Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Grand-Poohbah of Grand Palaces

     So today I lived up to the name tourist and visited the Grand Palace. It basically consists of royal residences, throne halls/banquet halls, government offices and museums. For a ‘farang’-a foreigner of Western decent- the admission fee is 400 Baht, about $11 USD.
     Well worth it in my opinion. I paid an extra 200 Baht for a PAG (Personal Audio Guide) and that was less than $6 USD. It is a nifty little device that offers an audio tour that you can follow along with at your own pace. There were at least twelve different languages to choose from. I quite liked it.
Paige's PAG for the day

     The main entrance was very easy to spot and I felt especially lucky, since my employer had her driver take me there and pick me up. So, yay for not having to use public transportation to such a busy venue! Plus the benefit of added security; I knew I had a ride coming and did not have to worry about catching a taxi.

     *Side note-As a frequent traveler, it is always smart to read before you go-if you can. I read up on the Grand Palace a little bit and some popular scams that are run. One, in particular, was a scam where you’re approached by someone who says ‘Sorry, closed today’ and then they try and lead you off to some fake gem sale. I was approached by FOUR people saying the Grand Palace was closed today, and I COULD SEE the people walking in/out the entrance/exit. It was laughable. Knowing ahead of time that it was probably coming was pretty beneficial and I can not stress enough how important preparation is, when you have the opportunity.*
     I saw so much in a 2 ½ hour time span that there is no way I could cover it all. Well, I could but I think I’d lose readers, or at the very least put you to sleep. In lieu of that, I’ll hit the highlights.
     When you enter you are immediately surrounded by murals and ornate intricacies EVERYWHERE. I took quite a lot of photos, which would just cause clutter here, so instead go to this Flickr page I set up to see a slideshow. Also, note the nifty new banner I made for my site at the top of the page.
     The Royal Chapel of the Emerald Buddha was soo-ay, which is Thai for beautiful. They will not allow photography inside and I’m afraid I can’t do it justice but I’ll try. You have to remove your shoes to enter and since it was so busy, I know my shoes must’ve sat alongside at least 12 to 14 different shoes from different countries. The ceilings were about (aw jeez, measuring distances has never been a strong suit) fifty? feet high. There were two very prominent, large Buddha statues on the left and right, one seated Buddha on the lowest level and several other Buddha images/statues placed throughout. At the highest point, sitting in a gilded-carved throne is the Emerald Buddha.
     But he’s not really Emerald. He’s Jade. There’s back story there, and if you want to know I’ll tell but for now I’m skipping.
     It is very peaceful, and the ambiance-the air-is filled with a deep reverence. I very much liked being in there and I sat for about fifteen minutes just taking everything in.

     Chakri Maha Prasat Hall was my other favorite from today.

Look at these door! Aren't these beautiful doors!

     It was built as the official residence for King Rama V (the King from the Yule Brenner movie-note that the movie was a work a fiction, I’m just giving you a point of reference) but now it’s only used for state banquets. The doors were gorgeous! OH, oh, oh, and another highlight from this building was the Weapons museum located on the first floor. There were weapons from previous Kings in there as well as traditional Thai weapons. But my absolute favorite-and I’m not kidding you here—Tridents. Yep. They had actual Tridents. So cool.
     One of the revolvers owned by King Rama V was so beautiful. It looked like carved ivory, and very intricate.
     I’m still stoked about the Tridents.
I forgot to mention the Belfry. So maybe I just wanted to use the word Belfry in a sentence. It’s not everyday that you get to, so I’m capitalizing. They ring the bell on special occasions. I like how the sun is glinting off the top of the Belfry. The Belfry is really quite opulent.

Belfry. Belfry. Belfry.
Ok, I’m done. I think.

     I was hot, very hot at the end of my walk around the Grand Palace, so I purchase a Pepsi for 20 Baht and a bottled water outside the Palace for 20 Baht. Remember one dollar USD is about 30 Baht. I even took a picture of the currency exchange they had outside the Palace entrance.
     It was about 12:30 when I was done so I walked across the street and got some Pad Thai from a vendor for 50 Baht (no tiny portion either) and then a Kiwi fruit drink for 25 Baht.

     I had a very full, fascinating and fun day for 715 Baht. If you do the math, or use the nifty currency converter I put at the bottom of my site, then you’ll see that it equals less than 21.00 USD.
     I love exchange rates. 


  1. Hi kiddo. Thanks for popping by my place. I'm pea green with envy at what you're doing, but glad that you can do it.

    I used to travel when I was your age. Now my passport has dust on it.:(

  2. Yeah, Bodaciousboomer, but I bet it's got all sorts of stamps on the inside right? Those are badges!