Bangkok, The Past and The Future of Thailand

Written by: Kimy Chang

Gone were the days of the glamorous past when the late King still rule. The passing of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej cast a dark shadow over the future of the Thai’s monarchy. Statues and posters of the late king were on display along the streets and among the numerous high raised buildings in this most visited city – Bangkok, reiterating his importance to all the Thais; possibly soon being replaced with the image of their new elected King after his cremation.

The late Thai King
The Late Thai King – Photographed by Kimy Chang

The year-long mourning of King Bhumibol was finally coming to an end on the 26th October 2017. The never-ending queue around the Grand Palace mimics the boundless gratitude of the Thais towards this great leader. Without smiles, each waiting junction seemed to trigger a wave of sadness one after another from these black mourners, unwilling to say their final goodbyes.

*The famous Wat Phra Knew is also situated within this compound – popular as it is the most sacred temples in Bangkok.

Thai Mourners
Thai Mourners – Photographed by Kimy Chang

Strict laws and regulations were lifted up soon after his passing. Memories of the great King flashes on the TV screen of each home, bringing you back to the past where he still reign. Walking along the common pathway towards Wat Pho from the Grand Palace, picturesque displays of late King Bhumibol lined up along the walkways, as if one had entered into an instant historical gallery; continuously catching individual’s attention of his past contribution to the Thailand economy.

Bangkok - Wat Pho
Wat Pho – Photographed by Kimy Chang

Located about 15 mins walk from the Grand palace. Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) or also known as Wat Phra Chetuphon is one of the must visit tourist attractions in Bangkok, containing numerous numbers of small pagodas, standing Dvarapalas, lotus position Buddha statues, exquisite wall murals as well as display structures given by some nearby different countries. Before entering into the temple, one must remember to take off your shoes and never face your feet towards to a Buddha as it is a form of disrespect. Walking around the courtyard, you could also find interesting stupas decorated with various coloured tiles and Chinese statues made from ships’ ballast.

The smell from the salted river water washes away the city troubles – a definite short escape for city dwellers like us. Away from the city lights and the crowded jams, a boat ride (sampan – I would say) across the mainland brings you to a rural island named – Ko Kret island. Created due to the need to shorten the river flow of the Chao Praya river, this small island had became a very much self-sustainable place – having its own place of worships, hospital, food market as well as a century old Mon’s Kiln that only operates once a month. The Mon tribe, one of the oldest settlements in Thailand, also resides on this island, making a new discovery for those who like to have bits and pieces of what this wonderful and rural “city” brings. Travelling to this island requires a boat ride from either once weekly Chao Praya river boat (only available on Sunday) which departs from the Central Pier (BTS Saphan Taksin) or at the ferry pier (daily), which is located behind Wat Sanam Neua.

Wat Bang Chak Bangkok
Wat Bang Chak – Photographed by Kimy Chang

Diagonally opposite this island, a golden Buddha statue stood above the river water as though acting as the protector of this Chao Praya River. A boat ride from Ko Kret island to this temple, namely Wat Bang Chak, cost less than 5 Baht and nothing more than a 3 mins ride. Historical events about Buddhism vividly exhibited by comical statues of humans and animals around the temple. On one side, this temple contains important stages of Buddhism development; on the other hand, it does not lack its sense of humour. A mixture of modernised cartoon characters such as Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh and Iron Man cohabit together with these human alike statues can also be seen, loosening up this strict and conservative belief we tend to think of whilst creating an unusual sight for all visitors.

Thai Boxing
Thai Boxing – Photographed by Kimy Chang

The Muay Thai or known as the art of eight limbs is a form of combat martial arts, extremely sought after in the recent years among the young adults. The mastery of this art requires a good combination of movements among the limbs, knees, shins in order to strike down one’s opponent; needs years of training and practices. Due to the history of this famous fighter named Nai Khanomtom in the mid 16th century, this martial art has since popularised and developed to a worldwide physical exercise and is still widely recognised as the national sport for the Thais. Purchase your ticket at either the Rajadamnern Stadium or  the Lumpinee stadium to catch this powerful glimpse of a Muay Thai match.

Ayutthaya - Bangkok
Ayutthaya Ruins – Photographed by Kimy Chang

Ruins of the various Wats and palaces laid across this island as if abandoned by its landlords. The ruins of this ancient finest city – Ayutthaya – depicted the suffering it had been through by invasion and by erosion due to time. Ayutthaya used to be the second capital of Siam founded in 1350 after Sukhothai. Located about 76 km from the north of Bangkok, this ancient ruin site used to be the largest cities in the world around the 1700s. Being one of the main trading centres of the ancient time, trades from the West and the East flourished, bringing great wealth and prosperity for this island. The population grew drastically reaching about one million of inhabitants within a short period.  The invasion of Burmese in 1767, however, destroyed this robust city. Surviving buildings are now regarded to be the treasures; similar to Bagan (but much smaller in size).  It is , of course, one of the UNESCO sites worthy for tourist to visit.

Camera used: Nikon D500 16-80mm/f 2.8-4.

Tips:

  1. Dress appropriately while entering to temples
  2. Do not touch the head of any Thai as the head is treated as the most sacred part of the body.
  3. Do not point your feet towards any Buddha statues or the King. It is very disrespectful.
  4. Drinking is only permitted after you hit your 20s.
  5. Always call a metered Taxi, if possible.
  6. Try the local Thai food.
  7. Bring a hat or an umbrella as the weather can be a disaster.
  8. Beware of sidestep scams

Below are more of my pictures:

Thank you for reading my blog. All photographs on this blog, Copyrights © 2015-2017 Kimy Chang. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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