Bangkok, Thailand: Land of Smiles - Day 2
After a very tiring but fulfilling day in the Land of Smiles, we were now ready to take the second and the last day of our short stop in Bangkok. Gaining a good grasp of the Bangkok public transport systen, we tried to avoid taking the taxi to save money and avoid traffic due to the yuletide season.
From our hotel, we took the City Airport Link and BTS to the Central Pier of Chao Phraya Boat Express. Using the Orange Line, we took the boat to Tha Tien boat station. The station has some small stalls where one can buy some travel souvenirs. Items are sold starting from 200 baht (50 NOK).
After a short walk, we were able to reach the the walls of Grand Palace, our first stop of the day. One must be warned not to take any entrance aside from the major entrance to avoid extra expenses from tour agent,who are taking advantage. There is a strict dress code, so one must avoid exposing too much skin when entering the premise.
Since Grand Palace is a major tourist attraction, one must expect many people flocking the area. One must be early in coming to the area to make the visit less stressful. There are ATM machines just outside the entrance and near the ticketing booths, which accepts visa cards. The entrance fee is 500 baht per person (125 NOK).
Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha
The Grand Palace is a compound of government offices and temples, which highlight Thai architecture and belief. For over one century, it has been the place of the King of Thailand until the twentieth century. There is a central court, where tourist can take pictures of the facades of these important government and religious buildings.
The major highlight of the complex is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha or Wat Phra Kaew. There is a main building, which houses the Emerald Buddha. The statue is believed to be touched only the Thai king. A ritual is also conducted in the temple, where the Thai king changes cloaks three times a year, corresponding to the three seasons in the Thailand ( summer, winter and rainy).
The best thing about the temple is the intricate architecture. It is overwhelmingly beautiful. There tour guides who help explain the architecture, statues and the history of the temple. However, if one only wants to experience something new, without going deep on the details, the Grand Palace is a perfect place one must go.
Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho)
Wat Pho is just at the back of Grand Palace. One can walk along the walls of the complex or take a toktok for reach Wat Pho. This temple is said to one of the largest and oldest in Bangkok.
The reclining Buddha image is 15 meters high and 43 meters in length. A seven-tiered umbrella is found over the statue, which symbolizes Thai culture. Around the image, people can drop coins to bowls, which is believed to bring good luck and support the monks. Before entering the temple, one should pay for the entrance fee and take off shoes. There are some exhibitions outside the temple, where one could also see.
Dialogue in the Dark
Due to an advice from TripAdvisor, I gained knowledge of the Dialogue in the Dark. It was quite difficult for us to find, since I lost a clearer map of its location. However, it is accessible through the MRT line near Silom station. It is located in the fourth floor of NSM Science Square in Chamchuri Square.
At first, I was very skeptic whether we would have great time in the attraction, since it is quite different from the temples we have visited. We were greeted by a good English-speaking reception. We were oriented about safety concerns and rules we needed to follow within the dark room. After several minutes of orientation, we started our journey inside, with the use of our canes and our four other senses.
We were presented with seven scenarios we could experience and appreciate being blind. There was guide instructing what to touch and where to go. We thought that our guide was wearing a nigh vision goggles. Knowing that, it felt uncomfortable knowing that someone sees what we do inside, but to our dismay, we realized the guide was also blind! She told us that she became blind since birth and it was so surprising to know how well she guided us and made us feel empathy to blind people.
Honestly speaking, although I experienced similar activities before as part of nursing education, I did not learned to understand blind people in a deeper level. Only after Dialogue of the Dark, I appreciated their limitations and the abilities they can do in spite of their disability. Truly, my senses were never the same after that experience.
After our third stop, we felt so hungry. The good thing is that there is food court in the same building in the ground floor. The stalls sell Thai food cheaply, but serves mainly to Thai people, not to tourists, so expect that it would be difficult to order food at first. The supermarket is also near, for you to buy some drinks and stuff you need. The area is also connected to the MTR subway, which we used to go to our fourth stop.
Madame Tussauds Bangkok
It was almost 7 in the evening when we arrived in our fourth stop - Madame Tussauds Bangkok, which highlights wax figures of famous people in the world and in Thai culture. The cost of going inside is about 700 baht (175 NOK) per person.
I believe Madame Tussauds attraction is the only place where you can strike a pose very near to world leaders. It was fun and provides another kind of spice to our short travel in Bangkok. The good thing about our visit to the place is that we did it during the last hour before their closing time. This gave us an advantage to roam around the wax figures without competing with our tourists and visitors.
Aside from world leaders, I was able to take some photos with intellectuals, who served as a motivation and inspiration in my younger years.
Although, I am not a musically-inclined person, I enjoyed taking pictures of Michael Jackson and other music artists. However, the adrenalin rush I felt hindered me to take time in every wax figure. Once I see another figure, I quickly go to it and just take picture of it, rather that taking a picture with it.
The exhibition is for any age group, so everyone can enjoy every wax figures in any way. Movie stars in Hollywood and in Asia are represented. Although the figures are different from their live counterparts, still it makes me feel starstrucked. The level of excitement was tremendous that it was comparable to me playing when I was younger. I forgot that I was already 27 years old.
After a very tiring second day in Bangkok, we can say we had a good overview of the Thai culture, food and the people. Although, it was not a perfectly planned and implemented stopover, I can say that it was a worthwhile and memorable experience for my sister and I. I myself would love to come back in Thailand after a significant period of time.
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