the capital of
Thailand, has over 8 million
inhabitants and is known as the "Venice of the East", the "City of Angels" as well as the
"City of Sin". In the sixties, the city became a resting spot
for soldiers from Vietnam and this atmosphere staid on for a long time. Massage and satisfaction are offered at every
street corner and numerous Thai ladies are prepared to be involved. It is
said that 20% of the inhabitants are involved in sex industry.
In 2004, the city was struck by avian flu and parts of the city were
quarantined, but we have witnessed no trace of that anymore. It is a
bustling city, 24 hours a day. The traffic is really bad, and that is why
we used the subway a lot. Not only is it cheap and fast, you also get
fabulous views of the Bangkok skyline. And also traveling on the river is
a good option. The boats are not very fast, but still faster than the
taxis, which sometimes will not move even one inch within half an hour.
In the 16th century, Bangkok was known as Bang Makok (place of olives, many
wild olives used to grow around the village), and
it was a trading post. In 1782, Bangkok became the capital of Thailand.
Through the city runs the river Chao Praya, with many boats and a float
markets and temples on its banks. In
the 19th century, King Rama III built many temples in Bangkok. King Rama
IV became famous for modernizing the city by building roads and canals.
There are many
interesting tourist sites, the largest one of them being the Grand
Palace also built on the river
The palace was built in 1782 by King Rama I and is almost 220,000 square meters
large. On its premises, you can find the Royal Residence (King Rama IX
nowadays), government offices as well as the emerald Buddha, but no monks
live here. This Buddha was found in 1434 in Chiang Rai. It was covered
with plaster and only years later, when the Buddha
stuck his green nose
out, it was found that it was made of jade; emerald
refers to the color
green. The little green Buddha traveled around from Chiang Rai to Lampang,
to Chiang Mai, to
Laos and finally ended up in this grand palace temple.
The Buddha has 3 sets of clothes and thus gets changed three times a year,
a little bit like Manneke Pis in Bruxelles.
On the walls a beautiful series of wall paintings tells you the story of
Ramakien, the Thai equivalent of Helen of Troy who gets abducted and
therefore becomes a cause for war.
For a break in the temple journeys we decided to pay a visit to the Dusit
zoo, which is located opposite the Parliament (it is a real zoo out
there). This zoo started in 1938 as a part of the private botanical garden
King Rama V. The children enjoyed it, the big ones
loved water bicycles
adored the "ellepants".
The last temple we visited was the Temple of Dawn, or Wat Arun, a
beautiful temple overlooking the river with a view on the Grand Palace.
There are lots of colorful decorations and if you look closely, you can
see they are Chinese porcelain, made of old saucers and plates.
Apparently, this porcelain was used as ballast on Chinese ships visiting
Thailand and was thus recycled. The place is a lot less crowded by
tourists than the Grand Palace. However, pictures of the Temple of Dawn
seem to be more widespread than those of the Grand Palace. King Rama II
started to build the complex in the 19th century and King Rama III
finished it. But one of the temples is much older, it dates from the days
of King Taksin, before Bangkok as such was actually founded.
Long stairs go to the top of the temple, but they are very steep, and
since there were many accidents, the stairs to the second and third floor
are no more open to the public.