Day 1 is here.
I’m not sure if we share the same sentiment, but I waited three months for this… so without further ado, here’s Day 2 of our Thailand trip!
Thursday, September 27, 2012
The Grand Temple Tour
Rach, Issang, and I started our day a little early so we could cover and visit more spots. Our supposedly-first stop for the day was the Grand Palace, which turned out to be close for tourists until 1:00 PM in the afternoon (or so a teacher who was outside the Wat said). The teacher then referred us to a tuk tuk driver who brought us to three different Buddhas in Nakhon District: the Standing Buddha, the Lucky Buddha, and the Smiling Buddha, plus a stopover at the Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair.
Temple #2: Wat Intharawihan
Wat Intharawihan houses the tallest Buddha image in Bangkok, a 32-meter tall structure overlooking Old Bangkok.
Temple #3: [Nameless Temple]
Visiting the Lucky Buddha was next on our temple tour itinerary. I don’t have a photo of it, but the Lucky Buddha is a small figure (probably a foot high) encased in a glass box — what I’m trying to say is that there is nothing extraordinary about it, except for the supposed luck that it brings.
Here in Temple #3, we met Mr. Wong, a Thai restaurateur based in the US but was currently visiting his native land. He told us about the luck that the Lucky Buddha has brought in his life, that we were (only) the second group of Filipinos that he met in his whole life (the first being a group of customers in his food place), and that he was also visiting Bangkok for the annual gem expo. He seemed like a nice, hospitable native.
Temple #4: [Another Nameless Temple]
The Buddha really sported a smile, unlike other figures who seemed to be looking down on you. I thought it was a bit funny that natives identify their Buddhas based on how the figure was made.
After Temple #4, we were brought to this place full of precious gems — the place which we thought was the jewelry fair. We were wrong. When we thought we were being brought back to the Grand Palace already, the driver stopped and went down the tuk tuk to talk to us. We could make out of the words “gas” and “money,” but other than that, we could not understand him. Turns out, the shop was just a stopover, and he brought us to the real jewelry fair.
We then realized that he must be receiving “money” (commission) for “gas” from the jewelry shop if the tourists that he brought there would buy anything. SMH. And, the story is far from over.*
More Shady Business
There’s a tourist information office near the place where we were dropped off, so we decided to check what’s inside and left with a shopping catalogue (hehe). And then, there’s this old lady who gave Issang and I a bag full of dried corn so we could feed the pigeons. I returned mine despite the old lady’s insistence, because I was so scared. Until now, I can imagine the feeling of having a pigeon or two perched on my arm!
Issang’s experience was another story. She fed the pigeons and emptied the plastic bag, and when she was about to leave, the old lady started shouting and asked for 300 THB as payment for the dried corn and pigeon-feeding experience. Of course we did what we had to do: we ran!
Temple #5: Wat Pho
Gaaaaah, all those adventures in less than six hours. Anyway, we went to Wat Pho first, because it was still early to be allowed in the Grand Palace. Wat Pho is home to the Reclining Buddha (which has an interesting story I learned the next day).
Wat Pho has an entrance fee of 100 THB, with free water. Cold water, at long last!
Temple #6: Wat Phra Kaew and Grand Palace
Finally, the Grand Palace! We’ve waited a day and a half for this! I told Rach that the place exuded a mixed vibe of Disneyland and Malacanang. I guess both are acceptable comparisons: the palace is home to monarchs of Thailand, with a number of museums and sights. And, the place is sooo crowded. Taking of photos is not allowed in Wat Phra Kaew, the home to the Emerald Buddha. We didn’t even stay for long inside the chapel, as there were a lot of people inside, and it was so humid.
As for the rest of the palace, we’re glad we stumbled upon Queen Sirikit’s Museum of Textiles! The museum houses her wardrobe through the years, and there was a part where one can wear the fabrics. The three of us thought it was an amazing breather from all the temple visits that we did that day.
I also have a funny story about the pamphlets given at the entrance of Grand Palace. A guard gave me an English guide, and then a few steps from the entrance, a guard ran after me to give me another one. I thought they were the same so I threw a copy away. I ended up not using the pamphlet during the visit. Imagine my surprise when I arrived home and showed my guides to my mom — my Grand Palace guide was in Chinese!
After a tiring temple tour in the morning and early afternoon, we decided that we’d visit the shopping centers — Platinum Mall and Pratunam Market! No photos, though. :> We ate at McDonald’s for dinner, and I got that McSpicy Chicken Burger. Hope they can bring that here in the Philippines sans the lettuce!
What a long and tiring day it was.
*Not Yet Over
While I was writing about our Day 2, I was also researching about the places that we visited; hence, I was able to name the wat where the Standing Buddha is located. To my surprise, when I searched for “lucky buddha bangkok,” what I got are results detailing tuk tuk scams: here, here, and here. I am not angry, I’m not even feeling scammed. After all, I really enjoyed the tuk tuk ride — it was like seeing the whole city in a glimpse and I felt that my 30 THB was worth it.
I feel disappointed, yes. If these accounts were to be believed, then the teacher who helped us as the day started and Mr. Wong whom we met at the Lucky Buddha temple were all part of the grand scheme. We thought they were hospitable Thais who just wished to help tourists and give a good impression of their country. Well, at the end of the day, it’s all business.
From a native himself, there is no Lucky Buddha or a Smiling Buddha. And, gosh. I learned all about this six months after the trip. Charging everything to experience.
Day 3 is up next, hopefully soon!