Sunday, January 22, 2012

...Two Pagoda...Many Pagoda More...

January 14--off to Bangkok

This morning, Jimmy Joe accompanied us by tuk-tuk to the airport to catch our flight to Bangkok. After a pleasand flight, we landed and were met by our guide, Mr. Ving of Khiri Travel. He and our driver, Mr. Gong, took us to our hotel, the Navalai River Resort. The hotel is very nice, and has an outdoor restaurant right on the River of Kings. Our only disappointment was that our "serene corner room" wasn't on a corner. However, otherwise it was very satisfactory.

After lunch and settling into our room, we departed with Mr. Ving on a whirlwind pagoda tour. Traveling by water taxi, our first stop was the Grand Palace, with its many extraordinary buildings, shrines and statuary. A few of the images from the Grand Palace follow.

On the inside walls of the enclosure are a number of "mirror paintings" which depict scenes from a legend from Thai culture.  It's a very long story, but involves two kings and the kidnapping of one of their wives by some demons.  The battle scenes include the legendary "White Monkey," who helps to rescue the maiden from the demons. 

Mr. Ving knew the whole story by heart, and could tell us what was happening in each part of the mural. 

One of the highlights of the palace tour is Wat Pra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the most revered shrine in the Kingdom. Carved from a single piece of jade the Emerald Buddha cannot be photographed from inside the temple. This image is taken from outside, through the open door.

Next door to the Grand Palace is Wat Po, one of Bangkok's oldest and laregest temple. It houses the famous gigantic, gold-plated Reclining Buddha. We were told that this figure represents Buddha after his death. His eyes are open, signifying that he has entered Nirvana. His feet are perfectly aligned, signifying that he is dead. (We were told that if one foot extends beyond the other, he is sleeping or resting.)

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