Published: June 26th 2012June 26th 2012
The train ride was actually quite enjoyable all things considered. Some might say tolerable? We did head to bed pretty early, and it was quite fun to see the long train car lined with pink numbered curtains over our berths. I was on the bottom and was rather comfy, but the top bunks were a bit tight. It was a beautiful ride through some stunning scenery. Most of the trip during the daylight hours was through the country side with tended rice fields. Pretty cool to see rural areas. Our other train ride was along mainly city/developed areas and we couldn't see much so this one made quite an impression on me.
We arrived late to Bangkok, a good couple of hours late. This put us out on the streets at the hottest part of the day. However, the Grand Palace and Wat Pho was on the agenda, and four of us were determined. It was quite a miserable "trudge" down the urban road - it was probably not much more than a mile to the entrance of Wat Pho, but it was a trek in the heat! And the miles of massive tour buses, which oozed miles of tourists,
did not bode well for us intrepid individual travelers.
It was all worth it! Wat Pho (I can't even begin to spell the full name) is where the largest reclining buddha, uhmmm, reclines. It's massive, gold leafed, and has the most intricate mother-of-pearl inlaid feet. The temple is in the middle of a gorgeous complex with many, many chedis, or temple like structures. Each of them covered with complicated ceramic tiles in a range of designs.
After Wat Pho, we were determined to plug along and visit the Grand Palace, a historic structure that also houses the emerald buddha. For those of you who know about my teip to Paris, it was my Louve. I just couldn't handle the heat and the packed mass of humanity. I ditched it in favor of a slighter cooler space in the minimum shade and a bottle of water. Two of our party were tough and went on in search of the emerald buddha, while I had the company of Rachela. After our group rejoined, we somehow managed to get back to the hotel for a nap! I didn't even have enough energy left to shower before dropping to the bed.
We met up with our new group in the evening. We left a few behind in Chiang Mai, and a few more left the group in Bangkok. We picked up six new members for the trip south to the islands. Our morning began with a new mix of travelers headed to one of the most historic wats in Thailand. Wat Arun is reachable from our side of Bangkok by ferry. It's beautifully decorated - also with imported ceramic tiles. We were told the king at the time (I think at the time of the third major dynasty???) had a strong relationship with China and the tiles were imported. There is a steep, steep staircase on each of the four sides. The view of the surrounding area and the river from the top is spectacular.
We returned to the hotel, took some of our Thai treasures to the local post to lighten our load, grabbed a refreshing shower and some lunch and boarded another train. Tonight
is a different style of train, still manageable but not as comfortable. Let's see what the night has to bring.
There are more photos below