One moon, it was abandoned
In the void, yet crowded traffic of the unseen
But today, it is once again enlightened
With one last story of the foreign I’ve been
Yes, the poem above sums up what I want to tell as an introduction today. For the whole moon of September, I left this blog full of nothing but dust. But, today I’m going to clean thickness of it with one unfinished story I should write over a month ago.
It was July 29th 2011, the day started as humid and hot as I could remember. The street of NapPark Hostel was just getting busy with locals setting up their tents. I told the hostel staff that I put my stuffs until the midday when I returned from Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Pho. The pain I felt between my toes and thighs was even more obvious then, but I knew that I could not waste the God-knows-when opportunity to wander in the foreign land of white elephant.
I have shown several pictures of Wat Phra Kaew in the last post, but here, I was going to put up some picture of the afterwards trips.
It was almost 11 A.M and I realized I needed to get out of Wat Phra Kaew immediately to catch up my already-planned errands. My burned skin didn’t help much with the exhaustion that has been hanging around for quite some time. When I stepped out of the amazing Wat Phra Kaew, the view in front of me stunned of me. Yes, it stunned me in both awesome and awful ways. It was awesome to see the Grand Palace area in front of me but it was hell awful to realize that I had not taken any moment to absorb the beauty of the palace. At first, I thought I would just skip Grand Palace and headed straight to Wat Pho, but what can I say, I couldn’t say no to what I had in front of me.
The place was so crowded at that time. As far as I could see, there were people everywhere; bunch of school kids did the class photograph in front of the palace, tourists taking pictures (yeah, I was one of them), and more group of elementary students. I don’t know why but the heat was killing me at that time. I sweat like a leaky faucet, and the sweat added more burning sensation to my forehead and back of my neck! But I went through them just to take some decent photographs of the Grand Palace.
I hurriedly walked my way to Wat Pho after taking those pictures. But with the agonizing pain I felt when I walk, I didn’t actually walk to Wat Pho. I was actually dragging myself to reach that place. But there was a bright to that. With my speed, I could actually enjoy the streets of Bangkok. On my way to Wat Pho, I saw a lot strange things sold along the sidewalk from what I assumed to be ancient stones/statues to knick-knacks.
When I entered the Wat Pho (entrance fee 50 Baht), the place was not exactly like what I imagined. It was under renovation at that time and deep down in my heart, I doubted that it was actually the right place. I paid the entrance fee and started to follow the crowds. And there it was, the Giant Reclining Buddha Statue. Have I mentioned that the view to that huge statue is blocked by a lot of huge pillars as well? Well, it is! At that time, I started to think I shouldn’t drag myself here. It is actually a great thing that this huge reclining Buddha exists. My fault was I expect too much. However, now I can say “I’ve been there” if people talk about it.
I sat around for a while before I went back to the hostel and headed to Dusit Palace. If in my previous posts, I mentioned that I was going to Vimanmek Mansion, well, pardon me. I was a bit confused which one is which at that time.
The ticket to Dusit Palace is free. Well, not that free actually. When you buy the entrance ticket to Wat Phra Kaew and Grand Palace, half of ticket is the ticket to enter Dusit Palace.
I planned to get to Dusit Palace by bus. I have read some instructions I found by googling and I plan to stick to them. So, I went to Ratchadamnoen Klang Road and waited for the bus no. 70. The bus stop was quite crowded that day. With my super big backpack, I stood there looking for bus no. 70. After 15 minutes, I was starting to feel uneasy. I saw several buses with the same number repeatedly arriving at the bus stop but bus no. 70 was not amidst them. That was when I asked people around the bus stop about the existence of bus no. 70. Once again, I was stumbled upon the language problem. People around the bus stop hardly speak English and even when I tried to explain my destination with my map, they didn’t seem to know about bus no. 70.
Thank God I finally asked the right person. There was this woman who recognizes my destination and bus no. 70! FINALLY! I was a bit worried back then. Turned out, she was heading somewhere (I forgot where) with bus no. 70 as well. She doesn’t speak much English, but her intention to help me was the greatest thing ever. After 10 minutes of waiting with her, she poked me and pointed at bus no. 70 coming from afar.
The bus fare is really cheap. It is only 7 Baht. I sat in front of her at the bus and when it was time for me to get off, she once again poked me and signaling that I should get off in the next stop. I thanked her in Thai language that pretty much sounds like this “Khop khun khrap/kha”.
The next tough job was to find the entrance gate of Dusit Palace. The area of the palace is so big that I couldn’t spot the entrance gate at once. With the weight I carried in my back and the pain I carried with my legs, I walked and accompanied by the heat of the day. The sun was right above my head and I could see the hot air formed wavy images of the streets. In my desperation, I met several people who turn out to be French students. I asked them if they knew where the entrance is but they didn’t seem to know about it either. However, there was this quite curious thing happened when one of them asked me if I was Japanese. From all races with small eyes, I wonder why their first guess was Japanese. It is a mystery that I will never know its answer.
After a while, I finally found the gate. It is an extremely beautiful palace with gorgeous garden. To enter the palace, I have to put my backpack, camera bag and hat into a locker (it means no picture) and I was given a headphone with a recorder which turns out to be the audio guide for the art exhibitions inside. The moment I took the stairs, I felt this refreshing cool air swiping me. It was really good. After a damn hot trip I just had, the air-con rooms were like a breeze from heaven.
The first amazement I found was the octagonal room decorated with shiny green beetle wings. And what I saw next are indescribable. Beautiful and meticulous arts! I spent about half an hour there, and thought that it was time to end my fun journey in Bangkok.
I was really glad that I finally made my first solo trip abroad. It was a really great experience. And I guess Bangkok is the perfect place to be my first.
Last but not least, I cannot wait for more trips! I already booked flights to Penang and Hong Kong next year. But for now, that’s all folks!