Monday, September 24, 2007

Wat Fatigue and Flowers at Midnight

After getting off from the pier, L and I crossed a small bridge towards the Golden Mountain of Wat Saket. The place is called as such because of the artificial hill that is a remnant of a large chedi that collapsed during construction. The hill is made of mud-and-brick and trees with their gnarly roots have since overtaken it. Scattered all over the hill are tombs with pictures of the deceased. King Rama V later added to the hill’s summit a structure that houses a Buddha relic.

Winding stairs lead to the top of the Golden Mountain. As we scaled it, a view of the neighbourhood spread before us. These are mostly old shop houses that line the nearby klong as well as the grounds of the temple at the foot of the Golden Mountain. Farther beyond, we can see the Grand Palace, Rama 8 Bridge, Democracy Monument, and other landmarks. A prayer area rests at the top of the mountain from which we climbed a winding set of stairs that led to the chedi that serves as the crown of the mountain. The chedi is decked in golden square disks. It was quite a blinding sight at the height of the afternoon sun. Devotees prayed on the foot of the chedi. Some were going around it with lotus flowers in their hands which were in a praying position. Tourists on the other hand watched in awe at the golden chedi and at the same time admiring the panorama of the old sections of Bangkok.

L and I went around the temple complex at the base of the Golden Mount after we descended from the latter. It was another conventional wat (temple), save for the intricate murals on its interior walls and its doors. We also went around the eerily silent dormitories of the monks. In particular, the red doors that lead to the courtyards caught our fancy.

A block away from the Golden Mount is Wat Ratchanatda, which features a unique temple in its grounds. By the look of it, the black roof and its spires are made of steel or some other metal instead of the traditional terracotta tiles. No other Buddhist temple in the world is supposedly like it. In the middle of the temple is a spiral staircase that brought us to its upper levels. We took the opportunity to inspect the spires closer. They look pretty surreal and dramatic. I hope I had much better idea what the architectural style was about.

We shortly visited an adjacent temple, Wat Thepthidaram Worawihan, with its intriguing walls and Chinese ornaments.

Experiencing wat fatigue already, we stopped for lunch at this charming restaurant near the Bangkok City Hall, after which we made a quick stop at the Giant Swing. From there we walked the few blocks to the chaotic backpacking area of Khao San Road. To cap off the day, L had foot massage and I had Thai massage. An elephantine woman was my masseuse this time and I was practically crushed under her weight. I think I still have bruises from that massage session. This was followed by a quick snack at Burger King where L suggested that we walk roughly eight blocks to the largest flower market in Bangkok (I forgot the name of the place). And this was close to midnight already ha, so the streets were virtually deserted but still safe.

Just like most places in Bangkok, the flower market, even in the middle of the night, was one overwhelming place. Rows and rows of flowers line the pavement. Colours explode all over. For only 20 baht (roughly 15 pesos) one can buy a dozen of long-stemmed roses. Orchids were also in abundance together with a mind-blowing array of flowers, some of which I’ve seen for the first time and thus could not name.

After exploring the flower market, we found ourselves in the midst of more tiangges that occupied a good section of the sidewalk. People had a good time doing some late night shopping. But for L and I, we were already pretty exhausted to buy anything at all. So before the clock struck 12 midnight, we each took a cab and went home.

L, thanks for being such a great walking companion. And we can work on the poses next time. Just remember to elongate your neck and jut your jaw and you’re off to a good start. And pout of course.


Kyle said...

Btw, I love the long hair. It looks really good on you.

kawadjan said...

thanks kyle. oh, the hairdryer has become soooo indispensable.


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