Monday, December 11, 2006

More shiny temples

Casandra stayed over, and today the family took us to Bangkok. First we went to Wat Phra Kaew, the Royal temple, within the grounds of the Grand Palace – which, by the way, is not free: Farangs have to pay 200 baht entrance fee (although Asian foreigners – e.g. Filipinos – can get away without paying because they look like Thais).

Wat Phra Kaew is the home of Thailand's most sacred Buddha image, the Emerald Buddha. It was actually bigger than I expected (everyone goes on about how tiny it is). Reputed to have been made in Sri Lanka (or India, depending on which version you read), this sixty-centimetre jade statue was discovered when lightning struck an ancient chedi in Northern Thailand, cracking it open and revealing a Buddha statue (which according to some versions was actually also covered in stucco, which had flaked off in places revealing the green underneath). He's been moved around a bit – from Chiang Rai to Laos (where he spent over 200 years), and then when the capital of Laos was captured by King Rama I, brought back to Thailand and eventually installed in Wat Phra Kaew. He has ceremonial robes, which are changed according to the seasons.

Then we crossed to the other side of the river to Wat Arun, which was the first temple to be built in the new capital after the Burmese sacked Ayutthaya.

Oh, and then we saw the King! As we were on the way home a policeman stopped the traffic (we were the first in the line), and Smile explained that this was the Royal guard, and the King would pass through. And soon enough we saw his yellow car pass by up ahead. He has a Peugeot – no idea why a Peugeot (the Queen has a Honda, if I remember correctly; the Princess has a Limo).


At 5:26 am, Blogger Mridula said...

Lovely pictures.


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