Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thailand - The Grand Palace, Bangkok City

When my wife visited me in Bangkok few months back during my wandering away from home, I brought her to The Grand Palace; that was our first time to explore the place.

Coming from MBK mall, we went there by tuk tuk. The 80 Baht negotiated fare ballooned into 200 Baht. I expected that to happen since I noticed that our tuk tuk covered quite a distance in going to that place. Not to mention the traffic we encountered on our way. However, the tuk tuk driver became powerless when I gave him 120 Baht plus a smile albeit he dropped us at one of the minor/smaller gates of The Grand Palace.

Two touts at the smaller gate immediately approached and informed us that the palace was closed and blah, blah, blah. Having read this kind of scam from the net, I brushed them aside and asked for the location of the main gate from the military guards posted at the entrance of that smaller gate. Needless to say, I had this belief that the main gate of The Grand Palace should be big and wide aside from throngs of tourists entering the complex daily unlike the smaller gates which were always closed for tourists. Later on, I found out that the palace complex is open daily as posted at the main entrance.

These days, touts are more daring and start preying at the main gate as I read on the net. They would disguise themselves as government officials and discourage some tourists in entering the palace complex. They would use the same modus operandi; they would inform the unsuspecting tourists that the place is close at the moment for some reasons and they can come back later. Meanwhile, the tout would asked the tuk tuk driver nearby to bring their victims to other temples and gem shops where they will be coerced in buying astronomically priced gems. You have been warned.

This place has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam (Thailand) since 1872. However, the present royalty reside in a different place. Nevertheless, some official functions and celebrations are still being held inside this complex. In connection to this, I remember the movie Anna and The King where, Chow Yun Fat, one of my favorite Hong Kong action stars, acted as Rama IV, the reigning King of Siam at that time. Some scenes were shot at The Grand Palace. It is ironic that the film was banned for viewing in Thailand.



 Upon entering the palace complex, wife and I were aghast at the stunning beauty of the entire complex. Though the temperature was high and we forgot to bring an umbrella I was surprised that my wife didn't go ballistic perhaps she was really stunned by the striking beauty of the place.





Wat Phra Kaew



There are many important buildings and pavilions inside the palace complex and one of them is Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of Emerald Buddha). Yup, a Buddha statue made of emerald. Sorry guys, photo shoot is not allowed inside this royal chapel. This temple is one of the most important temples in Thailand due to Emerald Buddha's history.







Most of the buildings are fusion of European architecture with Thai style roof. There is museum inside that showcase the history of Thailand. Likewise, colorful murals adorned some walls inside the complex while giant Garuda statues were posted at some inner gates.





Entrance fee is 400 Baht. Quite expensive but make no mistake about it: This place is a must see for all visitors in Bangkok not only due to its marvelous architectural design but because this place also played an important role in the history of Thailand.

You can easily reach this place by Chao Phraya Express boat. The palace complex is near to Tha Tien pier.


The main drawback is the difficulty in getting a solo or group shots due to huge crowds of visitors daily.

Some tips:

with Royal Guard
For ladies, since you would end up entering the Wat Phra Kaew (Emerald Buddha), your shoulder up to knee should be covered otherwise you need to rent shawl or skirt at the entrance; refundable once you returned them. No caps or hats also while inside the temple.

Bangkok can be hot during daytime thus it is better to bring umbrella or wear a hat while exploring the complex. Apply sunscreen also.

Though English speaking guides are available at the entrance, don't be afraid to explore the place without them. You're not there primarily to learn the history of the palace. It is more enjoyable to explore the place at your own pace.



OTHER THAILAND ATTRACTIONS:

Platinum mall, Bangkok
Pratunam market, Bangkok
Roaming Around Bangkok - part 1 (Pratunam area)
Roaming Around Bangkok - part 2 (Khao San area)
Pantip Plaza, Bangkok
CentralWorld mall
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Khao San Road
J - Trends in Town Celebration
Wat Pho (The Reclining Buddha)
Wat Saket (Temple of Golden Mount)