Monday, 12 March 2012

Wat Arun Bangkok 11th March 2012

Wat Arun... And the flea market

Scrutinising the tourist map, which is free from just about any public place, I notice 'Temple of the Emerald Buddha'. Its just a few yards past the university and might offer something a little different to look at, without having to hike very far. Anyway, no harm in taking a look at yet another temple. Since I have to hike through Thammasat again, might as well stop for something to eat and re-hydration would be a good idea. Chicken noodle soup, always good on a hot day! Rain,, actually it's a downpour and quite a welcome one too. About 10 minutes, a fresh feel emerges as the coolness spreads through the canteen.

Through Thammasat then, and towards the road that leads on to the express boat. On the right, a seemingly endless line of stalls on the pavement. On the left, a complex surrounded  by a high concrete white wall. Nothing to say what this place is, part of another complex probably, and a monk or 2 to be found deep inside. An interesting collection of stalls. Looks to be a kind of flea market - nothing new, an old 1st generation mobile phone, an antique by now I would think. Recycled shoes, jeans and shirts on offer and plenty of old coins, bits of pottery and actually some smart second hand watches. An old Samsung touch screen phone for £4.40, the watches are going for about £3 each and there are a couple of nude male Buddha plastic dolls, all the parts on show - no political correctness in Thailand! Didn't ask the price though.

A collection of buses, tourist and local are occupying most of the space around here. I notice a sign to another ferry - to the Wat Arun pier. The sign points right and a trail of tourists tread onto the wooden boards that host yet more shops and stalls, this time actually over the water, as waves can be seen lapping through the gaps below. Wat is the term used when referring to a Temple, this one I had spotted numerous times on the way up, and down the river. I don't particularly know why I detoured, because the place doesn't look much from this side of the river. Maybe it's because there's a hoard of tourists heading there to - perhaps this isn't just another temple, but something worth seeing.

The pier leads almost into the grounds of this temple, therefore it's seems tourist specific. Nicely manicured gardens, rockery and flowers here and there. It's starting to look like a big place, another complex of halls, monks dwellings and this architecture encrusted with gold. But what's different here is there are four towers, cylindrical and made of concrete, stone and marble decorated with statues, carvings similar to those I saw in Siem Reap. This collection of towers is enclosed, a complex within and it's 40 b to get through into the courtyard. The largest tower is the central feature, tourists clambering up the steep stone steps - it's a long way up, quite a hike in this hot weather.

Breathtaking, that's how the view at the top can be described. It's easy to see why tourists make a beeline for this place. Not only can they admire the splendour of the bejewelled complex below, they can also enjoy a complete all-round  panoramic view of the city, and almost the entire length of its river. Worth the 90p just for the view!

Free education is on offer, according to a poster. Monks will teach meditation, computer skills and various other activities for adults and children, including English and music lessons. But right now time to get back to base. Spring rolls and banana pancake for tea and a wander around Khao San road. Temple of the Emerald Buddha can be for another time.

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