Friday, 3 December 2010

The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew

I had visited the Grand Palace twice before and decided that I needed to go again. My first visit was during my first of many trips to Thailand. I was still in the state of shock that many people experience on their first visit somewhere “exotic”. I was dazzled by the beauty of the place but wasn’t really taking anything in and certainly couldn’t remember any of the detail and history about the place.

On my second visit I was taking my parent’s on a whistle stop tour of the city whilst I was living there. We kind of rushed around in a couple of hours and again I had no time to really absorb the atmosphere of the whole site.

I was determined that this time I would spend at least half a day and really get to know and understand the Grand Palace. I would recommend anybody who’s visiting Bangkok visits the Grand Palace/Wat Phra Kaew, even if only for short time. It is spectacular and probably Thailand’s most sacred site. Wat Phra Kaew also contains Thailand’s most important Buddha image, the Emerald Buddha.

If you have longer to spend here, then half a day can easily be passed here. Try and arrive early to beat the crowds and the heat. It does get very busy here (as you’d expect of such a major attraction) and somewhat difficult to get clear photos.

Basically after you’ve entered the grounds and ignored all the touts waiting outside, you go to the ticket office and enter Wat Phra Kaew. The grounds contain many stunning buildings each with their own significance that I won’t even attempt to explain here! My favourite is the golden Chedi which contains a part one of Buddha’s bones. You can get some fantastic photos of this when the sunlight catches it. The same goes for the other temple buildings.

The main doorway through from Wat Phra Kaew into the Grand Palace grounds is a bit hidden in a far corner. Basically when you enter Wat Phra Kaew you take a left and do a circuit around the grounds, then just before you come back to your starting point there’s a doorway on your left.

The Grand Palace grounds are slightly more spacious with manicured trees and plants and ceremonial guards. The main building is Chakri Mahaprasad Hall, which is European in appearance with a Thai style roof. Again it can be difficult to get clear photos here so get there as early as you can to take photos and then take your time to wander the grounds and soak it all up. There are a couple of slightly overpriced cafes dotted around, but I’d recommend bringing your own water. There are also plenty of places you can go for some shade.

One of which are the galleries all along the walls of Wat Phra Kaew which depict the Ramayana.

One other thing not to be missed is the fantastically detailed scale model of Angkor Wat, in the grounds of Wat Phra Kaew.

Whether you’re a photographer or not, a temple lover or not, you’ll love this place!

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