Friday, 9 November 2012

1 day in Bangkok

Our first proper day in Thailand. We arrived at lunchtime yesterday after a very easy journey. Our hotel is really nice and on our arrived upgraded us from a junior suite to a club room, which includes free drinks between 5 & 7 !!! Lovely !! Today we hired a private driver ( Mr Owen) from the hotel (5 hours for £ 25) and he took us to the Gold Buddha, then the Reclining Buddha, then to the Emerald Buddha at the Grand Palace. The Gold Buddha is huge over 3m and made of pure Gold. It was discovered in the  1950's when workmen moving what they thought was an old plaster Buddha to a new Wat accidently dropped it. Some of the plaster fell off to reveal the authentic Gold Buddha underneath. Imagine how the workmen must have felt initially about dropping it, only to find they had become national heroes !!  It is beautiful, but interesting as it looks quite masculine with a decidedly hooked nose. It dates back to the 13th century so at that point in time Thai people clearly saw the Buddha that way. Todays Buddha's look rather more androgenous, funny that- why ?!  And then to the Reclining Buddha, he is 45m long and is in the reclining pose ( otherwise known as the Lion pose) which is the  position Buddha took to die. He was AMAZin and I really loved this one. You walk through this long building painted beautifully with Buddhist stories and the Buddha reclines the full lenght. In gold. On the otherside of the room, at his back are 108 buckets. 108 is a very Auspicious number. For a small ammount of money ( 40p)  you can buy coins that you place in each bucket to bring good luck. Dennis did the business whilst I filmed him, it had to be done. This one was my favourite. Before we went into this, there was a smaller Wat where I was able to buy an offering and pay my respects to the Buddha, which I did, feeling a little nervious as the only one's doing this were Thai and I did not want to offend. But I did want to pay homage and give my own thanks for getting me through the last year.
Then over to the Grand Palace and the Emerald Buddha. The Wats surrounding this one are especially lovely- rich and opulent. The Buddha itself is much smaller- about 1m high, However it is made of pure Jade and given much respect as it possesses healing powers. We were not allowed to photograph it, although I hopefully have a good pic from my camcorder taken on zoom outside. We were running out of time at this point, and beginning to suffer the effects of jet lag and the heat, so didnt spend so much time at the Grand Palace itself. But to be honest my interest is purely in the Buddist aspect, so I saw what really mattered to me.  Having said that I am, as always, really intrigued by the way Hinduism and Buddism entwine. Here its Buddha that gets all the Marigold flower offerings, but there was a Shiva Lingum at the Reclining Buddha site, how do you make sense of that ?  Now off again for dinner, feel so happy and this is only first day, how does it get better than that ?

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