Saturday, 17 March 2012

Routine Change Bangkok 16th March 2012

A new routine...

A change of routine today and from now on. Breakfast is at Thammasat where I can sit in the cooling breeze and then it's underground to the air conditioned library area get a coffee and begin meditation, oops I mean contemplation. Contemplating what I'm going to do today, tomorrow and where the heck am I going to stay in Kuala Lumpur! For now though, it an hour working on the blog, keeping all those with a passing interest on my travels around Asia informed and hopefully entertained - and if I can inspire just one person to get up, get a ticket and go somewhere outside of Europe, then all well and good.

October 73 Monument
Still recovering from the bus journey trauma from the other day, so today it's really going to be close to base. The Golden Mount is yes, you guessed it, another religious temple. Difference this time though, is that this one is constructed on what the locals call a mountain, but is in reality a man made mound, but a big one nonetheless. It's on the map as being beside a canal just off the main 4 lane boulevard running beside the Khao San area, about 1/2 hour of walking from Thammasat if the maps is to be believed.

 Along the Boulevard then and it's a continuous stream of traffic as this is the main route west to east and onto the airport. Royal Field is on the right, a huge expanse of greenery with Khao San at one end, the Grand Palace at the other and somewhere in the middle, well nothing actually, no shade from the hot sun so the place is mostly empty, except for a few locals making a short cut. Further along is a memorial - the '14th October 73' memorial gives a clue as to what it's all about. In short, Thailand was in a military dictatorship early seventies with a promise to return to democracy. Well, as we all know, military leaders are not renowned for keeping promises and so follows a student uprising. Many deaths followed, but eventually democracy returned 14th October 73. The memorial is quite an impressive display of photos, news clippings and individual accounts of Thailand's more recent past and it's worth taking time to read, wallow and think.

Democracy Monument
Plenty of pavement business going on. Mainly stalls selling lottery tickets, occasionally some food, more lottery stands and a few of those nice watches for sale. A big junction to cross here, 3 roads close together converging on to a roundabout. It's the Democracy Monument - a construction of 4 concrete objects, possibly supposed to be blades, surrounding a central pillar. Impressive to any visitor as the structure dominates any other photogenic subject around here, extending a long way up.

And there it is...
Over the canal bridge, turn right and the temple complex entrance is about 200 yards down there, just next to the fire station. The canal itself is worth a snap as the afternoon sun highlights those wooden dwellings, decorated with plants,  making up Thailand's colourful river communities. No turnstile, no money collector, in fact no one at all. Quite a climb, although shaded, still a struggle with the humidity. Manicured garden patches with water features make for a nice photo, as do the bells lined up at intervals. 10 minutes and at last, the summit of the mountain, and what a view! A panoramic view of the city, must be at least 500 ft up. A good spot for more photos, but no river scene as the temple is located some distance away. A nice and welcome breeze sets in as weary tourists rest, browse the gift shop or eat ice cream. Locals are making the effort getting here to do their worshipping. Monks are also tending to the shrines and other religious paraphernalia. one more stair case, and there it is - the golden spire, glinting, looking impressive set against a blue sky. A couple of hours just watching life below, taking a nap and getting photos, not necessarily in that order!

Back to Thammasat for last orders, just in time and it's Pad Thai - stir fried noodles, with egg, shrimp, bean sprouts and chunks of tofu, 60p and the best, tastiest Pad Thai yet.

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