Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Kings, false teeth and aphrodisiacs

Our second day in Bangkok took us to the Grand Palace, and the Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho, this Buddha being the largest Buddha in South East Asia. We were disappointed at not being able to see the Emerald Buddha at Wat Phra Kaeo. That is because, curiously enough, this image of the Buddha dons a new outfit for each of Thailand's three seasons and yesterday was the day for a costume change! The King of Thailand himself changes the costume by climbing up to the image that sits on a high gold altar and cannot be lowered for anyone, even the king. Because of this important ceremony the Grand Palace and the temple closed at 2pm, and the Emerald Buddha was off limits all day. His picture is in todays paper however, along with the Crown Prince who is dressing him in his summer outfit.
Visiting the Grand Palace that was the official royal residence of the kings of Siam until 1946, was an experience in itself. The opulence of the buildings and grounds is astounding. And it made me want to see the the King and I (Yuk Brunner...remember?) all over again.

                                             Building in Grand Palace Complex

                                                  Wat Pho Reclining Buddha

At theses sacred places everyone is required to cover up legs and arms and to walk barefoot in the temples, which is in stark contrast to the sidewalk stalls that line every street throughout the city. Here we walked through narrow passageways, often sidestepping around large pots of hot coals over which barbecued meat was cooking. There were kiosks selling movies of all types, essential oils and various herbal powders with supposed aphrodisiac properties. We passed at least four stands selling false teeth...the real thing, with the "choppers" displayed behind glass covers. I wonder how one gets the right fit. And where do these sets of pearly whites come from?
Last night before supper we strolled along the streets near our hotel. The streets come alive at night. There are food stalls everywhere, as well as mobile bars plying their trade from old VW Westfalias. And every second shop is a massage parlour, some more questionable than others. Our guide book describes a lively red light district around the Nana skytrain  station. But the girls we saw sitting in the fronts of these businesses where definitely not the Nanas we associate with the word!

No comments:

Post a Comment