|Elephant statues at an intersection near The Grand Palace in Bangkok|
|Chatrium Riverside Hotel - Bangkok|
We walked down to the boat dock at our hotel each day and caught the shuttle boat down to the tourist boat dock for our daily adventure in Bangkok. Then we returned each night to check in with the ex patriot on twitter to see what was happening in the areas we could not visit. For every beautiful Buddhist temple visit we visited we read of hand grenades being tossed at police or shopping centers in the inner city areas.
The day we visited the beautiful Grand Palace we had to walk past the Department of Defense surrounded in barbed wire bringing back the reality of the danger in the city around us. But for every barbed wire we saw there were overwhelming art and colorful Buddhist temples to fill our memories. It was difficult at times to take it all in and also face the reality of what is going on in Thailand. There is very little on the news here in the west about the problems in Thailand. I was completely unprepared to deal with the beauty and also the ugliness of the situation in Bangkok. I never had to witness the danger and the protest thanks to Richard Barrow and his updates. But for everything beautiful that I saw there is that memory of the updates and photos of the bombings and deaths I saw in the daily news updates. I was far removed from the danger but I could sense the loss and sadness around me.
|Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho in Bangkok|
I will never get over the image of the gigantic reclining Buddha I saw at Wat Pho in old town Bangkok. After walking through the temple and being overwhelmed by the beauty and the mystery of the images around me I had to take time to stop and let it all sink in. At times there was too much to see and take in all in one day. My mind could only accept so much before it all became a blur. This was not the Madonna and Child I was used to seeing in European churches. This was something completely different and very foreign to me. This was not the Basilica in Milan where I had to take off my hat before entering. This was a Wat where I had to take off my shoes and wear long pants instead of shorts in reverence to the Buddhist who worship here.
|Taking off my shoes before entering the Wat to see the Reclining Buddha|
I returned to my safe hotel on the river front in Bangkok. I went to dinner and spent time with other tourists who were enjoying their vacations. There was an interesting band playing at our hotel in the restaurant on the bank of the river. The lady singing had been a contestant on The Voice in Thailand. I even was asked to get up and dance with her, which I did with much delight. And I went back to my room that night with many memories of things that I had learned that day about a culture I knew nothing about previously. I went back to my room with a camera chip filled with beautiful and fascinating photos. I went back with a brain on overload being unable to take in and appreciate all I had seen. And I went back to read about three children who lost their lives that day at a shopping center in the inner city.
Bangkok will stay with me forever. I would love to return someday and see the areas I had to avoid. But for now I have to sit back and try to make some sense of it all and to reflect on what I learned in Bangkok.
To be continued......
|Larry with a guard at the gate to Wat Pho in Bangkok|