Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Staycation Getaway, Part II: Saturday and Sunday

Our main agenda Saturday was to go to Wat Arun, which is also known as Temple of Dawn (which I tend to think in my head as "Temple of Doom," which then leads me to reminisce about the Indiana Jones movies...). Its main tower is over 200 feet tall, and visitors can climb two flights of very steep steps for a great view of Bangkok. The visit was especially timely as the temple closed as of Tuesday for renovations. The renovations may take as long as three years.

East Meets West: a breakfast of congee, dim sum, pork buns, baked beans, and bacon.

To get to Wat Arun involved getting on a short ferry ride after the boat taxi ride because it is on the other side of the river.

A view of Wat Arun from the ferry.

The grounds of Wat Arun. You'd never know it by just looking, but beyond that doorway (and a few more after that) were several courtyards with cloisters and a wat.

A courtyard beyond the doorway.

There were rows and rows of these statues.

I love cloisters. Notice the pictures and names of deceased people below the statues. I have seen the same thing at Buddhist temples in NYC.

Restoration work.


Inside the wat.

Murals inside the wat.
Wat Arun.
Climbing the steep steps at Wat Arun. There are two tiers of steps. I only went up the first tier, but my two guys went up both. The second tier of steps was practically vertical.

At the top of the first tier.

View of Bangkok from the first tier. There are eight sides to the tower, so you really get a 360-degree view of the city.

Another view.

Looking down, and the building still looks so huge because...well, because it is.
Details of Wat Arun.

Wat Arun from a distance.
More statues.
Shopping at an awesome market right outside of Wat Arun. It was fun bargaining with the vendors!
Everything from sarongs to table runners to vests to pillow cases.

So much gorgeous, richly colored fabric. 
There were so many cute outfits for little kids.
Artwork made from buffalo hide and dyed to give color.
We spent the rest of the day and Sunday morning walking around China Town. While it has a lot of Chinese restaurants and stores selling Chinese products, there are not many Chinese people there.

The gates of China Town.

Ironically, the sign for China Town was not written in Chinese.

The street where we had our hot pot lunch.
View from our hotel.
Only from the side can you see that the upper stories are only a facade.
Another street of China Town.
All the random and colorful products made me nostalgic for Chinatown in NYC.
Randomness: pork rinds in the foreground and teas on the shelves.
Chinese medicine.
Pig kidneys.
Shark fins are a delicacy here, and China Town is filled with restaurants selling them. Sadly, sharks are being exploited for their fins, where they are captured and their fins cut off before being released back into the ocean.
Dried goods galore.
There was at least one gold jewelry store on every block.
There are many, many troks (alleys) such as this one in China Town. They are very narrow, only wide enough for one scooter to go through at a time.They are where you'll find all kinds of food stalls with the most basic, yet delicious, foods. The one in this picture is where we had the freshest, best fried rice and rice noodle to date, all cooked up on the spot and for only $4 for the three of us.
Giant vases.

China Town at night.

Freshly made donuts.
We had heard and read about the Golden Buddha statue, which is the world's largest solid gold statue, right in China Town, so we decided to check it out Sunday morning before heading home.  
The wat where the statue is located.

Elaborate, carved artwork on the wall of the wat.


The Gold Buddha.

"Money tree" for donations.
Our weekend in Bangkok culminated in a return trip to Siam Paragon mall, where we had gone a few weeks ago to visit Siam Ocean World. We met up with a law school friend of mine and her husband. Currently living "next door" in India, my friend had been in Bangkok for work and decided to stay for the weekend for a quick visit. I can't tell you how wonderful it was to meet up with someone from home. A positive way to end the weekend that gave me emotional strength to deal with everyday frustrations and obstacles, of which there are guaranteed to be many in the coming days and weeks, just because. 

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