Getting to know Bangkok

So, when we’re not volunteering, most afternoons they take us out to see different parts of Bangkok.  It’s weird, because where we’re staying is very un-touristy, so it’s kind of a shock to all of a sudden be thrown in the middle of thousands of “farang” (tourists).  It’s funny, because it feels like the tourists are some complete separate entity, and we side more with the locals.  Of course, the locals probably wouldn’t agree.

Last night we were supposed to go bowling and to do karaoke, but half of the volunteers went away for a long weekend, so they decided to take the rest of us to Chinatown instead.  Which was fabulous, because I am not very into either bowling or karaoke.  Chinatown was interesting (I feel like I’m saying interesting a lot). It seemed a lot more… authentic I guess… then the other Chinatowns I’ve seen.  Here’s some photos…

Today we went to the Grand Palace, which used to be the palace of the king, and also has a Wat (temple) that contains the Emerald Buddha, which is about a foot tall, but made of solid emerald.  Unfortunately my picture doesn’t look so great and I’ll have to try to Photoshop it once I get home, but here are some of the other pictures of the Grand Palace…

After that we went to Wat Pho, which is another temple (there’s like thousands of them in Bangkok alone) that is important because it holds the biggest Buddha statue in all of Thailand.  All the Buddha statues are in different poses and this one is reclining.  It fills a whole building that was built just for it, except apparently not very well because part of it still sticks out through the roof. 

Interesting note about Bangkok… ! They love, and I mean, LOVE their king. People always talk about him as “my king” and there are huge billboards and pictures of him EVERYwhere.  If I were him I would get really tired of seeing my own face on every building.  It’s crazy. Half the people are always wearing yellow because that’s his color, and they sell wrist bands like the Lance Armstrong ones that say “I love the king”.  I bought one, of course, have to fit in with the crowd.  Anyway, the king’s sister died a month or two ago, so now the whole country is under 100 days of mourning.  Over his sister! Literally there are crowds of people wearing black in her memory, and now her picture is up in half the places too.  I’m just wondering what would happen if Jeb Bush died. I’m thinking there wouldn’t be any billboards.

Tomorrow some of us are going to try to go to the weekend market, which apparently is ridiculously big and sells everything from t-shirts to owls and puppies.  Then Sunday I have a tour scheduled to go to the floating market (which is a market that floats, ha ha) and to the Tiger Temple, where I get to walk with real live tigers and.  Hopefully I’ll live to post again, but you’ll just have to wait and see.