The Temple of the Emerald Buddha or Wat Phra Keaw as it’s known in Thailand is one of the holiest Buddhist artefacts in Thailand and sits on the grounds of The Grand Palace. It is an absolute must for anyone spending time in Bangkok.
Recently I made a conscious effort to see some of the more obvious tourist attractions in Bangkok and one that seems to be at the top of most of the lists of ‘things you must do before you die in Bangkok’ was a visit to The Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
So I packed my bag with a few of the essentials you will need when going out in Bangkok; sun lotion, money, a bottle of water, three pairs of clean underpants, a towel, a metal coat hanger for picking locks (only use if needed). A torch, a needle and thread, three days worth of Kendal Mint Cake and a phrasebook with just one phrase, ‘I am dehydrated, please can you contact Susan at the British Embassy’, and I was off!
The temple sits on the banks of Chao Phraya River which splits Bangkok like a Yoko Ono. The best way to get to the temple is via one of the many boats that transport people up and down and from one side of the river to the other.
I love travelling this way as you get to see so much of the city and the river is still a hive of activity. If you are looking to travel by river if you’re ever in Bangkok, you won’t go too far wrong than by consulting this website
I’m not sure the boats and the number of people they allow on them at one time would pass the safety standards in other places in the world, but I am enjoying that aspect of this country. Travelling by boat is also pretty cheap too, which is something that should be employed across all cities (or ones with rivers running through them at least!). I can only really talk about London as that’s the only other city I’ve had to commute in regularly, but it cost so much to travel by boat there that it’s deemed as something only tourists did. We need to start getting more people off the roads and into boats. Anyway, I’m not running for London Mayor (…yet!), so I shall move on.
Getting Sweaty Now
I stepped off the boat at Tha Chang pier and was instantly hit by a throng of people. It immediately led me to wonder why the words ‘throng’ and ‘thong’ so similar and yet mean such different things? Maybe I should write a blog trying to answer this critical question at a later date! But this throng were all heading the same way, towards the Emerald Buddha and I instantly began to sweat.
I used to hate sweating when I was living in the UK as it made me feel uncomfortable, but here, I seem to have grown used to it. It’s just as well as I do it a lot…a hell of a lot. Today my level of wetness was a bit worse though because everyone entering the temple of the emerald buddha and surrounding grounds must have their legs covered, so I was wearing trousers. I may be a total badass rebel, but I’m also a respecter of following rules and regulations to the letter!
Inside The Grounds
Once inside the grounds of the temple I was blown away by the beauty of it (I’m serious now), it took my breath away, and I soon forgot about the sweltering heat. The whole place is, well, GOLD! Everything is gold and shiny and…well, look at it…
I’m not good at describing architecture but flip me it was big and so impressive, and the photo above is just one part of the whole site. The entire place sparkles due to the sun bouncing off the walls. Here’s another photograph that shows the colours perfectly; it also includes some guy who I think is maybe a celebrity or something – he certainly looks incredibly cool and sophisticated.
Ok, so the in the interest of also trying to be a blog that people can learn from, here’s the history bit (it won’t go on for long, hang in there!).
The Temple Of The Emerald Buddha sits in the grounds of The Royal Palace, which is still used for royal occasions such as coronations and celebrity bingo. The temple of the emerald buddha was built by King Rama 1, the first king of the Chakri dynasty which has ruled Thailand since 1782. The temple was completed in 1784. The date of the emerald buddha is unknown but is believed to have been crafted in the 14th century.
An Unexpected Celebrity Spot
As I began to leave the temple, sweaty and dumbstruck, I glanced over to my right side as something had caught my eye…something totally unexpected and almost unbelievable. About 15 feet from where I was standing was the musician and professional eccentric Bjork. I am a huge fan of Bjork from her early days with The Sugarcubes right through to her more…’testing’ material.
I usually don’t approach famous people as I always feel they must get sick of the constant pestering. I know I do. So I tried to be as laid back as possible, and I thought that I wasn’t rude to her, but to my horror, she completely blanked me. She just seemed to stare blankly ahead as if I wasn’t even there. What made it even odder was that she stood incredibly still; it was almost as if she wasn’t breathing.
The episode with Bjork tarnished my day somewhat, but the beauty and wonder of the temple and the emerald buddha was beautiful to see. I wholeheartedly recommend you go if ever you are in Bangkok. I have been to many historical sites such as The Tower of London and Wrexham football clubs home ground The Racecourse next to the bypass that leads you to the motorway to Chester. Still, there was something more majestic and magical about The Temple of The Emerald Buddha, and some of the images will remain in my memory long after the hurtful snub by Bjork.
Thank you for reading, if you liked it you can hit the like button or share, or leave a comment if you have also been ignored by a famous musician.
If you would like to know more (and let’s be honest, more serious) about this beautiful place follow this link – The Grand Palace
If you just can’t get enough of my temple inspired musings head over here The Top 5 Must See Temples In Bangkok