Friday, March 28, 2014

MARCH 11, 2014: WAT ARUN, WAT PO, ROYAL BARGES MUSEUM



March 11, 2014

     Nice to see that the breakfast buffet is still the same.  I have my boring breakfast of egg, toast, fruit, juice, and coffee.  Now I'm good to go!









     CHAO PHRAYA TOURIST BOAT  We walk from our hotel to Sathorn/Central Pier and decide to buy the tourist ferry pass 150 baht per person.  It allows you to travel all day, unlimited stops.  These boats are very different from the orange flag boat we went on our first stay in Bangkok.  Much less crowded and almost always there will be a seat for you.  But you do pay more for this comfort.  If you're intending to do lots of stops at lots of piers then this may work for you.  You do get a nice little book explaining the ferry system and describing the 8 stops the boat makes.  It has a timetable and other useful information.  We will get off at THA TIEN Pier  N8.
     WAT ARUN  From my handy little book that came with my ferry pass-"One of the most symbolic landmarks in Bangkok, the majestic prang/Khmer style tower dominates the skyline on the Nonthaburi bank of the Chao Phraya River.  It's really something to behold.  We have to go to the other side so we buy tickets for the cross ferry at 3 baht one way per person-total round trip for the 2 of us is 12 baht.  Admission fee to WAT ARUN/TEMPLE OF DAWN is 50 baht per person.  Construction started during reign of King Rama II and completed during reign of King Rama III.  19th century.  Blend of Khmer and Thai styles.  The central tower is 76 meters high and is symbolic of Mount Meru, the home of the gods.  The 4 smaller prangs represent the 4 winds.  Observe the statue of Pai, god of the winds, on his horse.  Represent the 4 stages of Buddha's life-birth, meditation, preaching, enlightenment.   The climb is steep but there are handrails.  It's not as bad as it looks.  It's decorated with seashells and Chinese porcelain.  Lots of demons and monkeys.  I loved this place and we spent almost 2 hrs. here.
Sathorn/Central Pier



Cross ferry

App;roaching Wat Arun






Steep stairs



Pai, god of the wind on his horse



View from central tower



































Catching the ferry back to Tha Tien pier
     WAT PO  We took the cross ferry back from WAT ARUN and walked to this temple.  Admission is 100 baht per person.  It is one of the oldest, largest, and most significant in Bangkok.  17th century.  The 46 meter long reclining Buddha is the star attraction here.  The soles of the Buddha's feet are awesome.  They are inlaid with mother of pearl to display the 108 auspicious signs which distinguish a true Buddha.  This temple compound has been a place of education of Thai medicine and massage.  You can have a traditional Thai massage right here at the school located in the grounds.  Appropriate dress is required.  More to see here than just the reclining Buddha.  Chedi of 4 kings.  Center one has the Phra Si Sanphet Buddha image from Ayutthaya.  The north chedi has the ashes of Rama II.  The south chedi-ashes Rama III.  The last one built by Rama IV for unknown reasons.  The mondop which holds sacred Buddhist scriptures is not open.





















Walls


















































Love this tuk tuk!
     ROYAL BARGE MUSEUM  We get back on the blue flag tourist boat and get off WANG LANG/SIRIRAJ Pier N10.  There are taxis at the pier and I will regret not getting one right there.  I didn't because my research said it's walkable.  Well it's not!  At least not for me on this very hot March afternoon.  I'm following the sign I see but where is this museum?  We've been walking for 30 minutes or more.  Fed up, I finally see a taxi and ask him to take us to the museum.  Round trip taxi plus waiting 600 baht.  We park the taxi, get out, and start walking through this pathway maze for like another 30 minutes!!  I'm thinking this better be good.  We finally get to the museum.  Entry fee is 100 baht per person and ANOTHER 100 baht if you want to take pictures.  Very pricey when compared to what we saw earlier today.  This museum has 8 barges with good signage as well as a display of rowers' costumes, etc.  These royal barges were used by Thailand's monarchs for centuries.  They are very ornate, cared out of teak and gilded with gold.  The prows depict mythical creatures.  They are used today in the Royal Barge Procession.  I can only imagine the sight they would present all on the river with costumed rowers.  IMO it would be something not to miss if you're in Bangkok when it's held.  Also I find out later that if you take a khlong tour, like we did, it will make a stop right at the entrance of the museum for you.  Save yourself all that walking!!  The building housing the barges is built over the water.  Our taxi takes us right back to the pier.  We catch the ferry and get back to our hotel, very tired and hot.  It has been a productive day for us but a long one.  I think someplace nice for dinner.




Here's the sign pointing the way to the museum






































This displays shows what the Royal Barge Procession looks like on the Chao Phraya River




Here's where you would get off on a khlong tour to enter the museum.  Just a short walk and you're there.  




Mandarin Oriental boat



Peninsula private boat
     Dinner MANDARIN ORIENTAL-CIAO Restaurant.  I'm in the mood for Italian.   Seating is at a table right by the river.  Very nice and elegant.  Glad we dressed up.  This meal will be absolutely perfect.  Divine food and impeccable service.  We order an appetizer to share-flat focaccia.  A small carafe of pinot grigio for me and Tiger beers for my husband.  Next is an order of raviolini to share.  OMG I've died and gone to Heaven!  Then seabass for Richard and beef sirloin for me.  Sorbetto and ice cream.  Good thing they take credit cards.  4672.69 baht which includes 10% service charge but I leave a nice generous trip for the great service we have received.  A surprise when our waiter comes to the table with a platter of additional desserts (3 kinds for each of us) with dry ice making a lovely smokey mist.  It's beautiful!  He asks if we want another of this freebie but we regretfully decline as  we can not eat another bite.  I'm given a pretty lavender long stemmed rose and we are directed to the hotel's own boat to take us back to the Central pier.   A slow walk back to the hotel cutting through the alleyway by the Shangri-la Hotel.  It's shorter and well lighted.








Night views from our table


Flat focaccia

The OMG ravioloni.  Melt in your mouth delicious!

Seabass

Beef sirloin






Strawberry sorbetto

Ice cream

Our free dessert on dry ice



Here we are on the Mandarin Oriental's private boat





My rose
       

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