Southeast Asia Travel Day Twelve: Today was the second of our most anticipated tour days of this vacation. One day in Bangkok is not nearly enough time to see everything, even on a surface level. Bangkok has such a rich cultural history with many historic landmarks dating back centuries in time.
A couple months ago, Michael and I found ourselves unable to decide between two of the excursions that were offered; wanting to visit the main attractions of both tours. It took some time but with the help of our travel agent, we were able arrange a private tour that allowed us to see both and then some.
Instead of breaking today up into separate posts, I’ll just hit the highlights. At some later point I’ll try to add another photo essay (post) like I plan to do with the Angkor photos.
Grand Palace. The Grand Palace has been the residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782. The incredible maze of buildings in the complex feature intricate and highly ornamented details that are simply breathtaking.
One of the most famous attractions at the palace is the temple, Wat Phra Kaew and the Emerald Buddha. Emerald is used to represent the color of the statute that is actually made of jade.
Bang Pa-In Royal Palace. The Summer Palace dates back to 1632. Most of the existing buildings were built by King Chulalonghorn; son of King Mongkut of The King and I fame. These newer buildings reflect Victorian architecture in style.
We buzzed around the site on a golf cart in a relatively short amount of time. In addition to several of the buildings, we stopped at the Aisawan Thyphia Art Pavilion because Michael wanted to feed bread to the fish and turtles in the pond.
Ayutthaya. There are at least 18 temple ruins in Ayutthaya, north of Bangkok. At one point in history, it was the capital of the Kingdom of Siam (Thailand). We had time to visit the ruins of five temples plus one temple that is still in use. Unlike the temples in Cambodia, the Thai temples are primarily composed of brick covered in stucco. Surprisingly, even with the small bricks, most of the temples here took a shorter time to build than the stone Angkor temples of Cambodia.
At Wat Mahathat, one of the must-see curiosities is a Buddha head peering from surrounding tree roots. There are several theories but no clear explanation for how this came to be.
The Reclining Buddha. Also located in Ayutthaya, The Reclining Buddha at the ruins of temple Wat Lokayasutharam is an amazing piece of history. Like many of the temples, it is made of brick covered by plaster (stucco) and is 138 feet long.
Playbill After Dark. With everyone on 8 to 10 hour tours of Bangkok, the only event scheduled onboard was Broadway Buzz at 10:30 PM. Seth Rudetsky used the opportunity to tell Broadway stories and gossip– initiated by prompts from the audience.
Today was completely overwhelming and exhausting. I’m so glad that tomorrow is a day at sea. Bangkok is an impressive city that really requires at least three or four days to adequately explore. I’m just glad we were able to see as much as we did. I’d certainly like to go back but there’s still so much of the world we want to see.