Tourists bought up “Jeannie Pants” as fast as card hustlers and pulled them on over their shorts. Women threw scarves over their bare arms while more travelers purchased parasols from street vendors. Sleeping children, cats in baskets, boiled eggs, wallets, shoes, water…a sea of people making a living, with their wares and daily lives on display. It was another typically hot day in Bangkok.
Our group had crammed into a taxi after sleeping in and eating a ridiculously phenomenal buffet breakfast at the hotel. Heavy traffic made for delicious sight-seeing and equally annoying car-sickness on our way. Upon immediate arrival and ejection from the taxi, we were slick-skinned and thirsty like the rest of the tourists hustling to get into the temple. After we exchanged our American currency into Baht across the street, we entered the Palace gates only to discover that they were closing early that day to accommodate a high-profile visitor. With 45 minutes before closing time, we booked it around the gardens and opted out of the additional cost of touring the interior, figuring there was only time for one or the other.
Monks on the lawn…
Color, craftsmanship and parasols decorated our tour and granted distraction from the midday sun. 45 minutes turned out to be long enough.
The Grand Palace is a complex of buildings that was the official residence of the kings of Siam (and later Thailand). These buildings, halls and pavilions have been built over a 200 year span, adding to the eclectic architecture of the Palace. The king, his court and his royal government were based on the grounds of the palace until 1925. The present monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), currently resides at Chitralada Palace, but the Grand Palace is still used for official events and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Thailand.
We went on to shop the streets (I picked up a pair of those “Jeannie pants” and wore them almost every day of the trip!), took in the wafting scent of street foods and gasped at embarrassingly low prices for handcrafted items. It was a day full of surprises: we waited an hour for a boat that never showed up; took separate taxis to a shopping mall, which separated our group and dumped us off in the middle of a political protest; spent the evening on a river boat with a seafood buffet and bad karaoke music…
All of that to say, we’d go back in a heartbeat! It was a most excellent way to spend a day in Bangkok! 🙂