Thursday, January 3, 2013

All Things Buddha



Happy New Year, Welcome to 2013!

We have had a very hectic first week in Thailand.  We left early Christmas Day, and 14 hours later landed in Tokyo. Thankfully we used miles and were traveling in Business class. After a 4 hour stop we flew to Hong Kong and fell into bed exhausted after 24 hours of travel.

The next day (Dec 27)  we flew to Bangkok and arrived in the late afternoon at Sala Arun, our hotel in a perfect location.  Walking distance to the main temples, and on the river opposite Wat Arun - The Temple of Dawn.  It was dark by this point but we rushed out, excited to start our  exploring.  We stopped to take some night photos of Wat Pho, lit beautifully, with a full moon.  Unfortunately, John in a daze of travel exhaustion had a "trip and fall" and did a face plant onto the side walk with his camera and tripod crashing to the ground.  Fortunately John and the camera equipment were ok, but we both thought the trip could be over before it started!

We woke up at 5am on Friday and decided to take the first ferry boat across the river to Wat  Arun, appropriately named the Temple of Dawn.  It is a beautiful temple, and was very peaceful so early in the morning.  We spent several hours wandering around the grounds and climbing the steps for different views.  We returned to the hotel for breakfast and then headed out to the Grand Palace, only 10 minutes walking distance.  The Palace is exceedingly ornate, and a large complex of many temples.  It was very busy, crowded and hot but we thoroughly enjoyed the visit.

After a busy morning we decided it was time for a massage, so we went to the market and had an hour Thai massage each.  It was an interesting experience, lying on a mat in a row and with lots of vigorous pushing and pulling.  We did feel more relaxed afterwards and ready for our last temple viewing.  Wat Pho was our favorite temple complex, and we spent 3 hours wondering around all the buildings which are magnificent.  It was a perfect end to the day.

Click on the photo below to see the photos from Bangkok.

Bangkok

On Saturday (29th) we visited the flower market, and then headed to the ancient city of Ayutthaya. Our mode of transportation was a 3rd class commuter train which cost 20 baht each (70 cents).  Needless to say the 1 1/2 hour trip was hot, crowded and loud!  At the final stop a number of dazed tourists disembarked and wandered off in different directions.  We took the ferry to the city center on the island and arranged for a Tuk Tuk driver to drive us around for several hours.  He took us to a local restaurant for lunch, and afterwards said he was having his brother drive us, which was great because Jacob had an air-conditioned car!  We toured the main temples which were unique and different to Bangkok, similar to what we may see at Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Following a tip from an English family we met on the ferry we decided to take the air conditioned bus back to Bangkok.  At 60 baht each ($3) it was a great decision and only took an hour, although we were deposited at the Bus Terminal with no idea exactly where we were!  Luckily a taxi was able to take us back to our hotel, in time for a delightful one hour foot and leg massage, a must after hours of walking around.

Click on the photo below to see the photos of Ayutthaya.
Ayutthaya - Thailand
We are currently in Hanoi, after spending a few days in Chiang Mai (northern Thailand) and Luang Prabang (Laos).  Still playing catch-up on pictures and post, more to come soon.



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