Day 7: 31st May, Bangkok
The schedule was almost the same – waking up early in the morning. I didn’t even need the alarm now. My brain was programmed to wake up on time. Every passing day made me sadder, as the end of our journey came closer. However that did not stop me from enjoying every minute I had left.
After an amazing continental buffet for breakfast, we checked out of Centara Pattaya. The journey to Bangkok was uneventful as we decided to replenish our energy by sleeping. Almost two hours later we checked in Atrium Bangkok and were delighted to have our rooms assigned within minutes, thanks to the efficiency of the staff. The rooms were very good and comfortable.
The itinerary for the day was just the Bangkok City Tour. Our guide for the day, Nikki, picked us up from our hotel. We were to visit two famous Buddha temples: the first one was the Temple of Golden Buddha (Wat Traimit). Our guide began the journey to the temple by throwing a little more light on Thailand. The old name of Thailand was Siam. Thailand is a monarchy head by King Rama IX. With a population of over 65 million, Thailand is 20th largest country in the world by area. About 95% of the population follows Buddhism.
Nikki told us that the Buddha image was titled Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon and was made completely of gold. Although the exact origin of the image was unknown, the image is from the Sukhothai Dynasty and is about 700 years old. It is made of pure gold and weighs about 5.5 tons, and it is the largest gold image of Buddha in the world. She also mentioned that the image was covered in plaster entirely to conceal it from the invaders and was the principal Buddha image in the Choti-naram temple. The image was moved to Traimit Witthayaram Temple. It was discovered by accident that the image was made of pure gold.
The beauty of the temple made it stand out. The hot sun only made the temple look grander. The cool and calmness of the temple contrasted sharply with the hot weather outside. Everything inside was really serene. After enjoying a few moments in the calmness we left for the next place on the agenda – Wat Pho.
Wat Pho is the Temple of Reclining Buddha, with the official name Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhlaram Ratchaworamahawihan. It is one of the largest temples in Bangkok with an area of about 80,000 square metres. The main image of Buddha is gold plated and is about 43 metres in length and 15 metres in height. The feet of the Buddha have the 108 auspicious symbols. There are 108 bronze bowls, in which the pilgrims drop coins to bring good fortune, and to help in maintaining the Temple. I really liked the Temple premises – it was really beautifully done and well maintained. The Temple complex is the home to about a thousand Buddha images. We split up and explored the beauty of the premises, only to meet after a quarter of an hour for heading to the next place on the checklist.
The next place due was the Gems Gallery in Bangkok as they had a tie up with our tour operator> Nikki reaffirmed the fact several times that she could only take us there and not force us to buy anything. The part I liked the most about this trip there was that we could actually see the gems being cut and polished. The hard work that goes into cutting and polishing individual stones was being displayed in front of our eyes. There was also a display which compared the stones before and after cutting and polishing treatment. On looking at the finished product, it appeared as if life had been breathed into the pieces. Too bad, photography wasn’t allowed in the area (or anywhere else in the building complex for that matter).
We moved on to the actual shopping area after a refreshing glass of Coca Cola. The place was similar to the Pattaya one and had almost the same kind of jewellery. Unfortunately for me, when I finally decided about what to look for, I noticed that they had everything except for what I had wanted. After all of us had selected and paid for what we had liked we proceeded to the hotel room for the remainder of the day.
Although a couple of decent vegetarian restaurants were there within a hundred metres I am glad we tried the food at the hotel. Among the two pizzas and the vegetarian Thai curry and rice we ordered, the Thai curry stood out. Although a simple dish, it was refreshingly different. I regret not having ordered the dish during our stay at Centara Pattaya as well.
Here are a couple of tips for those planning for the city tour:
- Do not miss out on Wat Traimit and Wat Pho. Those are the two of the calmest and most serene places I have been to in Thailand.
- Regarding the Temple visit, it is advisable to wear full length pants and tops which cover your shoulders.
- I advise spending a decent amount of time in the Temple premises, especially Wat Pho, as there is a lot to be seen.
- The Gems Gallery has a lot to offer, in terms of varieties and price range. Do make sure you visit it.