Today Diana and I visited the Grand Palace (a tourist hotspot). It served as the official residence of the Kings of Thailand from the 18th century onwards. Construction of the Palace began in 1782, during the reign of King Rama I, when he moved the capital across the river from Thonburi to Bangkok. We took countless pictures of all of the intricate detail work on what seemed to be every surface; every nook and cranny of Palace & surrounding buildings. From the shimmering REAL gold leaf bestowed upon the buddha statues by visiting worshipers, to the artists restoring these relics, before our eyes. It was a truly amazing experience. The large gold tower is called, Phra Si Rattana Chedi. It was erected by King Rama IV in 1855 and regarded as the most sacred in the Royal Chapel. The interior is hollow and contains smaller stupas (tower like version of the outside) containing sacred Buddha relics. It is said that King Rama V had the exterior covered with golden mosaic tiles imported from Italy. All I know is that it was beautiful in person.
Being that it seemed like every street leading up to monuments like this were filled with tourist traps, Diana and I agreed that we like what was going on here, when it came to our money. The cost was pricey for Thailand, and we were informed it had cost much less in prior years. With the ongoing restorations, however, you could see where your money was going. I loved that there were some parts still not restored to all of the original splendor. I was floored and barely had a calm thought in my mind while I enjoyed the scenery. Daydreaming of what I must have been like to be a traveling merchant, or visiting leader from a far off land. The glass work reflected the sun like millions of sparkling diamonds. The stone and masonry work, seamless and flowing like modeled clay. It was truly impressive.
While we were prohibited from snapping shots of the famed emerald buddha, we found this one, impressive and majestic in its own right. To find this buddha, you have to work your way through the maze of buildings and halls, in the complex where the reclining buddha is on display (see below).
Wat Pho was up next after visiting the Grand Palace. Known also as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. The official name is Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram Ratchaworamahawihan. What was really interesting is that this particular temple is considered the birthplace of tradition Thai massage. What was more impressive is the sheer size of the gold plated Buddha, about 151ft long (46meters) and 49ft high (15 meters). The feet of the Buddha are hand carved and inlayed with mother of pearl.