The Grand Palace

7 Mar

There’s really only one thing you can do when life hands you lemons: go visit a national monument.  Um, yeah.  Okay, maybe that was a specific case, but it worked out pretty well for me.

On my third day of not getting on a plane out of Thailand, I was a little annoyed, but at least I was getting better at finding a hotel and navigating the airport train link. I managed to book a room, get from the airport to downtown Bangkok, and find my hotel in Sukhumvit in under two hours, a new personal record.

The Best Western @ Sukhumvtit 20 is a surprisingly good deal. For about $50 USD, you get a nice room with a king-sized bed, a well appointed bathroom (Western toilet, shower stall, hot water), and free internet in the heart of Bangkok’s business district. I would definitely recommend it. I stayed here for two days, getting a good deal on agoda.com, Asia’s alternative to Orbitz. (I would also recommend using them.)

I peeled out of my nice travel clothes, threw on my dress and ran off. The Grand Palace is only open from 8 to 3, and I was determined to not miss it. I should have paid attention to the hotel staff, who were trying to explain that I wasn’t nearly covered enough for the palace’s modesty rules, but I didn’t understand them until I reached the palace.

Clothing rules. They’re very serious about this.

As the line of foreigners wandered in, a guard with a whistle picked out the offenders and sent them to the clothing rental place. You paid a 500 baht deposit on the rentals, but got it all back when you returned them.

PROTIP: when visiting the Grand Palace, for Buddha’s sake, cover up. They managed to get me into the shirt and skirt, and I was sweltering. Ladies: your skirt must reach your ankles. You must have a shawl or scarf covering your arms. Gents: No shorts for you either. Pants and a button down would be a good idea.

Despite the incipient heatstroke, I loved the Grand Palace. Everything is gilded there and glitters fiercely. My little magpie heart almost burst. When the sun came out from behind the clouds, it was blinding. The Palace is actually the home of the King, who is a well loved institution in Thailand. From all reports, he’s a cool dude.

Anyways, pictures. For your viewing pleasure:

The front lawn.

A close up of one of the murals.  I think they’re demons.

Big old golden thing.  This is a stupa, Phra Sri Rattana Chedi, a temple supposedly holding the Buddha’s ashes.

The stupa is actually made up of tiny golden tiles.

Buddha on a pedestal.

Another stupa. This is the Phra Mondop.

A line of devas around the outside of the Jade Buddha Temple. This is one of my favorite pictures from Bangkok.

The Jade Buddha at a distance. You’re not supposed to take picture inside the temple proper, so this was the best I could do.

People lighting incense.

One of the old Kings (one of the Ramas, I think) had this to-scale miniature Angkor Wat built. I think this is the closet I’m getting the real thing.

A female deva.

A demon helping to hold up the Wat.

Outside the temple area, the palace complex is huge, including a museum, government buildings, and the King’s Residence, in a mix of traditional architecture.

An elephant bronze.

More temple buildings.

The National Palace was beautiful and gorgeous, and I’m glad I went, even if I had time constraints. It was hot as Hades, but at least the sun was out. If I had left it to the next day, when I had a full day to explore, I would have done so in the torrential downpours. Yay for small favors.

I really do suggest that people go visit the Grand Palace if they have half the chance. It’s gorgeous, not obscenely expensive (well, in comparison to the daily cost of life in Bangkok it might be), and really just a beautiful compound. But if you can’t, I hope my little visit served to edify and enlighten. It sure did for me and remains the highlight of my stay in Thailand.

Me, at the end of the day. See the skirt and shirt? Hot as hell.

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4 Responses to “The Grand Palace”

  1. Karen March 7, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

    Classy shoes to round out your ensemble. You did good with the pictures. The necklace I sent you was from Thailand. I’m still holding out hope it will arrive before you leave.

    • Jane March 8, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

      Hey, I’ll have you know I’m classy as hell. :D

  2. cathi green March 7, 2012 at 11:50 pm #

    Will forward this one to Clinty… he leaves (hopefully) Saturday. Will he have to cover his bald head??

    • Jane March 8, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

      Well, probably. It’s pretty freaking sunny there; I imagine a sunburn would be rather uncomfortable. ;D

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