Monday, January 28, 2008

Thailand Day 3 - Bangkok

Today we had the chance to go to the Bang-Pa In Palace, a palace grounds built by the 5th king of Thailand (they are currently on their 9th king).  The grounds were manicured and everything clean and sparkling.

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The scent of plumeria was in the air, as well as many other types of flowers.
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We weren't allowed to take photographs inside the palace itself so I had to sneak this one of the reds and golds from outside.
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Outside of the palace building.
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Some of the artwork, depicting Chinese influence.
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... and a watch tower on the grounds, that Sue, Sophie and I climbed.
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... a view from the Watch tower window.
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... again from the watchtower window, looking back at the palace of King Rama 5.
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Sophie likes to entertain herself by munching on Grandma's gold necklace.  Maybe she's not getting enough vitamins!

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Afterwards, Sue bought us some bananas to tide us over until lunch, and our tour guide, Pat, bought us some fried bananas and tarot.
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Next it was off to a temple grounds that was built more than 300 years ago, and then burned and marauded by other countries.  Here's some artwork we saw on the way in...

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The temple grounds were all built out of brick.  Work is underway now to restore these grounds but there's a long way to go.
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In old times, people would come steal the heads off of the Buddha statues, but this one was to big to carry off, so it was left here, where the roots of a Banyan tree grew around it!
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Another Buddha acting as a sentry to the temple behind.
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There were many of these structures on the temple grounds, together with the nice weather and flowering trees made it very pleasant!
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Here are the 3 boys, starting to slow down after a lot of walking and sight-seeing.
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Linda, enjoying the sights!
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As we were traveling along the street, we saw an elephant walk by with (presumably) a tourist on board.
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These temples were once covered in gold, however marauders came and burned them which melted off all the gold.  It must have been something when they were in their prime!
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Everyone is starting to melt, so it's time for a little coconut milk refresher.
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More delicious smelling Plumeria...
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Sue climbed the STEEP steps of one of the structures...
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From the top of the stairs, we could see this building which houses the biggest Buddha statue in Thailand.
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As we made our way there, Sue posed in front of this Plumeria tree.
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We found a vendor selling these small finches.  The custom is to let the finches go as an offering to Buddha and a promise to behave well towards others.
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Sophie was excited to open the door of the cage to let the birds out.
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The tallest statue of Buddha stands about 50 feet high.  Quite an impressive sight!
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There were other smaller Buddha images around the temple.  You can buy sheets of gold leaf and pound them onto the Buddha statues yourself.
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Here's Jack, taking a break on one of the bridges over a canal.
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Next, we climbed aboard a boat on the Chao Phraya river, the main river through Bangkok that serves as transportation of goods and people and is a very busy place.  Many people live along the Chao Phraya, and we started a ways outside of Bangkok where there were some little houses.

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Sue and Sophie enjoying the breeze on the top deck of the boat.
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A colorful speedboat with a small residence in the background...
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Here's goofy Peter, sniffing Sue's Plumeria flower just a little too hard...
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... and mischievous little Sophie!
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A couple more temples along the river.  There are 400 temples in Bangkok alone, and more than 35,000 in Thailand!
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A colorful little ferry passing us by...
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Some housing along the river, as we get closer to the city.
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Here's the shot of a hotel in the distance.  I liked the uniformity of all of the rooms - such a contrast to the picture above! 
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Another speedboat passing us by in the late afternoon.
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... and looking back down the river.  The white building in the center in the distance is the Sheraton Royal Orchid, our splendid hotel on the river!
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