On the Steps of the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand
Hot, Hot, Hot.
The predicted temperature in Bangkok will be 42 degrees! This does not include the humidity.
Some businesses and venues are open; some are closed for day two of Songkran in Bangkok. Staff at our hotel isn’t entirely sure what is open or closed. Many of them are too busy throwing buckets of water at passers-by in the street. And they are in their uniforms too!
There is a certain level of frustration growing as we experience the feeling of being trapped in our hotel for yet another Southeast Asian New Year’s celebration. First it was Nyepi in Bali, with no lights and no movement outside our hotel for 24 hours. Now, Songkran in Thailand. We can go out but can’t keep up with the demand for dry clothes! I do head to the front desk and discover that the Grand Palace is open today and we decide to make the journey across town to the house that King Rama I built in 1782. We must of course, be properly attired and this means long pants, sleeved shirts and no flip flops. Ugh! We step outside and immediately break sweat.
On the Steps of the Palace
We arrive about noon and the crowds are enormous. We make our way around the various Phras and Chedis and marvel at the detail and beauty of the grounds. We head into the Royal Monastery of the Emerald Buddha with all the other Thais on pilgrimage. The Monastery houses the famous Emerald Buddha and this Wat is the most revered in Thailand because of its connection to the Royal Family. Everyone is out celebrating Songkran and covering the Buddhas with water, both plain and flower scented.
The Emerald Buddha
The Emerald Buddha is in fact carved from a single block of Jade and was first discovered in 1434 when movers accidentally dropped it, releasing it from inside its plaster Buddha casing. The statue dons a different costume for each of the three seasons in Thailand and is changed by the King himself, who climbs up to the image because it can be lowered for no-one. It is as crowded and policed as the Sistine Chapel is, and we step back and allow the faithful time and room to pray. The walls are covered in beautiful paintings depicting selected events of the Lord Buddha’s life. We’re not allowed to take photos of the Emerald Buddha.
We move outside, our feet burning on the granite tiles and quickly put our shoes on and head for some shade, but there is not much to be found. There are many, many beautiful things to look at. The heat and crowds are beginning to get too much for us and we decide to call it quits and head back to the hotel for late afternoon naps and early evening Songkran yelling and whooping.
Outside our hotel the street is alive with screaming, screeching, whistling water throwers waiting for us to leave our hotel for a wet supper.