Bangkok’s Grand Palace and Vegetarian Festival: Shimmering Wats and Sizzling Woks

Welcome to Bangkok 

22116812199_698aafc181_cSawatdee kaa’ and greetings from Thailand! 😀

So far, I have had a full week in Bangkok, to sightsee and settle down before starting the new semester. 😀

For starters, I moved into Purita Residence, located in the Silom district of Bangkok.
22329370876_029bd7434c_cNote: This is just temporary, while I look for a permanent apartment. 🙂

Silom is a southern district in Bangkok, nestled along the banks of the Chao Phraya river. Bangkok_regionsbig

Bangkok Shopping

Bangkok is ranked as the hottest city on the planet, so light breezy fabrics are essential. 😀
22382010775_547ff79f3a_bSince my move to Thailand was unanticipated, most items in my suitcase involved winter clothing, including a parka and boots. :/
Therefore, I knew building a proper wardrobe was high priority, unless I wanted to melt. Hah. 😛

Luckily, Bangkok has numerous night markets, and themed shopping malls to choose from. 😀

My first themed mall was Terminal 21, which seemed like a smooth transition after my recent visit to the airport.
21733241304_67e740ce60_cTerminal 21 simulates the airport atmosphere, and gives visitors the chance to travel the globe in a few short hours. The destinations are divided by floor level, and include famous cities like Rome, Paris, Tokyo, San Francisco, and even Istanbul. 🙂
22169051849_56de3a9aff_cDéjà vu. 😉28390354_WwgdB31XFBfMNp5wqmacmHlLrr0T-zmjd3LUzkCSgaUDespite the plethora of clothing options, I ended up buying three new outfits for $5, outside a noodle shop on a street corner. 😛

Bargain hunting at its best!22329371006_cd6cdc4ee2_oSpeaking of too many options, I was completely overwhelmed by the choices at the grocery store as well. I spent almost 30 minutes in front of the drink aisle alone. 😀

Grass jelly, collagen beauty drink, and soymilk with job’s tears.

FYI: Job’s tears are seeds from the grass family. They are not related to how work sometimes makes you cry. 😥 Haha. 22329370896_8480b79d3e_cSurely some of these can’t be legal in America. :/

Matcha latte, rice punch, chicken drink, and ??? drink.
22167484460_7bb3274181_cChocolate and banana flavor, with essence of chicken. A special treat for the sweet tooth out there. 😛22170973998_0cd049b547_oWTH? Real bird’s nest?
22170973958_6465c9da4c_oNot so surprisingly, I decided on a drink with more recognizable ingredients, an iced latte. 😀

Navigating Bangkok

Getting from A to B in Bangkok is surprisingly easy, since there are various modes of transportation. With buses, metros, ferries, taxistrams, and more adventurous tuk tuks and motor bikes, there are almost too many options to choose from. 🙂22277831606_6e048a28bd_cThe BTS or sky train in Bangkok is clearly mapped, cheap, and air-conditioned. People even line-up nicely before boarding. 😀
The biggest challenge here has been dealing with crazy drivers. I feel like I’m in a game of Frogger, selecting the opportune moment to walk across the street.frogger-3d-ss5Also, make sure you don’t step on any loose coins on the sidewalk. :/

22170974018_279ca6d9ea_oIn Thailand, stepping on loose coins is illegal, since you are stepping on the King’s face. :/
That being said, it’s also illegal in Thailand to leave the house without wearing underwear. 😛i_love_heart_going_commando_dog_tshirtI’m not sure how they’d know if these rules were broken, and hopefully nobody is monitoring this. :/

That is unless you ‘pull a Marilyn,’ and walk over a drafty grate. 😉Marilyn_Monroe_photo_pose_Seven_Year_ItchThat being said, some Thai rules that are closely monitored include the dress code at Thai temples.

Thailand is over 90% Buddhist, and full of gorgeous golden temples.22312283671_1ce753d28c_cVisiting the shimmering golden wats of Bangkok is a privilege, and there is a defined temple etiquette when viewing these religious sites.22114931158_9ffe6670a5_c (1)No shorts or bare shoulders allowed.22116812129_1d2ee4faf3_cLuckily they have skirts, robes and scarves for both men and women to wear. 😀
22167484340_4296ca26dd_oRemain silent during your visit, which is actually quite peaceful when visiting the temple grounds. 🙂22330814495_0c9b5c362e_oAbove all, show respect to the buddha. 🙂22355716625_0925de5263_cOnce you’ve mastered these rules, you can feel at ease as you wander through the temples and opulent buddha shrines. 🙂22167484400_3f993b2747_oDuring my first week, I check out the most famous temples in Bangkok: Wat Phra Kaew inside the Grand Palace, and Wat Pho, also known as, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha.

Shimmering Gold Wats 

The fastest and cheapest way to Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Pho is by ferry-boat along the Chao Phraya river.Grand_Palace_location_Map.svgFor 50 cents, I took the orange express boat up the river, dropping me off only a few feet from the palace gates. 😀
22277415666_64ae1af1e5_cChao Praya River

The Grand Palace: Wat Phra Kaew and The Emerald Buddha

The Grand Palace is not just one building, but actually a complex of various temples, palaces and chapels, all surrounded by a grand gated wall. 22312283791_bac9582f6f_cIt had been occupied since the 18th century, by King Rama and the royal Thai family, until the absolute monarchy was abolished in the mid-20th century.22312283741_01989a81b3_c22302064685_1cfb50821c_c22313022331_7a832ecbfa_c
22276313316_6261ae7824_c22313022291_c22fa92f85_c22276313166_1fdbccf975_c22276313286_b7a2512e80_c22330814515_23fe154c84_c22302064795_1c07dde1fb_c22359699106_a4975d3d0a_zThis is the Royal Pantheon, which houses statues of the first eight kings. The building opens its doors only one time per year, on April 6th. This is Chakri Day, when Thailand recognizes contributions by the all the kings in the dynasty. 

Temple of the Emerald Buddha

The most famous site in the complex is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which houses a carved jade sculpture, sitting upon a golden altar.22116812159_6302f4cb6e_c21710010603_7bcab36ee9_c
The buddha’s garments are also changed 3X per year, which is an honor bestowed only upon the current King.  21710010773_feb0468bbf_cWat Pho is the oldest and largest temple complex, with a collection of over 1,000 buddha statues.
22356237485_9366c4cf32_cAdmission will cost $5, and includes free drinking water. 🙂
22329370916_b3df0208db_cThis Ubosot or ordination hall houses the oldest buddha statue in the complex, sitting in a meditation pose on a decorated pedestal enlaid with ashes of King Rama I. 22329371036_57ecb45864_cThe most famous buddha in the temple is undoubtedly the reclining buddha, a 46 meter long gold-plated statue.27220685023_cb851f8f06_bHanging out with the buddha. 🙂22359699166_d7be8d61ce_zAfter all that sightseeing, I surely worked up an appetite, and I was ready to try out some local cuisine. 😀

Sizzling Woks

Last week, Bangkok celebrated Vegetarian Festival in Chinatown.

22277415696_318ca8005d_c22277415786_72027f9ba8_cVegetarian Festival honors the nine Emperor Gods, and occurs on the ninth Chinese lunar month each year.22303284875_0413c03463_cRules during Vegetarian Festival seem quite strict and slightly comical, but that seems to be a common theme here. 😛22369603242_17614aa38b_z (1)
I had read the best street vendors in Chinatown were found on an unsuspecting street, lined with auto repair shops. :/
21710010713_f116be29ec_o22382010725_5d37f9a836_bMeatless skewers with a spicy chili sauce. 🙂22302786865_5417009e5b_c
Mushroom coconut curry.22302786835_5a763f15a7_cSizzling wok full of crispy golden tofu.
22303284895_454cd27217_c22302786895_b1d0511130_cCorn and peanut cakes, topped with sweet and sour sauce. Simply divine!
22114931208_e8ae357f15_cAfter all that walking and munching on fried foods, I was ready to cleanse my mind and body with a little yoga sesh. 😉
I decided to take my first hatha flow yoga class at Yogatique in the trendy Sukhumvit district.
21733275184_3df71b9ec4_cThe hatha flow class focused on continual movements, combined with held poses, which were perfect for stretching my sore muscles.

My trainer Kate was fantastic, and I met a nice girl named Ty, who is working with the Peace Corps in Northern Thailand.

Yogatique Website

Overall, a successful intro to Bangkok, and a warm welcome in the country known as “the land of smiles.” 😀

Finally, on Tuesday I began working at Assumption College Rama II.ASSUMPTION-COLLEGE-RAMA-II-07This school is a literal breath a fresh air, located in the remote countryside of Samut Sakhon.ASSUMPTION COLLEGE RAMA II CAMPUS

Assumption College Layout

Assumption College Website

So far, I have been more than impressed with the facilities and the staff. 😀

The students are respectful and the curriculum is well-defined, with specific aims for each lesson outlined by Bell English.

So far I’ve only been completing administrative tasks, but I’ll begin teaching next week. Can’t wait to get back in the classroom and meet the kids. 😀

Until then, we have a three-day weekend where I plan to visit the tranquil mountains of Thailand. The weekend is sure to be an animal lover’s dream. ❤

I’ll tell you all about it next time. Until then. Enjoy your weekend everyone! 😀

5 thoughts on “Bangkok’s Grand Palace and Vegetarian Festival: Shimmering Wats and Sizzling Woks

  1. So glad you are enjoying your time in Thailand , my family is from there and it is a beautiful country. If you get a chance I encourage you to venture out of the big city of Bangkok and visit more isolated temples, and the ocean side .
    Mee sa nook (:


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