looking back … bangkok 2017

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Bangkok – a megalopolis: people, traffic, business, shopping… & lots of temples! Visiting Bangkok on our trip to & from Cambodia in 2017 left us awestruck concerning the beauty & the splendour of Buddha’s temples.

Our main impression: there are golden Buddhas – everywhere!

These long rows of Buddha statues reside in Wat Pho lining the walls around a courtyard around a temple.

Altogether we stayed in Bangkok for 4 days – not counting arrival & departure days… We focused on:

  • Wat Phra Kaew
  • Wat Pho
  • Wat Arun
  • Wat Traimit …

„Wat“ means temple/monastery – so: we visited Buddha’s temples & monasteries … the oldest temples, the most splendorous temples, the most sacred temples … (aka the touristic highlights!)

All these places are temple compounds meaning that inside the compound walls there are temples (more than a single temple!), various religious buildings, living quarters for monks & nuns, libraries … If you start investigating make sure to have time – endless time! – because you may get lost between all the elaborated walls & doors & windows & statues & towers … especially when taking photos of all the splendour!

However, for a start let’s concentrate in the golden Buddhas!

Wat Pho is famous for its Reclining Buddha statue (about 46 m long & 15 m high). The temple building around the Reclining Buddha was erected later on … (meaning: you cannot get the „whole“ Reclining Buddha in a photo ...)

You feel like an ant when entering the temple building & walking around the Reclining Buddha statue – together w/ lots of worshippers & tourists, tourists, tourists … resulting in queuing up to get a glimpse of the Reclining Buddha. Have a look at the background: all walls & the roof are decorated w/ precious details.

Although the Reclining Buddha is the most famous part of Wat Pho the temple compound is much larger & holds a lot of surprises (e. g. a massage pavilion!).

There are lots of Buddha statues all around Wat Pho & the other temple compounds: some are more elaborate, some require their very own temple – other statues are rather old (the golden cover is peeling…). There are also sleek Buddhas seeming rather modern…

Another famous Buddha statue is the Golden Buddha of Wat Traimit in Bangkok’s Chinatown. This statue is 3 m high, weighs about 5,5 tons & claims to be the world’s biggest golden statue (worth about 250 millions US$ by material …). If you like to admire it you’ll have to manage some flights of stairs … & queue up (of course!) …

The most sacred temple compound is Wat Phra Kaew next to the former royal palace forming a unique entity (today the King of Thailand has taken residence in another part of Bangkok). Wat Phra Kaew e. g. is about 1.000 m × 750 m by area (including the palace). Wat Pho is somewhat smaller – about 250 m × 250 m by area.

There are Buddhas in Wat Phra Kaew lining temple walls …

No: we didn’t enter the main temple at Wat Phra Kaew for the Emerald Buddha (Thailand’s most sacred Buddha w/ an interesting history of being covered w/ plaster to stay hidden during the 15th century… transferred due to war from Thailand to Laos later on for about 200 years …) – there were so many people, such a packed crowd that we focused on less filled parts of the compound …

Have a look at the buildings …

By the way: Wat Phra Kaew holds a miniature replica of the Angkor temple compound in Cambodia. (The replica cannot be placed on a table, of course, it covers about 50 m² (estimated!).)

Coming to the guards (mostly having a background in Hindu epics or coming from China):

… and: there are also black Buddhas.

Bangkok is a city of skyscrapers. You get used to this urban landscape when leaving the airport for your hotel.

It was my 1st visit to Bangkok (my better half was there once about 25 years ago!). It was a great experience: the city of Bangkok & its modern view, the ancient temple compounds & the golden Buddhas… The temple compounds are sacred areas in the very mid of the city – not really pools of silence & quietness & worship (also practised!) … It’s a vital contrast, but all Thai people seem to be happy with it.

We lived in Sukhumvit & were happy to get along by using Skytrain, Metro, Speedboat & Khlong boat … It’s always wise to check the public transport possibilities before you start for any tourist highlight.

Leaving the home of the golden Buddhas … for the ancient Buddhas & Hindhu gods & goddesses …

Moving on from Thailand to Cambodia, from Bangkok to Siem Reap …

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keep it simple. be flexible. always.