Boom boom Bangkok..
Two loud explosions across the city this morning. It's 9.15 and thankfully I'm wide awake. First thought centres on the Iranians, perhaps its a bid to complete the (alledged, not wishing to become embroiled in a major international incident) failed mission to blow up an Israeli diplomat. The explosions, about 3 minutes apart, we're quite close to base but no yelling, screaming or shattering of glass to be heard - no sirens or loud speakers either. Anxiety subsides, maybe something to do with the military around the Grand Palace then, I'll find out later.
Each of the places I've stayed at here in Bangkok require payment before noon on a daily basis. PAYG is probably a good idea actually, enables the budget traveller keep a better eye on their financial affairs. Bangkok is a place where spending on those extras can quite easily dwindle finances to crisis level! Handing over my 150 b to the reception lady ( miss Sour Puss) and I attempt to find out about those earlier explosions. A murmured, incomprehensible reply but I did catch the word King. The rest of it then is as in my second assumption, something ceremonial, but on a Sunday morning when 90% of Brits and Europeans are nursing hangovers! Yep, the Thais, happy that drinkers are keeping the cash flow healthy, but are unconcerned with the consequences of European over indulgence, and that really should give readers a clue as to how different these cultures are.
On the way to Thammasat, I'll just nip into the tourist office, the one right by the river, and try to get a better response to my earlier question on those explosions. It was indeed a ceremonial salute to the king, from the Grand Palace. Thammasat is much less busy, about 1/4 populated on a Sunday but there is still a few food booths open. The pasta man is there, with the only recipe he knows by the looks of things. But I'm not complaining at pasta and bolognaise sauce for breakfast, at 50p.
Fed and watered, it's off to look for the reclining Buddha, somewhere near the Grand Palace according to the map. Its a major attraction that needs checking out by all accounts so that's the goal. It's the next complex after the Palace, closer than I thought, minimal effort, good. Through the gate, a couple of ugly statues either side and it's more of the same architecture as the rest of these religious complexes. A few more ceramic pillars here though, but no sign of the reclining Buddha yet. To get any further it's 100 b, £2.20. Unless each individual story and history of these places is of interest, I don't know that paying to see much of the same is something I want to do. Teetering on the brink, but that Buddha might be something special, and at this point I probably should have researched the thing a bit more.
I hand over the cash, through into a courtyard and a huge hall sits in the middle, surrounded by a marble floor and propped up with pillars. Have to remove shoes, then Inside, an impressive bronze statue of Buddha lying down, hand supporting the head. 15 metres high, 43 meters long makes a full photo tricky, but most of it gets in the frame. The hall itself is decorated ornately with mosaics, pictures and other religious objects. Quite an awesome sight actually, glad I coughed up the cash now! Shoes on and a review of the video, the only real way to get a full on image since my little camera isn't the best in hi- tec demands. Some Indian tourists gather, start quizzing me on my IPads ability to take video - all smiles until I tell them the price of one.
Remainder of the complex is ornately decorated with shrines, mini temples and these ugly Chinese statues by each of the gates - which are padlocked by the way, so no sneaking in.
Free water is dished out to tourists with presentation of the ticket, so all-in-all, a rather pleasant couple of hours, although the whole thing could be seen in less than 45 minutes, and that's at a gentle stroll.