Sunday 20th January

We had an early start this morning to drive from the deep seaport for about 2 hours to Bangkok city centre.

It is a city of about 13 million people so Sunday morning traffic helped ease the journey. We drove to Wat Pho which is one of the quieter Buddhist sites in the city. It has a large collection of Buddha images in Thailand and the country’s earliest centre for public education. The grounds cover 8 hectares and is a working centre as it is the national headquarters for the teaching and preservation of traditional Thai medicine.

The centrepiece is the sanctuary which houses the Reclining Buddha. It is modelled around a brick core 46m long and 15m high. Finished in plaster and gold leaf it is an imposing statue surrounded by walls covered with murals depicting the previous lives of the Buddha.

The soles of the feet are inlaid with mother of pearl and even have details of the underside of the toes. This building is surrounded by galleries containing images of Buddha and towering tiled pillars as well as granite figures of Chinese opera characters which are thought to have arrived here in the 19th century as ballast in Chinese junks.

We left this site in a convoy of 18 tuktuks. We were in the lead vehicle and our driver was in communication with the 17 others. We crossed the city like a Grand Prix warm up lap to reach a riverside hotel for lunch. At the hotel our driver quickly pulled across the oncoming traffic to allow the 17 others to enter the courtyard. A fantastic move but not allowed in F1. Lunch was delicious, but we still had 2 more temples to go!

We saw a Buddha standing and a seated Buddha but by the last one temple fatigue had kicked in for, as in China for example, all of the buildings are the same.

We embarked the ship at dusk and as we write we are preparing for a 6:00 a.m. breakfast as tomorrow we go to the countryside to witness everyday life.





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