My lovely cousin said that if I were to see only one thing in Bangkok, it should be the Grand Palace. I trust her judgment since she is a woman of exemplary taste, and, to be perfectly honest, she was right!
At first, I had my doubts about the value of paying THB 500 for the entrance fee, not to mention going through the hassle of dressing appropriately. Haha, all right, I was being facetious about the last part! I didn’t mind it at all, as I believe that it is more than acceptable to compel people to dress in proper attire as a sign of respect. But essentially, I was still thinking whether I should stay in Bangkok or leave the city to explore other provinces. I was considering the level of comfort and the overall hassle of relocating, but really decided against moving around too much! After all, I would still be going to Cambodia, and it might be best to really just take things slow for this week.
So, from the bus stop in front of my hostel, I took the No. 508 bus to Luang Road and proceeded to walk to the Grand Palace. According to my map, it was very close. After much staring at the map, and accepting kindnesses from strangers, I finally found the place.
Side note: One of the kindnesses I encountered was when a useful guy saw that I was staring too intently at my map decided to ask me where I was headed and encouraged me that I was on my way. One of the “motor-taxi” drivers asked me if I wanted a ride going to the place, I said, “No thanks! I need to walk. Exercise!” He was very supportive of my choice to empower myself this way. And lastly, as I pulled out my map from my bag, I had no idea that some of my money fell to the ground. I remember walking past two students (judging from their uniforms), and one of them ran after me. I could hear a faint voice saying something, but I ignored it as I couldn’t understand it anyway. Finally, I got a tap on my shoulder from one of the boys I just passed by. He was handing me money with a little bow. Apparently, they saw it fall from my bag!
Well, actually, I stood at the corner of the Grand Palace, but I decided to take a detour and walked towards Wat Pho instead! I will do a separate feature on that, I guess, so I won’t be spoiling any details. So, I toured Wat Pho and as soon as I got out, I saw a lady selling grilled delciousness so I bought one of the chicken intestines and barbeque for THB 20.
Then, I walked quite a bit to have lunch at one of the sidewalk noodle places.
Do not worry about not bringing enough water or food or snacks along your tours! If you would be walking, you can easily spot food and drinks being sold along the walkways. Even better, you would have the power to decide where to rest your weary feet!
So after lunch, I finally made my way to the Grand Palace! Considering the path I took, I can safely say that I was able to walk around the perimeter of the property before really entering it. There were several gates along the way, but, of course, there was only one entrance allowed for visitors like myself.
I did not know what I expected, really! I just thought I would be able to marvel at the architecture – which I did – but getting there, I was inundated by the flood of tourists from all parts of the world. The loudest tours were shouted in Chinese by various guides. The Chinese were visiting in droves but although there were many tourists of European looks – sorry I am doing amateur racial profiling – there were only a few Malay or Southeast Asian tourists like myself. Maybe I missed the schedule?
In any case, in the sea of tourists, there were times of calm when they would part and I would be able to savor the beauty of the Grand Palace in silence. I would respectfully keep my silence, then raise my camera to take a snapshot. Below this are some of the photos.
If you would notice, many of my shots were directed upwards in order to avoid taking photos of so many heads. If I didn’t avoid including them in the photos, this is what they would look like.
But, all in all, the architectural marvel and the detailed craftsmanship exemplified by the Grand Palace was really worth the heat, the crowd, and the entrance fee! Honestly, I could have walked around the Grand Palace the whole day. Every inch was a work of art. A true testament of the Thai commitment to spirituality, excellent craftsmanship, and love for the monarchy.
In addition to the Grand Palace and the Emerald Buddha, there are a few other sites that are included in the ticket. I would write another feature on that, I suppose, but just so you know, THAT experience was even better!
At the end of the tour, we walk back to the entrance area where we came from and you would be delighted with an additional treat: Queen Sirikit Textile Museum! I did not get to take any photos of that museum, but entering the cool air-conditioned building was a balm to the senses! Do not miss out on this essential part of the trip.
After this, since I took the bus route going to the Grand Palace, I decided to take the ferry-and-train route going home. Here are a few photos of the trip. If you wish to take the ferry, it costs THB 40 but it will take you directly to Saphan Taksin BTS Station! So it would be less hassle. I hoped to catch the sunset but I was way too early! Instead, I was able to take some photos of the buildings along the Chao Phraya.
That ended my tour, but I capped off the day by sampling some Thai street foods.