The sun was smiling at us when we arrived at Tha Tien; pier #8. Instead of taking a left out of the pier market, we took a right and ended up at Wat Pho, the temple of the reclining Buddha. We weren’t quite sure what temple we were in when we got there, but we knew it was good.
At first, it seemed like just a small building from the entrance. You have walk through little prayer building (or around it) to get to the main outdoor courtyard. The entrance fee is 100 Baht per person.
Once the courtyard, it hits you! Tiles, dazzling like gems in the sun shine. Beautiful gold rooftops. Glittering, vibrant multi-coloured structures with Chinese type roofs and Indian curved architecture. The courtyard floor is stone with huge fountains and statues everywhere. It is so beautiful to look at, I instinctively wanted to take all my pictures on this one spot. Pace yourself, I had to keep telling myself.
Wat Pho is one of the oldest wats in Bangkok. The courtyard is massive with series of smaller courtyards that lead into each other. Kind of similar to the layout of some parts of the
Forbidden city in Beijing.
Thais are deeply religious and offer prayers and their respects to the Buddha. Whenever they see a statue in the road they will bow their heads of fold they hands and offer respects, much like India whenever you pass a good or temple. On outer walls of some of the buildings have paintings of the Buddha in many different poses. There are more than 1,000 images of the Buddha in this entire complex.
Wat Pho, like the Grand Palace is a huge open area with a series of buildings and sub-complexes. The upside is when the sun hits all of the glass, tiles and water they all appear like jewels sparking in the sun. You can still feel how regal it must have been to live in such beautiful surroundings. The view from the Wat at one time would have been to the river seeing the Temple of Dawn on the other side. Walking through the grounds gives you a great sense of calm and serenity. Away from the bustling crowds, you can sit on a bench and reflect on your thoughts with some peace and tranquility.
The main attraction of this wat
is the reclining Buddha. Housed in the largest complex, this Buddha is made out of (bronze/gold ?) and is 15 m high and 43m long. The feet of the Buddha have the most details. Divided into 108 auspicious characters of the Buddha they are intricately carved with must love and detail. The best place to get a good photo is a little corner near the middle of the Buddha, taken long ways. You may not get the entire Buddha in, but a good portion of it.
Tourist buses flock to this destination, every day. They typically go there early in the morning 8am-10 am, so you can avoid lots of crowds if you go later on in the day. In the hot season (April-June) when the sun is blazing, there is very little shade in this area. Taken an umbrella and wear a hat to help block out the shade. Also carry lots of liquids to keep yourself hydrated. With your ticket you will be entitled to one bottle of water free. To fully appreciate the architectural magnitude of complex and see the reclining Buddha you will need to budget about 1.5-2 hours. This will allow you to go
at a slower pace and also take in the surroundings. You can do the “quickie” tour in 45 minutes which will let you walk through the complex quickly, see the Buddha and take some pictures.
I would recommend bundling this trip with a visit to the Grand Palace next door. Absolutely worth the time to visit Wat Pho. http://www.watpho.com/en/home/index.php
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