Saturday, February 9, 2013

SE Asia Trip - Day 4, BKK

This is the Temple of the Golden Buddha.  He went missing during one of the many invasion attempts from the North.  Meanwhile in Bangkok, they dug up a plaster Buddha similar to the Golden Buddha.  They set him up in a small Temple.  In the 1950's while cleaning this Buddha, they dropped him and the Golden Buddha was re-discovered, hidden in plain sight!  This current Temple is only 2 years old and has state of the art security.
KFC, Bangkok style.

The King of Thailand.  
There are at least seven pictures of he and/or his Queen per city block.
It's not just a good idea... It's the law.  Or so it would seem.  King Rama IX is the longest reigning monarch in the world.  He ascended to the throne 6 years before Queen Elizabeth II.

The Temple of the Golden Buddha.
Yes, it is real gold.  The interesting thing about this picture is the wall paper in the background.
It's hand painted.  Every square metre.  And those walls are at least 50 feet tall.

Here, Buddha's right hand is pointing down, keeping evil spirits at bay.
His left hand shows that he is still in a serene state of enlightenment.

At the temple of the Golden Buddha, looking toward the chapel where the monks pray.

The monks praying, up front.

I've never ever ever seen a more religious bunch of people.

... and for that matter, I've never seen so much gold.

Ring each bell with a new, different, prayer...

The changing of the guard at the Grand Palace

This statue is of the doctor that treated the Lord Buddha.  People often ask him for help with child bearing.  By the way, the day we visited the Grand Palace was a big Buddhist holiday.  What a party!  Monks and nuns were setting up food and having ceremonies at every Wat in town.

More changing of the guard.  Unlike other countries, you can take pictures with the guards and even touch their they say...

The golden stupa was build by King Rama IV.  He is the one depicted in Anna and the King of Siam.  The current king is King Rama IX.  His big brother was King Rama VIII who went a little looney.  They called him "Rama Lama Ding Dong"

One of the Guardians... the statue, not the woman in red.  Thai guardians are depicted as  demons.

Sensory overload!  The building on the left is the Golden Stupa, the center one is the library, and the one on the right is a pavilion

This is real gold tiles.  

Another guardian.  His skin is white because he fell in love.

There are 10 different guardian demons, each with a different skin color.

This is the actual palace where the kings lived.

Just a little cabin...

Another of the guardians

This bird is in a Bhodi tree.  The Bodhi tree is the kind of tree that the Lord Buddha sat under while he was meditating to gain enlightenment.  It is considered unlucky to cut one down.

These are called celestial beings.  They are half man and half animal, and they are all different.  The building behind it is decorated all in porcelain...

This is a Naga who is guarding a doorway.  A Naga is a snake with 1,3,5 or 7 heads.  Buddhist believe that odd numbers belong to the human world and even numbers belong to the spirit world.  Therefore even numbers are bad luck.

Celestial being or chicken-man...LOOK!   A Chicken!   Or A.D.D.

The Bhodi tree

Celestial beings are everywhere!

Tourista lady

Peter, our guide.  He taught us the very beginning basics of meditation.  Then we caught him meditating...
Peter interviews prospective monks, and gives them a test for entry into the monkhood.

The emerald Buddha.  It is really jade.  It is about 3 feet tall and they change his golden clothes 4 times a year.  The King is supposed to do it but he is 86 so they let his son do it.

Offerings of flowers and incense.  Some people even offer for each year they are old...that could be a lotta eggs!

Dip the Lotus blossom in holy water and have good luck and health

More incense...

Changing of a different guard.  These are guards at the royal residence of King Rama VII.  He was assassinated and his brother decided to live in a different house when he became king.  Something about security? 

Some Chinese dude with the tourista

There is a long pavilion with a mural telling ancient stories.  This is the king talking with his generals.  Notice that generals are always depicted as monkeys...go figure!

Elephants are considered good luck.

I don't think it's loaded...

They keep the ashes of the royal family on the top floor of this building.  Unlike Europe, where they keep them in the basement.

The royal funeral home.  They keep the body on display for a year and then cremate it.  This is so everyone even from the outlying villages can come and pay respects.  I think it's a law.

The reclining Buddha.  150 feet long and about 46 high.  That's a lotta Buddha!

Paying respects to reclining Buddha.  Wats or temples in Thailand and Laos require that you take off your shoes before entering and your shoulders and knees must be covered.

A Picture in picture picture.  Think about it...


Long Buddha pose.  The feet are made of mother of pearl.  The body is brass covered with gold leaf.

The mother of pearl feet have each of the 250+ commandments of the Buddha.  You have to follow them all to gain enlightenment.

This is the only hall in Thailand where they ordain monks.  That is the permanent monks, not the temporary monks.  The chair on the right side is where the head monk sits to listen to the potential monks take their tests.  

This is the Buddha being protected from the rain by the Naga.  I think that was Saturdays' Buddha.

Another shot of the Buddha in the monks' ordination hall.  Monks can't be married.  But if they do decide to get married, they just have to resign.  No fuss about it either.  How civilized.

One of the Buddha galleries at Wat Pho.  We had a Thai massage here.  This is the site of the oldest Thai massage school in Thailand.  Great massage. 

Long boat on Chao Phya River

Here are how they use the flower garlands on the boats.  It is for good luck and no sinking!

Tourists everywhere!  Actually Thailand is benefitting from China and Japans' fight over those little islands in the South China Sea.  They have banned travel between each others' country, so they are all taking vacation in Thailand.

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