The Grand Palace is the main tourist attraction here in Bangkok and both Mike had been the last time we were both in Bangkok (Mike in 2007, me in 2006). When we had dinner with the Chungs, they said if we’d been to Grand Palace already, we should skip it and see Ayutthaya instead. Ayutthaya is an hour north of Bangkok, so we are going to leave it for the free day we have after we get back from Chiang Mai since we are leaving on the night bus tonight.
We had time this morning though, so we went to the Grand Palace anyway to have a look around. The day was pretty gray which provided nice cover from the sun but we also got caught in a downpour with no umbrellas in our way out.
The Grand Palace is a huge complex and includes the Wat Phra Kaew, or the Emerald Buddha. The palaces are incredibly ornate and intricate. Here was where we ran into our first swarms of tour groups in Thailand. Of course my Chinese tour group people did not let me down. =) To get in, you have to be properly dressed and I didn’t know this last time so I had to rent clothes to get in. This time I was better prepared! No shorts or tank tops, which is tough in hot and humid weather. This is the view right before the entrance:
Once you get into the complex and enter through the Wat Phra Kaew gate, it’s a breathtaking sight of gilded towers and tiled temples.
I loved the golden tiles on the stupa. Reminded me of my mirror tile table I made for my old NY apartment!
There’s one particular golden spire that’s held up by demon-looking statues. Each face is different and the colors just pop against the gold.
All around the grounds are covered walkways with extremely detailed murals painted on the walls. What’s to striking about the murals is the use of gold paint. Under the covered walkways, it’s like the gold is almost glowing in the dark, contrasting against the other muted colors of the painting.
After touring the Grand Palace, it started drizzling so we decided to duck into the brand new Queen Sirikit Textile Museum on the grounds. This museum is probably one of the fanciest that I’ve been to! Completely brand new and the staff came up to us multiple times to let us know we could ask them any questions while viewing the exhibits. That’s never happened to us before in a museum! Great service. So textile museum sounds kind of boring, but it actually turned out to be really nice!
The museum covers how Queen Sirikit (the current queen who started her reign with the king in 1950) supported rural craftsmanship in textiles and weaving and created the modern Thai-style dress. The dresses on display are gorgeous—detailed patterns on silk brocades and incredibly intricate beaded embroidery. We were really impressed by the exhibit! They didn’t allow photographs so unfortunately I don’t have any to share. Here’s one I found online of Queen Sirikit from 1965 Vogue in one of the dresses that was on display.
By the time we got out it was pouring so we had to sucker up and buy an umbrella off the street and run to find a cab. We didn’t get to go to Wat Pho (the reclining Buddha), maybe on one of our other layover days…