Friday, July 4, 2014

APRIL 4, 2014: KHLONG TOUR, NATIONAL MUSEUM, ELEPHANT STATUE, CITY PILLAR, VICTORY MONUMENT, SIAM NIRAMIT


April 4, 2014

     Back to breakfast where I get my egg cooked to order-over easy.  Then it's all the boring usual stuff I have mainly been eating for the past 3 months-fruit, toast, juice, coffee.

     There are so many things that I wanted to do during our stay in BANGKOK but several have fallen by the wayside-some due to the protests and others just due to us wanting to take things slow.  Never thought the heat would be so exhausting!  Intrigued by research on the khlongs so we'll see about that.  We walk to the SATHORN/CENTRAL PIER and I look at all the different khlong tours on offer.  There's another couple interested and I'm thinking maybe we could do this together, save some money or go longer??  But that's not how they operate here.  Later I find that it's best to book a khlong tour from the Tha Tien Pier or even the Tha Chang Pier.  It's cheaper.


   
















     We decide to do the 2 hrs. KHLONG TOUR and I end up paying 2200 baht.  The couple ahead of us pay 2500 baht.  I'm not sure which khlongs/canals we go  through but I wasn't impressed and I wouldn't do a khlong tour again.  Maybe just hiring a long tail boat and having someone at your hotel write down which khlongs you want to see would be better.  We pass Asiatique.  I know we did have to go through a lock of some sort.  Dan khlong?  Pass Wat Nangnongvaravihara, Wat Maiyainui?, Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen, the Royal Barge Museum, back on the main river.   Wish our driver could tell us what we're seeing/passing.  After about 1 1/2 hrs. our boat driver wanted us to get off at the Tha Chang pier but I told him, pointing to my husband's watch, that we paid for 2 hrs. so he took us around a bit more and we got to the THA CHANG PIER after 1 hr. 50 minutes.  I would not waste my time on this again.  Then you have to pay 20 baht just because it's a private boat letting you off at the pier!!  As we're walking through the pier area a guy asks us if we want a khlong tour for 1500 baht for 2 hrs. and I say we just had one.  This was just not my cup of tea.  Live and learn.




























In the other boat is the couple that paid 2500 baht.  I don't understand why we couldn't go together as there's plenty of room.  I think it all comes down to the money.










Tour's idea of a floating market














Looks like a khlong boat stop??








Interesting paint job




































Looks like a floating garden





I see some monks here


















Royal Barges Museum



Back on  the Chao Phraya River

































Is this the same lock??



This was our long tail boat for our khlong tour.  Wish I knew what we had seen but the guy spoke almost no English.





Walking from the pier

Amulets for sale


     NATIONAL MUSEUM  Created in 1874 King Rama V who wanted to exhibit his father's collections but a different site.  The present site was called the Museum of Bangkok in 1926.  In 1933 it was changed to the National Museum Bangkok.  North and South wings added in 1967 and the Gallery of Thai History was opened in 1982.  We walk here from the pier.  Admission 200 baht per person.  No backpacks or purses allowed so we leave our backpack in a locker where you get your ticket.  Make sure you don't lose the key!!  You are given a nice little visitors' guide that has a map of the museum inside.  I was surprised that the museum isn't just one building but several.  Lots of them were closed.  Before going inside take some time to look at the roofs-notice the garudas/power of the King and the nagas with erect heads/fertility through rain for the land.
Entrance






     We start with the building closet to the ticket office-#1 Gallery of Thai history and in the Sukhothai section is King Ramkhaeng's first inscription and celadon ceramics.









Walking Buddha




Drum of Justice


     Then it's Building #2, Buddhaisawan Chapel which has the gilded bronzs statue of Buddha called Phra Phuttha Sihing, 13th century.  Also mural paintings depicting the life of Buddah.  In front can see platform statue of Hindu god Vishnu holding a bow and arrow.  Also creatures called tantimas-guardians of Buddhism-half bird/half human.

Tantimas-mythical creatures, half bird/half man, guardians of Buddhism

Gilded bronze statue of Buddha-Phra Phuttha Sihing



Mural paintings depict the life of Buddha
     Buildings #5 The Palace section-Throne Hall-Bussabok Kroen Throne, theatre arts, musical instruments.  Then the buildings of the South Wing-Dvaravati room #303-wheels of law and crouching deer; Javanese room #304-ganesha; Srivijaya room #305-bodhisattva; Ancient Hindu Sculpture room #306-Vishnu.


Roof-finials on top represent bird garuda symbolizing power of the King and the slopes of the roof are mythical snakes nagas with erect heads in lower corners which represent fertility through lots of rain for the land


   
Musical instruments
Throne Hall room 501



      Building #8-The Red House-traditional teak house late 18th century-not open.




     Building #7 Royal Funeral Chariots Hall  Chariots built 18th-19th century.  Still used for royal
cremation ceremonies.  Grand Chariot of Victory weighs 14 tons and needs 216 men to pull it.










The Royal Urn




     Buildings #3 South Wing:  Dvaravati room #303-Wheels of law with crouching deer signifies first sermon of Buddha in a deer park in NE India-power of the preaching was such that even the animals stopped to listen and big limestone statues ; Javanese room #304-Ganesha, Hindu God with the body of a human and head of an elephant-son of Shiva and Parvati he is the God of wisdom, the remover of obstacles, and the patron of fine arts in Thailand-most of the items in this room are from Borobudur; Sirivijaya room #305-Bodhisattva images; Ancient Hindu Sculpture room #306-Lord Vishnu; Lopburi Arts rooms #307, #308-Buddha under naga-Khmer period.









Dvaravati room-Wheel of law and deer



Javanese room-Ganesha



Srivijaya room-images of bronze and stone of bodhisattva, symbol of compassion in Mahayana Buddhism


Ancient Hindu Sculpture room-Lord Visnu, the preserver






Lopburi Arts rooms-Buddha under naga













     Buildings #4 North Wing-not open.  We also see a Resting Pavilion/Sala-used by kings for ceremonies or as a resting place.  There are 4 of them scattered through the grounds of the museum complex.  It is extremely hot right now and going from building to building over a large area is tiring.  We've spent at least 2 hrs. here.
Building #4




   
Resting Pavilion/Sala


 From here we see something interesting across the street so we go to take a look.  It's MEMORIAL OF EXPEDITIONARY FORCE.  My next target is the CITY PILLAR SHRINE.  We walk and we walk and we walk some more.  We cut through the ROYAL FIELD/SANAM LUANG-LOL!!  Pass the ELEPHANT STATUE which is pretty.  Finally all we have to do now is figure out how to get across this road in one piece!  Taking our life in our hands we make a run for it to the center of the road.  The traffic signal is no help at all.  We see our opportunity and run across the rest of the street to the safety of the other side.  Whew!







   

     









     CITY PILLAR SHRINE/LAK MUANG is located near the Grand Palace.  Per ancient Siamese belief a city pillar needs to be installed upon establishment of a new city to symbolize the stability of power.  King Rama I moved the capital city from Thonburi to Bangkok in 1782.  The pillar was made of cassia wood gilded with gold leaves.  Inside the pillar is space to store Bangkok's horoscope.  This was the first building built by King Rama I before the Grand Palace.  Later it started to show signs of wear so King Rama IV had a new one built of teak and cassia wood to replace the original one.  They can both be seen at this shrine.  There are also sacred images of 5 protective deities here.   Admission-free.  Open until 6:00 pm.  It is just too hot for me to walk back to the pier even though Richard doesn't appear to be as affected by the heat as I am.  I tell him to walk if he must but I'm taking a tuk tuk.  He gets in with me-LOL!  50 baht is a lot for such a short distance but I'm melting in this heat.



   








Five sacred guardian/protective spirits





Now we have to cross back on this street

Defense Ministry

Passing the Elephant statue again
 Back to THA CHANG PIER  I'm so thirsty I buy a coke 20 baht.  Orange flag comes first so we get on with scores of others-30 baht for the 2 of us.  This may very well be our last ride on the ferry.  Back to our hotel by 3:00 pm.  Short pool break.


   
Walking back to our hotel from the pier

     It's time to leave for the show so we walk to the SAPHAN TASKIN BTS but stop at SWENSEN"S first for ice cream.  Our last visit.  Me-hot fudge sundae with rum raisin and mocha almond ice cream, 2 scoops total.  Richard decides to go for broke!  He orders the coffee mocha almond sundae which has 3 scoops of ice cream!  Total 224 baht.  


Hot fudge sundae-2 scoops 
Coffee mocha almond sundae-3 scoops


     We take the BTS to Sala Daeng.   Then the MRT to Thai Cultural Center.  As we exit we see the free shuttle van for SIAM NIRAMIT.  Cost for 2 tickets, Golden Seat is 4000 baht paid on April 3rd when I made the booking.  The website has a secure payment process similar to paypal  but through a bank.  We arrive at the theatre complex around 6:00 pm.  As we are greeted by a hostess we give our names and confirmation # and we are given stickers , a ticket for a free drink, and lovely flower pins for both of us.  We get our picture taken and are given a #-probably to buy the picture if we are so inclined.  The show starts at 8:00 pm.  Outside the theater where we will see the show is a ton of other stuff to see and do.  There are stores to browse and/or purchase a variety of goods.  Elephant rides-200 baht.  A replica of a rural Thai village.  Music and dancing.  Areas for light refreshments like drinks.  We find a table and use our tickets for a beer for Richard and a coke for me.  There is a magician of sorts performing.  I explore the village.  I take lots of pictures but the lighting is terrible and most don't turn out so well.  Lots of dancing and music and at one point onlookers are invited to participate in the dancing.  We also get beautiful souvenir books with details of the show.  That's great because no cameras, etc. will be allowed inside the theatre.



Street life



View walking from the BTS station to MRT interchange





Silom MRT station

MRT

Free shuttle van

Passing by



Entrance



Shops

Elephant rides



Magician

Music





Posing for pictures












Dancers

Music

Dancer

Dancer??



Audience participation dancing





Dancers


Posing for pictures


     All too soon the gong announces that you can enter the theatre.  As you go in there are several lines.  There is a person at the beginning of the line that checks all bags, purses, backpacks.  No way can you smuggle a recording device of any kind.  I tell the person I have a camera-I get a pouch to put it in, and a color coded circle.  I then go to another line corresponding to the color and hand over my pouch with my camera and it is securely locked. I keep the colored circle with its number to retieve my camera after the show.  Our seats, P29 and P30, are great but then I did pay extra for the "golden" ticket!  The info I'm giving now is from the souvenir book as are the pictures I will post.
Entering the theatre hall
   

ACT 1 JOURNEY BACK TO HISTORY For over 700 years Siam/Thailand has been a home of diverse cultures.  The north-the ancient kingdom of Lanna; The south sea-traders from overseas; The northeast-heritage of the Khmer civilization; The central plains-Ayutthaya, the mighty capital.


Scene 1:  North-Ancient kingdom of Lanna.  The King and Queen in procession to worship the relics of Lord Buddha.





Scene 2:  South Sea-Traders from overseas.  Thai Buddhists and Muslim cultures blend-singing and dancing.  Chinese merchants arrive. 

Scene 3:  Northeast-Heritage of the Khmer civilization.  Villagers celebrate the festival of Boon Praweht before the Temple of Phra That Phanom.  Angels Apsara carved in stone come to life.

Scene 4:  Central plains-Ayutthaya.  Simple life of peasants.  Palace-ambassadors arrive.  Procession of royal barges.







     ACT 2 JOURNEY BEYOND IMAGINATION Thai people common belief law of karma.  Good or bad deeds now will give merit or suffering in the next life.  Blissful Heaven; Mystical Himapaan; Fiery Hell.
Scene 1:  Fiery Hell-Prayom, King of Hell and tormented souls



Scene 2:  Mystical Himapaan-This forest is a boundary between the human world and the heavens and home to various mythical creatures.


Scene 3:  Blissful Heaven-Daow-wa-dueng the second level of heaven where Indra presides. 



     ACT 3 JOURNEY THROUGH JOYOUS FESTIVALS Buddhists believe that to go to Heaven you must get merit on earth.  Merit making festivals are held all year.  Boy Sang Long/Diamond Ordination; Phitakhon/Ghost Parade; Songkran/Thai New Year; Loy Krathong.

Boy Sang Long/Diamond Ordination

Loy Krathong



     This was just amazing and I highly recommend this if you have the time.  The stage is immense.  The scenery awesome.  The costumes, the performers-out of this world.  Great special effects and overall just a mighty fine show.  The show lasts about 90 minutes.  A nice way to end our stay in Bangkok/Thailand.  I buy our picture for 200 baht-of course! The shuttle van takes us back to the MRT station.  We take it to Sala Daeng.  Transfer over to the BTS back to Saphan Taskin.  Easy peasy.  This is something else I'm going to miss-Bangkok's great, easy transportation system of the river ferry, the BTS, and the MRT.    On our walk back to the hotel we stop at the 7/11 store and purchase drinks and snacks.
Leaving the Siam Niramit theater you can buy all sorts of stuff-large and small souvenirs

Leaving

Map of Siam Niramit complex
Our flower pins from the show

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