In Pictures: Wat Pho, What An Amazing Temple

If one is awestruck by the grandeur of the Grand Palace in Bangkok, then the experience is also mind-blowing at Wat Pho.  Wat Pho is one of the largest and oldest temples in Bangkok. It is also the birthplace of Thai traditional massage.  Located only 10 minutes walk from the Grand Palace, most visitors would visit Wat Pho as well, and is mainly to admire the Reclining Buddha.

The temple is open daily from 8.30am till 6.30pm and the entrance fee is THB100.

The Reclining Buddha is about 160 feet in length and is made of solid gold.

The feet of Buddha is inlaid with mother-of-pearls indicating 108 auspicious symbols (or characteristics) of Buddha. Why 108? The number refers to 108 positive actions and symbols that helped lead Buddha to perfection.

Because the main highlight of Wat Pho is the Reclining Buddha, most visitors particularly those on group tours do not spend more time to admire the other images of Buddha within the temple premises. Wat Pho is home to approximately 1,000 Buddha images!

If you have missed the other posts on Bangkok, click Grand Palace and Bangkok Buzz

 

Travel Theme: On The Edge of Sigiriya

(This post is linked to Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Edge)

Sigiriya is a massive rock of 600 feet high located in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. The rock is also called the Lion Rock in Sinhala. King Kasyapa built his palace on top of the rock and he built the gateway to the palace in the form of a lion. Sadly, the entire site and the palace were abandoned after the king’s death.

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We could have continued to climb from the Lion Staircase all the way to the top but climbers were warned about wasps attack. Wasps attacked a couple of tourists before and they ended up in the hospital. Those who wished to continue to climb were given hooded jackets to protect themselves from the wasps but many turned back halfway because there were many wasps flying around.

So we were almost on the edge of Sigiriya but not quite :-) Here are the images of how huge the Lion Rock is and the steps leading up to the top.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Dialogue

This week’s photo challenge Dialogue is to show “how photos, just like people, can communicate with each other”

The following images were taken during my trip to Bangkok in July.

The Grand Palace: The angle of the photo looks like the demon guard is communicating with the statue of the hermit doctor.

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Wat Arun: Literal meaning of a dialogue between two monks

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Travel Theme: Orange

(This post is linked to Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Orange)

The first time I went to Sri Lanka was in 2009. My friends and I were on our way from Colombo to Galle, and en route we stopped by for a mangrove river cruise (I can’t remember the name of the place). On this boat trip, from afar, I saw something orange on the bridge. As the boat cruised closer to the bridge, I realised it was a monk in saffron robes standing on the bridge.

How appropriate that this theme came up this week as coincidentally, I am setting off for a 6-day trip to Sri Lanka tomorrow (24th Aug). In 2009, I visited only Colombo, had spent a very short time in Kandy and explored the beaches of Galle. But this time – 5 years later – I’m back to explore the UNESCO sites.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Fray

Share a photo of what “fray” means to you — it could be a tear in a favorite pair of jeans, a street rumble just about to begin, or a friend diving into an oncoming wave at the beach.

In January this year, I was invited by a close friend of mine to experience the Thaipusam festival in his hometown. Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated on a grand scale in Malaysia, mostly by the Tamil community, and is observed in other countries where there is a significant presence of Tamil community such as India, Sri Lanka, Singapore and Mauritius.

This festival celebrates Lord Murugan who is the son of the supreme deity Shiva and consort Parvati, commemorating the time when Parvati presented Murugan a spear. The spear or Vel is a symbol of Parvati’s shakti or power to defeat the army of Surapadman, head of the demons. Therefore, it is believed that devotees pray to Lord Murugan to defeat the “daily demons” afflicting their lives, for example, illnesses, career blocks or infertility, and in return, devotees would take a vow to dedicate a kavadi to Him.

Kavadi means “sacrifice at every step” and bearing a kavadi is an act of devotion and humility. Kavadi can be in various forms – the simplest is devotees carrying a pot of milk (pal kudam) or couples who have been blessed with children over the past year will carry their babies in saffron slings suspended from sugarcane stalks. The more extreme acts of devotion, but nonetheless common are devotees piercing their backs, cheeks and tongues with hooks and spears.

Here are images of the kavadi carried by the devotees…I had wondered if they were frayed with nerves when they were pierced with hooks and spears – apparently not – but I was and filled with awe for them. If you would like to read more the Thaipusam festival, please click Colours & Drama: Thaipusam in Malaysia

In Pictures: The Grandeur of the Grand Palace, Bangkok

(*Apologies for the quality of the photos – it was a rainy and gloomy day when I visited the Palace)

The Grand Palace is undoubtedly one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bangkok. A trip to Bangkok would be incomplete without visiting the Grand Palace, in fact, it’s a must-see for any first-timer to the city.

Situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, the Grand Palace is an architectural symbol of Thailand. The palace was constructed in 1782 during the reign of King Rama I, the founder of Chakri Dynasty, and it served as the royal residence of the Kings of Siam until 1925. The Grand Palace is now used for official events such as royal ceremonies and state functions. The present monarch of Thailand, King Bhumibol Adulyadej currently resides at Chitralada Palace.

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Getting There

One thing I love about Bangkok is the ease of travelling to the main attractions within the city. BTS (Skytrain), MRT and river boat networks are easily interconnected, and the signages are very clear. The same is also clearly outlined in tourist maps, thus tourists would be able to understand and decide which place to visit and how to get there.

To get to the Grand Palace:

  1. Catch the BTS at Siam station heading to Bang Wa.
  2. Alight at Saphan Taksin station and exit to Central Pier to catch the river boat.
  3. Hop on to the Chao Phraya Tourist Boat to get to the Grand Palace. A Day Pass costs THB150 which gives you unlimited rides.
  4. Alight at Tha Tien Pier (N8) for the Grand Palace and Wat Pho. From there, it is a short walk to the palace.

Dress Code

There is a strict dress code when entering the Grand Palace (including Temple of the Emerald Buddha). No tank tops, see-through clothes, bare shoulders and no shorts. Shoulders and knees must be covered. However, if you are improperly dressed, there is a booth near the entrance that provides you clothes to cover you up properly (I believe a deposit is required).

Because of the strict dress code, do expect some kind of commotion at the entrance as every visitor would be screened for improper dressing. Such visitors would be called upon, prevented from entering the Palace grounds and directed to the booth to rent clothes to cover up.

I understand that not all tourists were informed of the dress code but I saw a woman wrapped a hotel towel around her shorts so that it could cover her knees! Needless to say, she was spotted and immediately was directed to the booth to rent clothes. A thought struck my mind – she obviously knew about the dress code but couldn’t she wear pants, a longer pair of shorts or a long skirt to cover her knees? Instead she brought the hotel towel!TH-20

Opening Hours & Entrance Fees

Opening Hours: 8.30am-3.30pm daily except during special royal ceremonies.

Entrance Fees: THB500 inclusive access to Wat Phra Kaeo, The Royal Thai Decorations & Coins Pavilion and Queen Sirikit Museum of Textile which are located within the Grand Palace compound, and to Vimanmek Mansion Museum.

If you wish to rent a personal audio guide, the fee is additional THB100.

The Grand Palace

The Grand Palace comprises numerous buildings, halls, pavilions, gardens and courtyards. It is partially open to the public as a museum but it remains a working palace with several royal offices situated inside.

The Galleries

The walls of the Royal Monastery grounds are painted with scenes from the Ramakien. The walls were painted since the reign of King Rama I, and have had been restored several times.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette

This week, experiment with light and capture a silhouette.

I have shared these silhouette images of my travels around Asia in a number of weekly photo challenges and travel themes..but I guess there’s no harm in showing them again ;-)

Lombok, Indonesia – Senggingi Beach

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Sabah, Malaysia – Tanjung Aru Beach

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Sabah, Malaysia – Filipino Market

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Siem Reap, Cambodia – Angkor Wat

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