There’s a song named “Oh My God” by the Kaiser Chiefs that’s become my anthem of late and can’t be left out of this post so I gave it top billing!
Anyway back to the real reason you’re here. My first day in Bangkok was rather boring. I spent most of the day napping and trying to catch up on some sleep as I was exhausted from the almost 2 full days of travel I had experienced. To be honest a little break was nice, and when evening rolled around and my stomach began to rumble, I headed down to Khaosan Road for some drinks and food. By the time I woke up the next morning I was ready to explore Bangkok and mark a few things off my list. After a modest breakfast of fruit and a bottle of water (70 baht), I took the directions the hostel owner gave me and headed off towards Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace.
Along the way I met a girl named Annalee from Germany, and we sort of had an unspoken agreement to stick together since we were headed in the same direction. It was blazing hot outside despite being early in the morning, and I was conservatively covered in preparation for the temple, which didn’t help my overall comfort level. After being briefly separated upon entering, Annalee and I both paid the 500 baht entry fee and shoved into line with all the other foreigners. Wat Phra Kaew was to be my first temple, and the amount of people there was a little surprising, but didn’t make experiencing the magnificent temple complex any less amazing. Both it and the Grand Palace were even better than I had expected them to be. All of the intricate tile work is a lot to take in but ultimately, Wat Phra Kaew is one of the most beautiful things I’ve had the pleasure of seeing.
From the Grand Palace, we made our way on foot towards the docks and ultimately, Wat Arun. At the first dock we were told there was no boat, at the second it was the next dock over, and at the third that it was again the next on the right. Feeling the heat we stopped for some cafe where I bought a milk tea for 35 baht. It was both refreshing and delicious. Luckily for us the next dock was indeed the one we wanted and at 3 baht it was a steal for the two-minute boat ride across.
Once there, we stumbled into a small deserted temple. It was a nice change of pace from Wat Phra Kaew, and we enjoyed the quiet for a few minutes before moving on. Throughout most of the day I had been making Annalee laugh at how excited I was to see Monks. I had been keeping a running count and was up to about 12 before turning a corner outside the wall of Wat Arun and seeing 15 or more eating lunch. It was such an overwhelming number to see at one time so I decided to abandon my count as it was apparent that Monks are not an unusual sight in Thailand.
From here we paid 50 baht to enter Wat Arun. It’s a lot smaller than Wat Phra Kaew, but just as beautiful, and as an added bonus it’s also less popular so there weren’t nearly as many tourists. Being the fearless women that we are, we climbed our way up the steep stairwells to the very top of the temple. While we were there, we just happened to see three young apprentice monks with a digital camera taking photos of themselves. It was an odd sight to behold, but also nice to see them having fun.
Just before we left Wat Arun we entered a small temple out of curiosity. In it there was a Monk who was blessing people. Annalee asked if I was interested in being blessed, so we pulled 50 baht together and gave it as a donation. The Monk was very friendly and asked where we were from before throwing holy water on us with a flower, saying a chant, then tying white chords around our wrists. It was an amazing experience and quite spiritual despite the fact that I’m not Buddhist. Afterwards he told us we were allowed to take photos of the Buddha, and as a way to remember my first blessing, I snapped a quick photo before we left.
Day 1 total: about $20.33 for my hostel room, food and drinks.
Day 2 total: about $38 for my hostel room, entrance into 2 temples, boat fare, and food and drinks