Buddhas, Buddhas, Buddhas
At the moment it is 4:15 p.m. Bangkok time on December 10th. I wrote this last night but was unable to post it until now:
I am loving Bangkok.
So far, the city has provided me with diversity in my transportation (skyline/ell, metro underground, bus, tuk tuk, water taxi); language (I lost count of how many languages I have heard in the past two days); food; people…the list continues.
After trying to get to bed early last night and failing (I ended up wide awake and watched the Nicholas Cage version of “The Apprentice”), I woke up, got ready and went down the street for breakfast. The woman from yesterday recognized me and made me the same Pad Thai – no seafood. The nice thing is, it is add your own spice, peanuts, and bean sprouts. Yum. But of course, that was not enough – after all, I have access to all of this fresh fruit, as I mentioned yesterday. So on my way to the Peace Corps office for my appointment, I had fresh carrot/passion fruit juice – what a fabulous combination!
Unfortunately, I got off the bus waaaaaay too soon. So I walked until I saw another bus stop and got on a bus – the very same one I had already
been on. Luckily, I was not re-charged for my re-entry. Not that it is EXPENSIVE but still, it was nice (I know OTHER COUNTRIES where I would have been re-charged).
Speaking of fabulous – the Peace Corps Thailand compound – wow. Wow. Their lounge is at least four times the size of ours in Ukraine (and they have 105 volunteers in country), with tons of books. I met the people in the doctors’ office, as well as the country director (though we did not really chat). I also met and spoke with a couple of volunteers who invited me to go with them to their training village tomorrow. I am going to try to do so after my doctor visit, if it is possible. But first to get through the visit and see what happens then.
After deciding The Grand Palace was not going to happen today (it closed at 3:30 and I left PC at 1:15), I decided instead on Wat Arun, otherwise known as Temple of Dawn. Of course on the way there I had to stop and have a snack – it was lunchtime after all and pineapple it was this time! I cannot describe enough just how much I am enjoying all of this fruit.
Wat Arun was beautiful but as the guidebook described it, “you can climb the central prang, but be warned: the steps are treacherously tall, narrow, and steep – and even more precarious coming down.” Um, no kidding! I noted that it was good that Thailand does not get ice and snow because they would be crazy dangerous if it did! There are also some really nice grounds there, which are quieter than the “main attraction” – I am noticing that a lot of people go for the “main” thing and miss the other areas.
After exploring War Arun a bit, taking photos of a few folks for them, and talking to a military dentist who is stationed on Guam (and his wife), I decided it was time to move on. After consulting the guidebook I got at the PC lounge, I found out that Wat Po was not far, so I decided to stop in there as well – after all, it was close and I wanted to see the famous reclining Buddha.
One description of Wat Po is that it is “among the most photogenic of all the wats in Bangkok” – this is true. After visiting the huuuuuuuuuuuge Buddha (more than 140 ft long and 50 ft high), I was one of the few who wandered around the whole compound. On the grounds are 91 chedis (stupas or mounds), four vilharns (halls) and a bot (the central shrine in a Buddhist temple).
Photos aplenty did I take while walking the grounds of Wat Po – we will see how many turn out! I am even getting better at turning my small camera on myself to take photos to “prove” I have been at these places…and Wat Po, like the other wats, has buddhas, buddhas, and more buddhas. Wow are there a lot of small Buddha statues, dedicated by the faithful.
After Wat Po, I decided I was ready to head back to my hotel, though slowly. Along the way I found Bangkok’s “India neighborhood” and had a fabulous dinner at a hole in the wall restaurant – my most expensive meal yet at 90 baht (or $3). It was a fabulous neighborhood and it was really
wonderful to see such diversity – signs written in Hindi and Thai, and the products available – wow! Good thing I don’t have a lot of shopping instinct left in me!
And speaking of shopping – it is simply amazing the number of “markets” that are set up. When I was looking for the water taxi to Wat Arun, I knew I was in the right area because (1) there were so. many. vendors and (2) because the prices of everything from food to tote bags, clothing, jewelry and everything else was increased.
While finding my way to the central rail station to take the metro, I finally found Chinatown and with all of the vendors, I could not resist “splurging” on fresh pomegranate juice”. I mean fresh – the vendors, lined up side by side, knock the seeds out of the pomegranates and then use a manual squeezer to get the juice out of them. It did not last long! I asked someone along the way about the train station and all she said was “it’s far from here”. Hmm. I followed my instinct anyway, and ended up by Wat Traimit, or the temple of the golden Buddha, where I had been yesterday. I sat for a few minutes and listened to the monks chanting, and saw men keep going in there and taking photos. I “asked” ( by gestures) if I could and got a shake of the head, so I was on my way – they are able to go in and take FLASH photos but I cannot go in and take non-flash photos? Hmm – unfair!
Unfortunately, though my instinct led me to the train station, after I got off at the correct stop I took a wrong turn and ended up going back along the Metro line. By this time I was getting pretty tired and was thus irritated with myself for doing this. So I got back on the Metro, went one more stop, and then got on the right track. After that, it did not take long for me to get back to the hotel but I was surprised that by the time I got here, it was already after 8:15 p.m. I gotta say, my feet and legs are a little bit tired…seven hours of nearly solid walking does take its toll. But I am so glad I have had the opportunity to do a little exploring – maybe I will have a chance to do some more…
As of this moment, there is nothing new because I spent all day on medical stuff, just ate, and now want to relax!