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Published: January 16th 2009
Bangkok is a sprawling city of congested traffic, dirty air, street vendors, food stalls, river boats, opulent palaces and incredible temple grounds. Taxis are cheap and are the easiest means of transportation even with the constant traffic jams. In 2 days we were able to see the Grand Palace grounds, visit 3 Wats (temples), inspect the Royal Barges, check out the old Oriental Hotel and complete all the travel arrangements for our trip to Burma/Myanmar.
The temples and the Grand Palace are amazing places covered with glass and porcelin embellishments. Much of the porcelin, used to cover the stupas, was once used as ballast in ancient Chinese ships. Over the years it was recycled and cut into various shapes to create the facades of the many stupas. The temple grounds are nice quiet retreats from the noise and frenetic pace of the city.
The Buddhas are everywhere and we have probably seen over 100 already. The most important one in Bangkok is a 26 inch jade Buddha that is called the Emerald Buddha. It is housed in a temple at the Grand Palace. Most Buddhas are covered in gold leaf which is applied by the many people who go
to the temples to pray. While most Buddhas are shown sitting or standing, the reclining Buddha in Wat Po has a special significance. When the Buddha is reclining it symbolizes that he has reached Enlightenment. All other positions symbolize his quest for Enlightenment. The Wat Po temple is the largest and the oldest in the city. The reclining Buddha it houses is 150 feet long.
At the Royal Barges Museum we were able to view 8 of the barges used by the Royal family for special holiday celebrations. Many of these date back to the early 1800s. The barges are carved from a singe teak tree and are powered by 50 or more oarsmen. Our walk to the entrance of the museum led us through one of the old canal neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are hard to find as the high rise buildings have destroyed this bit of old Bangkok.
We are now in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia on the island of Borneo. This is the first new stop for us and should be a highlight of the trip. Today, we saw the Orang Utans in the rain forest. What a thrill that was!!! And, yes, it is raining in
the rain forest. But, it's a warm rain!!
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