Bangkok, shall we say, has a reputation.
However, there is another side to Bangkok, that's not all temples and sex-tourists. For some reason though, Thais don't seem to be proud of this (Not saying they're proud of sex-tourism btw) and tend to hide a cool and funky light under any convenient bushel. It's actually a real shame because there is lots of cool and interesting stuff out there, but its never publicised, really. For example, there is loads of modern Asian art (in the broadest sense of the world) but trying to find out about it is a bit of a mare.
This is a great case in point.
If you're bored of the crowds of Grand Palace and the markets selling all eleven kinds of tourist tat then I can not recommend highly enough Chula Art Town. There is a big bit of it that's almost finished and I'll be going back to that soon, but don't let that put you off. It looks like they've taken the influence for it from the rebuilt hutongs of Beijing. Modern buildings, but with a clear Thai/Asian feel to them in a rabbit warren of streets. The ground floors of which (I hope) will be independent coffee shops and retailers selling all manner of what-have-you.
That was a by-product of our visit to the university district. We'd got wind of street art project sponsored by Chulalongkorn University and heard great things about it so off we went and it did not disappoint!
Well, its been a while!
The temple dates back to the Ayutthaya era, when it was known as Wat Sakae. When Bangkok became the capital, King Rama I renovated the temple and gave it its present name. Phu Khao Thong (Golden mountain, ภูเขาทอง) is a steep artificial hill inside the Wat Saket compound. Rama I's grandson, King Rama III, decided to build a chedi of huge dimensions inside Wat Saket, but the chedi collapsed during construction because the soft soil of Bangkok could not support the weight. The hill was built out of the mud dug out to make the canal network around Bangkok. During the reign of King Rama IV, construction began of a small chedi on the hill. It was completed early in the reign of his son, King Rama V. A relic of the Buddha was brought from Sri Lanka and placed in the chedi. The surrounding concrete walls were added in the 1940s to stop the hill from eroding.
This is one of the more famous Wats in Bangkok and delights in the full name of Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan. The name is derived from the Godess of sunrise and a rough English translation is the Temple of the rising sun. It's central stupa has, for the last few years been shrouded in scaffolding and bamboo matting as repairs were completed. However a few weeks ago this was removed and it once again became a place to watch the sun go down.
There are a string of rooftop bars on the other side of the river from which to watch the sunset on the wat. Not sure we picked a good one though. Firstly, they wouldn't let me use my tripod. Others were using smaller tripods but my full size one was not allowed. All the other bars seemed to have no problem with them however. Also, we thought we were being clever getting a bar directly opposite the Wat. A better option would have been further westwards as we would have a better view of the light glinting off the mirrored mosaic tiles of the stupa. Next time!
One of new favourite places in Bangkok. These are the views from the 49th floor of the Marriott hotel's rooftop Octave bar. They have a happy hour from 5-7 which means that the cocktails are not too pricey. Not when you consider the views you get thrown in.
Wat Pho is remarkable. It has sprawling grounds dotted with stunning stupas (see future post) and the amazing reclining Buddha. This is Bangkok's oldest and largest wat. It is surprisingly quiet and peaceful for all that.
As regular readers will know I do love a nice Buddha statue and this is a goody.
Wat Traimit in the heart of Bangkok's China town is home to the worlds largest gold statue. A 3m high gleaming gold Buddha worth something in the 10s of millions in gold alone.
The Grand Palace is aptly named. It is not done on anything you might call a small scale. This is probably a good thing because anything smaller would just be terrible. However, its size just makes it most impressive.
Here is just a collection of photos... Can't really add to the grandeur of it.
Next up will be some of the larger statues of the Palace.
Well that's our China adventure over. A new job in Thailand. Some great things to see and photograph here. First up then is the Grand Palace in Bangkok. We have been here a couple of times when he have come here on visits.
The Palace represents two things that are really important to Thais: their Royal family and Buddhism. They therefore make you dress appropriately. It does get busy so get there either early or late.
The whole complex should be hideously naff. However, it is all on such a grand scale it just takes your breath away. A really amazing place.
I suspect that there will be multiple posts on this as it somewhere we will take every visitor. So, to start with here are some statues.
I loved this line of statues
There are tonnes and tonnes of gold leaf used.
Some of the statues are on a much bigger scale...
This will be a blog about my latest shots and what I liked or was trying to do with them
I am a teacher of Economics and have worked in various schools in Europe & Asia. One of the things I love doing is getting out and about with my camera.