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Temples & Buddhas

THAILAND | Thursday, 15 May 2008 | Views [508]

Every few metres I find myself harrassed by tuk tuk and/or taxi drivers who want to drive me somewhere. I am fully aware that most of these drivers are trying to con me out of my money somehow. The most common ploy is to say that the tourist attraction that I was intending to visit is closed, and that I should go to see a certain other temple instead, and then they take a detour to a fake gem shop or tailors. More often than not, the recommended sight is called Big Buddha.

Well, anyway, it has become second-nature now to not believe a word that any Thai person says - or at least, believe it with a bucket full of salt. So after I heard the same story about 4 times from various pple about today being a 'special day' for Thais which has resulted in the government incentivising the use of tuk tuks to explore the temples - well, naturally, i figured that 4 different pple cannot be propogating the same lie and therefore it must be true. So I managed to get a tuk tuk driver to take me to all the touristy temples in Bangkok and wait for me while I visited them. The cost of this 3-hour ride? A mere 20 Baht (or rather, 33 pence)!

Some of the temples were more spectacular than others. I found that a particularly hyped up temple was the Grand Palace, which houses the Emerald Buddha. Now, do not get me wrong, the Palace was aesthetically pleasing. But...I don't know, it just seemed too sterile, too clean-cut, and too much like a Hollywood stage-set. As my guidebook correctly says, it looks as if it was built yesterday. For me, this took away most of the cultural dimension to the place.

I spent the evening with a Kenyan guy from Vancouver who I met in one of the restaurants while I was figuring out where to go next. I found him to be really good company - not the typical foreigner who I had seen/met up to this point. He was travelling alone through South-East Asia, having just spend 4 months in India. We had a few Singha beers together, followed by dinner, and yet more beers + shisha into the early hours. The conversation flowed quite naturally, particularly since we were both solo travellers. In fact, in the space of those few hours, I believe we established a strong friendship. I hope to be able to visit him in Vancouver or Nairobi one day in the future, depending on where he decides to settle down.

Close-up of figurine in Grand Palace

Close-up of figurine in Grand Palace

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