We woke up to a beautiful, sunny and incredibly hot day. Did I mention that it was hot?
After having a delicious breakfast at the restaurant next to our hotel whose motto is " we cook like you make at home.", we walked to the Royal Palace. I was roasting hot at that point.
Many people dressed completely in black lined up in front of the Royal palace area as well as inside the grounds. The lineup snaked its way through the temples and the exterior of the grounds, ending up at the royal palace. There was well over a thousand people baking in the heat in order to pay respects to the remains of the King who passed away on October 13. There are large memorials for him everywhere you look in Bangkok. There are even shops that sell huge framed portraits of him....I'm not talking 8x10, I'm talking life size portraits. Black and white mourning bunting drapes the fences around government and Royal buildings. The mourning period lasts a year and this King appears to have been well loved by his people.
People must have their knees and shoulders covered to get into the Royal Palace and temple areas. Because we didn't have our luggage, and my only tshirt was washed and still wet, I had to wear John's tshirt ( that dried quicker than mine) over my tank top.....it wasn't a good look. We also didn't have hats....yep, they were also in our suitcases.
The grounds of the Royal palace have many temples and intricately carved and decorated buildings, their gold and jewel tone encrusted surfaces gleamed in the sun. So much splendor.
I loved the demon and monkey carvings. The way to tell the monkeys from the demons is that the monkeys have bare feet.
Soon into the visit, the heat started to get to me and I was feeling off so I sat down near one of the fans that were placed at regular intervals in the line-up of black clad mourners.
We had tickets that came with the palace grounds entry fee to the Royal Regalia exhibit. John asked me if I was really interested in a museum of coins and stuff. I said " I am if it's air conditioned". Every time we asked where it was, we were pointed in a different direction. Finally, I was leaning against a wall feeling very dizzy and a security guard brought me a bottle of ice cold water and a cold towelette, then he told me the exhibit was closed today.
We left the palace area and went to an air conditioned restaurant for real fruit slushies. I felt much better after my watermelon slushy so we continued to walk to the famous Wat Pho (temple).
Part way there a friendly man flashed a tourist police badge at us and said to make sure to carry our bags in front of us because of pick pockets. He said that Wat Pho was closed until 4:30 because of some function to do with mourning the king. ( in hindsight I'm not sure if that was true). He suggested that we go see the giant standing Budda, then go to the silk shop and then visit the Wat. Before we knew it, he had negotiated a deal with a tuktuk taxi to take us to all those places and we were on our way.
A tuktuk is like a tricycle car with one wheel in the front and two in the back. I always wanted to ride one. It was so neat bopping around in this thing.
People drive on the opposite side of the road here. And the normal taxis are usually yellow and green, vibrant orange, bright blue or a startling hot pink. Often the owners of the regular cabs or tuktuk cabs personalize their vehicles by attaching stuffed animals, decorations, etc.
I haven't figured out why yet , but often drivers have small floral lei like things hanging from their inside rear view mirrors....kind of like how some people in North America hang stuffed dice. People on the streets at stop lights will walk up to the cars and sell the drivers these floral creations.
Following the rules of the road seems to be a little lax here and John says to be careful when crossing the road because there is a high incidence of pedestrian casualties.
Getting back to flying through the streets on the tuk tuk. It was a gas, I loved it. Our first stop was the giant standing Budda. It took me a while to realize that the walls of this temple were filled with tiny windowed shelves of cremated ashes. It was like a graveyard.
You could buy incense and other things for offering to Budda. There was also someone selling a lot of tiny cages that contained two live birds so that you could let them free ( and return the cage). I felt sorry for these little birds and was tempted to save a couple but John said that it would only encourage them to capture more birds to sell in the same way.
Our next stop was to the silk store. John said he wasn't interested but the driver said he had to take us there even if we only stayed five minutes and didn't buy anything, so we went in. The materials were gorgeous and they had books that you could choose to create custom made to measure clothing. John was quick to buy himself a suit and custom made shirt and I designed the dress I envisioned for Lara's wedding and chose a gorgeous, shiny cobalt blue silk. We have our fittings tomorrow and they deliver the clothes to our hotel that night.
Back into the tuktuk, we made our way to Wat Pho. It was late afternoon and the heat was easier to bear. There were many temples on the grounds, each competing to be more ornate then the next...all of them glittering like treasures in the late afternoon sun.
The famous reclining golden Budda was huge. Impressive.
Tired and feeling sweaty from all our touring, we negotiated with another tuk tuk driver to take us back to our hotel....ok, I also wanted another ride in a tuk tuk. We passed many temples, royal palaces, China town and markets before John realized that we were going in the wrong direction. The friendly driver stopped, looked at our map, apologized for his confusion, turned around and dropped us off at our hotel.
We were distressed to find that our luggage still hadn't arrived. John called and called the numbers for lost luggage before finally getting someone who said we would have our bags before midnight.
I washed our smelly tops and attempted to dry them with the blow dryer...we wore them damp to dinner but at least we smelled fine.
We walked to a street filled with restaurants and street food vendors. We found a lovely restaurant where we got a table by a gold fish pond and little waterfall. I was surprised when John answered spicy when the waitress asked him how he wanted his dish. One forkful of John's selection and my mouth was on fire....I've never seen John's eyes water and face and head turn so red....it later turned out that part of the redness was from a sun burn....yep, no hat today.
Jet lag finally caught up with me and my eyes began to close after dinner.
Upon returning to the hotel, we were told that our luggage was on its way to us and sure enough it arrived at 10:30pm. Hallelujah!