We are all feeling so tired this morning as we didn’t get off to sleep until late and were up at 7. We get in a taxi and show them a piece of paper with the words Chinese embassy written in Thai on it. It is quite a long way from here and takes half an hour, as long as you agree with the driver that they should use the meter it is very cheap though.
We fill out our forms and leave our passports; we are supposed to come back and collect them next Tuesday but may leave it until the week after when we return to Bangkok.
By now we are all hungry but Simon and the kids don’t fancy the street food and we end up in a donut shop, very healthy! Still the sugar gives us the kick needed to get going and we head off for The Grand Palace in the ancient royal district of Ko Ratanakosin.
We visited The Grand Palace last year but due to the heat didn’t see too much of it and wanted to return there. The palace complex was established in 1782 after King Rama 1′s ascension to the throne and houses not only the royal residence and throne halls but a number of government offices as well as the renowned Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
As we walk up to the complex the palace buildings are just breath taking, decorated with jewelled stones and gold leaf the palace buildings shimmer and gleam in the bright sunlight. One of the buildings is covered entirely in gold and mother of pearl and imposing looking stone guardians stand to attention in front of the mosaic encrusted pillars.
We pose for lots of pictures and admire the impressive architecture, despite this being our second visit the kids are really enthusiastic and we agree that the stunning buildings would impress even the most weary “seen it all” traveller.
The Emerald Buddha was discovered by an abbot in the 15th century in Chang Rai. Originally covered in plaster, as was often the case to disguise their value, the abbot noticed the green “emerald” underneath when the Buddha was dropped and chipped. (Actually the Buddha is made of jade). It was then stolen by the Laos people and eventually returned to Thailand around 300 years ago. It is the temple complexes primary attraction and a pilgrimage destination for devout Buddhists. At only 75cm tall it is almost hidden amongst the treasures that it sits upon and is always clad in royal robes, one for each season.
The only way I can describe it is like entering Aladdin’s cave, everything is so glittery, jewelled and gold that we don’t want to move from it and sit in the mermaid position on the floor for ages staring up at the little Buddha and taking it all in. Photography is prohibited at much of The Grand Palace and although it’s a shame we can’t capture the memory of such an amazing place I know it’s something I will always remember and would recommend a visit here to anyone. (Wat Phra Kaew)
We have some ice cream and return our borrowed clothing; you must be dressed appropriately to enter the sacred temples. We walk around the perimeter of the complex to Wat Pho this temple houses the worlds largest reclining Buddha at 75m long it is huge and it is almost impossible to visualise it all at once. Covered in gold leaf with panelled mother of pearl inlaid feet it is also very beautiful and the kids enjoy putting their donation money in all the 50 or so bowls that line the walls of the temples.
We get a taxi back to Th Khao San, Maisie and I are completely knackered and have a siesta in the afternoon that lasts for 4 hours! Simon and Ali wander around, having a haircut and buy a LP for Vietnam for 450 baht. In the evening we get some food and head back for a quiet night. Walking around in the heat is so exhausting and we agree that we all need a few more hours sleep tonight.