in our tuk-tuk we jumped, and off we went.

Our fist stop was the giant Standing Buddha, or Wat Intharawihan, standing an impressive 32 meters tall (approx. 100 feet). With tourists around, you can have the time to yourself to enjoy the Buddha, just sit and relax, or even purchase the freedom of the caged birds for sale, which, as we understand it, helps to achieve merit in Buddhism.

Our next stop was the Lucky Sitting Buddha, known also as Wat Chugdee (sp?). An impressive, seated Buddha more than three meters high, this temple is a bit off the normal tourist route, so you’ll have some time to sit without being disturbed. It’s a very peaceful temple, beautifully but simply decorated.

Our third stop was our final stop for visiting posing Buddha’s, but our first in the sequence of the Holy Trilogy, the Reclining Buddha, or Wat Pho. It doesn’t get much bigger than this, literally. This is the largest Buddha in Bangkok, and the temple has the most Buddha images in the country.

Rounding out the Thrillology are the two remaining legs: Wat Arun, and the Marble Palace. Wat Arun is a steep stepped tower surrounded by smaller towers and elaborately decorated with Buddhas and warriors. At over 400 years old, the temple stands tall across the Chao Phraya River from the former residence of the king of Thailand, the Marble Palace, which is exactly that: a palace made of Italian Marble.

And that wraps up our trip through Bangkok’s history. Please join us again next week as we present an expert’s review of local cuisine.

Tags: Sightseeing

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