The Wat Arun Temple was a fun night of photography. The vantage point for this photograph was extensively researched on the internet in advance. I’m sitting on the second floor of a bar having drinks using a special low profile tripod (Platypod) which fit perfectly on the wooden railing along the perimeter of the bar. I never made the journey across the river to actually visit the temple.
Wat Phra Kaew Temple
One of several incredibly ornate gatekeeper guards at Wat Phra Kaew. It is impossible for me to imagine how much time and effort was put into making such elaborate temples and decorations. The over-the-top ornamentation is everywhere, not just a statue or two and not just a couple buildings, but acre upon acre.
In addition to the numerous Thai guards, there is quite a variety of human and animal hybrid statues with religious and mythical origins. Some are from the Himalaya mountains and are said to be invisible to the human eye. Somehow that did not deter the artists from making apparent life sized statues of these creatures. These statues have combinations of rooster and tiger tails, swan and chicken feet.
I have really done my best to limit the number of otherworldly and unique creatures posted here. However, everywhere you turn in these temple grounds is yet another colorful, imaginative character staring at you. There creatures encircled a whole building, appearing to be hold it up. Despite the heat, it was exceedingly crowded and nearly impossible to get a photo without many other tourists jumping into my picture. To make getting photos without the selfie seekers in my frame more difficult was the language barrier and me doing the unimaginable, trying to take a photo of just the decorative characters.
Keep in mind the temperature is about 95 degrees and the humidity is well above 90. Much more so than in the USA, Asians really protect themselves from the sun’s damaging effects. This reminded me of the old television show “The Invisible Man.”
Wat Pho, Home of the Reclining Buddha
Then just by dumb luck I stumbled upon the temple of a famous reclining Buddha. It is quite a spectacular sight for a tourist who did zero homework and did not know what to expect. I did not ask if it was okay, I just set up my tripod in the dark hall and took numerous photos.
Of course I obeyed all the signs I could read and watched out for pickpockets.
Buddhas for Sale on Walk Home
I could not come close to walking the entire distance to our hotel, but thought I would start out in that direction and see what I might find. Soon it became apparent this was a bad idea. It was hot and very humid. No taxis were visible other than tuk-tuks which are not available for such a long trip. So I kept walking. Along the way there were many stores selling large golden Buddhas. It does not seem possible for this to be a growth market. The statues would never break or wear out and would get passed on from one generation to the next. Maybe more Buddhas are only sold as the population grows or the Buddhists become wealthier.
Some statues were of very different cultures. This is Kali, a Hindu goddess. There are several tales as to why her tongue is sticking out. Rather than make this a religious history lesson, it should be enough to know that if you wish to have such a six foot tall statue as a centerpiece in your living room, they are for sale in Thailand.
Don’t think you have a place for your newly purchased bigger-than-life sized Buddha? Apparently just about anyplace is acceptable for its display.
An umbrella would certainly have helped in this heat. I eventually got into an air conditioned cab and headed home. The cab fare to return home was always much higher than getting to the destination for some reason. Much more so on this trip as the cab driver raised the price on me three times during the drive. This was due to bad traffic along the way. I was in no position to argue and was only grateful for the air conditioning and that he would even stop for such a sweaty tourist in the first place.
Photography Notes: I’m always watching for photo opportunities which best depict the city I’m visiting. I saw these two monks walking toward me a half a block away. I crossed the busy street to get some distance between us. Then I needed a background which was not too busy. Timing of the photo between passing cars and buses was also important.
Thailand Street Treats
As much as I like the spicy Thai street food, I just could not bring myself to walk down and get any of this street fare. I was totally soaked from the heat and only wanted to find an air conditioned cab and get home. But it sure looked inviting.
Not all of the Thai food was as tempting. I likely would have tried some of the bugs if I was with a brother-in-law or some friends daring one another to try such treats. As it was, I would definitely have been the only one to try eating these insects and likely the only one to know that I actually did try them. The rest of my party had walked on… I’m not sure I missed out on much.
The World is Wired
From Romania to South America to Thailand, the world is wired. Wire masses such as these are generally internet wires, not telephone cables. These countries largely skipped the telephone wire era and went directly to wireless phones. Government provided power is generally neatly strung along the top of these poles. The internet providers are left to fend for themselves on the bottom rung. In the hotels and condos where we stayed we generally had fairly good internet connections.
Cooler weather lies just ahead, in Japan.