Thursday, June 13, 2013

New Views of Bangkok Part 2

John joined us late on Friday night (caught in Bangkok's notorious traffic - his usual 2 hour ride took him 5).  On Saturday, we looked for some unusual visitor spots and found these:

The Suan Pakkad Palace was built by one of the granddaughters of King Rama V - one of the hundreds from his numerous wives - to preserve her collections.  She started by gathering some traditional houses (just like Jim Thompson did) and using them to house her artifacts, of rocks, sea shells, puppets and musical instruments. 

We had a delightful guide who told us everything but he talked very fast and had a very strong accent - we got about half of what he said!

Next up was The Museum of Flower Culture.  Thank goodness for Google maps, because no taxi or tuk-tuk driver knew where it was.  We decided to try the tuk-tuk, who got to the neighborhood and then asked people on the streets where it was.   There was a small sign leading us to what looked like an alley, but there is was, a beautiful oasis in a crumbling neighborhood.

From the website:
"The brainchild of internationally renowned Thai floral artist Sakul Intakul, The Museum of Floral Culture is Bangkok's newest tourist attraction.
Created specially for lovers of flowers, nature and those with an interest in Thai art and culture, it focuses on Thai floral culture – an important part
of the Thai way of life. The museum also features unique exhibits of important floral cultures from civilizations across Asia such as
India, China, Japan, Laos and Bali/Indonesia.
The Museum of Floral Culture is located in the quiet residential area of Dusit. Built in the reign of King Rama VI,
it is housed in a beautifully preserved, 100-year-old teak mansion with colonial architecture,
covering a total ground area of 1,800 square meters that has been transformed into an impeccably-landscaped
Thai-meets-Zen-style garden."
Waiting for the tour:
Scenes from the garden:  (no photos allowed inside the museum)
            An altar with offerings for the spirits, complete with red Fanta, their favorite drink (really!):

We then walked toward the river, looking for the water taxi.  It was a long hike - we passed  local shops, lots of traffic, a modern mall with McDonalds and a Vespa showroom, and this ancient tree which must be one the locals believe has a spirit dwelling in it:

We needed some liquid refreshment so we followed a sign that said "Chao Phraya Cafe."  It was a dirt pathway that all the garbage trucks were turning into...but the sign looked nice so we proceeded.   After the trash heaps, we came upon a well-tended Chinese temple, then the cafe...which was really a delapidated wooden house on the river...literally ON the river, with its floor being boards over the water.  The proprietors were just the family living there.  But when we inquired about refreshment, they quickly opened the fridge and found us drinks, led us to the deck to relax and watch the boats go by.
After we settled in the chairs, they brought out a fan and faced it right at us to move the air a bit (temp was about 90 degrees) Such welcoming hosts!

We finally arrived at the Water Taxi Pier, finding local workers and wild dogs:

 I am always amused at seeing the Thai monks in everyday situations.  These young men were waiting with us and one pulled out his hot-pink cell phone, which they laughed over while waiting:

Scenes on the boat:

Approaching out destination, Wat Arun: 

This is one of the oldest temples in Bangkok; we arrived late in the day, but it was still quite busy with both tourists and devotees.  This is the entry to the temple complex:

A few buildings with many buddhas, plus several rows of Chinese statues outside the building walls:

One of the coolest things about this temple is that we got to climb the stuppa.  It was straight up and made me weak in the knees to look at it; but you have to do it!

Views from the top:

No golden roofs here; just amazing statues and every square inch covered with Broken China!

The happy couple

Dinner at "The Face Bar" after a great day of sight-seeing:

And to top of the weekend, on Sunday we found Mass in English at a local Catholic Church, St. John's, at the village of Chatachuk.  It was the Feast of Corpus Christi.  As we arrived they were finishing the procession to different altars around the outside of the building, singing praise songs and reverencing the Holy Sacrament.  As they re-entered the church, 4 beautiful little girls in white strew flower petals along the path, and then, when the priest raised the monstrance, the bells rang and the girls threw flowers up in the air over and over!  So beautiful, and so Thai.

We spent the afternoon at the Chatuchuk Market...the camera battery was nearly dead by then, and besides, you can imagine what acres and acres of tented stalls and everything you ever hoped to buy is there for bargain prices....and you are serenaded by a Thai cowboy and his banjo.

and savor the largest paea ever

Farewell to Bangkok till next time.

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