|World Trip Home||Post Thirteen|
The royal palace grounds in Bangkok are home to a complex of splendid Buddhist temples, or wahs, as the Thais call them.
A wide-angle shot of a wah does no justice to the intricate craftsmanship of the gold enlay, mirror-and-glass mosaics, exquisite claywork, and finely detailed murals throughout these structures. You have to get close up, as in this picture, to see the delicacy of the work. This gilded claw and its twin adorn just the foot of a staircase on one of many temples here.
|On the Chao Praya|
In a city of canals, Bangkok's Chao Praya River is the main artery for shipping, fishing, and commuting. Its banks also are lined with some of Asia's most opulent hotels, and their opulent open-air bars are the perfect spot to take in the bustle of the river on a warm evening.
We stopped by the Royal Orchid Hotel one evening for drinks, on our way to dinner at one of Bangkok's more popular fish restaurants. It was definitely was worth the extra few baht to peer over the rim of the glass and see my husband, backlit by the sunset dancing on the wakes of water taxis and river barges, smiling at me. --Karen
Many people hate Bangkok but Karen and I really enjoyed it. Similar to Glasgow, Mexico City, Athens, and (to an extent) L.A., Bangkok can be gritty and seedy but it's a completely genuine experience. Few areas are built up for the tourists so you get a good glimpse into the heart of the country you are visiting.
We spent about a week in Bangkok exploring, sorting out visas, and rearranging Karen's flight to Australia. We were also waiting for the New Year holiday rush to subside. Once our affairs were in order, we headed north to Ayutthaya to see the temples.
At last my favorite travel companion was with me again and the world seemed a better place. -- Scott
Besides spending time with Karen, I wanted to experience three things while in Thailand: ruined temples, the perfect beach, and authentic Thai food. The food was great everywhere, you'll see photos of the beach later, and the temples were found in Ayutthaya.
Located just north of Bangkok, Ayutthaya was founded around 1350 and was the capital of the Siamese kingdom until 1767 when the Burmese sacked it. It was here that the French came in 1680 to meet with the Siamese (as they were then called) to discuss trade. Thailand was fortunate to establish friendly ties to Europe. Its neighbors weren't so lucky, and are still recovering. -- Scott
|Tourism, Thai Style|
From a distance, the couple looked as if they were suspended in the air on some magic carpet, swaying back and forth, front to back, in a flowing rhythmic motion. Then the elephant carrying them came into view, walking around the bush that had hidden it.
We watched, transfixed, as more elephants lumbered toward us, crowned with pairs of Japanese tourists, their expressions vacillating between terror and delight. I couldn't stop staring as this shapeless, gray animal moved its mass forward, carrying its squealing cargo with startling grace .... -- Karen
|More Ruins at Ayutthaya|
Without the people in the lower left-hand corner of this image, you might never know how tall these soaring Ayutthayan spires actually are. -- Karen
The dominant religion in Thailand is Buddhism. This statue wrapped in a tree's roots is probably the most photographed Buddha in Thailand. Something about the calm, benevolent face - a relic from a previous age - strikes a chord in everyone who sees it. -- Scott
My Nikon takes great macro shots and I've got loads of photos of flowers. I think this image from Hua-Hin turned out particularly well. -- Scott
Scott & Karen Semyan