How to See Bangkok in Two Days. Day 2
We started the morning with desperate attempts to find at least something suitable for visiting the Grand Palace, for all people that we talked to emphasized the strict rules in clothing. There shouldn't be almost any body parts visible: no sandals or flip-flops, no bare shoulders or legs, no belly showing, no shorts or short skirts as well as any stripe-less or spaghetti-striped tops and you can't cover your shoulders with a scarf or a shawl, no leggings or tight pants, the outline of your legs shouldn't be showings as well. At the entrance a guard looks over the way you're dressed and lets you through or sends you off to borrow a right kind of outfit. This service is free but requires a little deposit, which is returned at the exit. It's also necessary to come in advance since you may spend at least 30 minutes in a queue.
The Grand palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha are on a must-see list. Foreigners have to pay in order to see the palace, for Thai people it's free of charge. Once you get inside, you stop. That's it, all thoughts disappear except for never-ending "wooooooooow". The palace and the temple are so magnificent and mesmerizing that it's almost impossible to describe them. Gold, silver, mosaics, pastel, demons, dragons, flowers, glass, marble, carved wood, enamel, jade and gold again. You can't believe this miracle was created by the hands of men. When you enter the temple your clothes is looked over really carefully again and you are asked to take off your shoes. In Thailand you can enter any temple only barefoot, no matter what religion you are. Later, on our visit of other temples in Bangkok we figured it might be some kind of a way to show your humbleness, since you also have to take the shoes off in order to come up to the altar. And usually the altars are right in the street and constructed of marble or stone. You can imagine how it feels to walk on marble in the blazing sun and with no shadow to cool your feet down. Nevertheless, Thai people are extremely religious; they are awed by their temples and are deeply respectful to the monks. For example, in all airports there is a VIP lounge or seating especially for monks, monks also don't have to queue anywhere at all. And we were told that every Thai man has to spend a year as a monk, after which he can choose to continue his servitude or go back to everyday life.
One more amazing thing about the Grand Palace is a model of Angkor Wat - a huge temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The tour guide told us that the king of Thailand ordered to build this model to commemorate the Thailand's victory in war against Cambodia. As a victor he could ruin the temple but chose not to. And now the only way the Angkor Wat can fit in a single photo is if you take a picture of this model in Bangkok.
In the afternoon we decided to find the Big Buddha temple. This Buddha is 40 meters high, which makes him the tallest in Bangkok. For some reason we thought we would be able to see it from afar. Great misconception which lead to a four-hour quest, during which we managed to find a flower market, a fruit market, buy absolutely inedible green tangerines, find a car workshop that fixes awesome retro cars and bikes. We did find the Buddha, at the sunset, he turned out to be much smaller than we had imagined but still dignified. He waved us good-bye and we left to pack and head for the airport.
A couple more impressions in Bangkok:
- the friendliest subway staff and police ever. 5 people in three different subway stations helped us to get to our hotel. Three of them actually called the hotel to find out the directions;
- an ATM installed into a car. I just kept wondering if some unlucky tourist ended up without money because his bank card literally took off. Hope not);
- numerous pot-plants growing right in the streets (don't confuse with pot/ weed - drugs are illegal in Thailand);
- people taking TV outside to watch Muay Thai fights with the whole neighborhood and inviting you to join them (the most popular sport in Thailand with numerous schools all over the country);
- deadly heat - you have no choice but to hide from it in every coffee shop, or it will just crash you right in the street.
One thing that we saw only from afar is the famous Wat Arun or the Temple of Dawn with its marvelous stone peaks. It's a shame, but after all, I do have a rule to leave something special for later, so that there would definitely be a reason to come back.