Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A Day at Grand Palace

Laddawan, Andrew and I admiring the Upper Terrace building in Grand Palace-the Upper Terrace actually consists of 4 different buildings, the most prominent in this pictures is the elaborately pointed Phra Sri Ratana chedi

Unfortunately in the frenzy of our packing up to leave Thailand, we forgot 2 important items in Stu's condo: Andrew left a pair of snazzy ExOfficio underwear (in case those of you with slightly twisted minds are wondering, I'm calling them snazzy for means of traveling efficiency--not another means of ahem, efficiency) and the essential camera wire that magically whisks pictures from the compact flash card to the computer. Luckily, there's one small saving grace in all of this forgetfulness. Stu has a wonderul digital SLR camera which he brought along on our 2 most touristy ventures: Grand Palace and Ayutthaya. He very kindly made up some photo CDs for us and here I humbly present them to those of you *begging* for pictures...

For history buffs, compulsive plaque readers (yes, I admit I am an unrelenting plaque-reader) you'll be relieved to know that there are occasionally English explanations in all of these wonderfully historic places. For those of you less inclined to take the time to read these items; in Thailand it's often an amusing experience because there are so many mis-translations, mis-spellings...which is sort of surprising in a country which is so friendly, so polite, and seemingly trying so very hard to make foreigners feel welcomed. I think I might have to make a little post later about all the amusing signs (some of which I actually took pictures of, much to Andrew's dismay.)

The Grand Palace is a large complex of buildings which was once a residence for royalty, from about 1782 when King Rama I moved the capital from Thonburi to Bangkok. The new palace included the king's personal residence as well as offices and one of the most famous wats (temples) Wat Phra Kaew, in proper English The Royal Monastery of the Emerald Buddha. Today this lovely complex is no longer used officially with the exception of western-style Borom Phiman Mansion which is a Royal Guest House for visiting Heads of State and guests of royalty. (incidentally the Royal Guest House is also one of the only places where pictures inside are forbidden).

Andrew, me & Laddawan walking towards the entrance to the Upper Terrace.I know it probably doesn't look like it, but for me & Andrew, this was not a posed picture. For Ms. Laddawan; however...I think you might be getting the idea that she looves to pose for the camera. We heard a lot of "Stuuuuuu, take a picture of me!" that day. =) The buildings in the background are the Subsidiary buildings which contain the remains of past Royal Family members (the monarchy is still alive, quite well, and much beloved), Scriptures (Buddhist, most likely) and Buddha images, some dating back to the days when Ayuthaya was the capitol city. We didn't tour inside here; I think normally you can but it was under renovation.

This is part of the Upper Terrace, as you can see there's lots of statues surrounding the building. The statues are elaborate, intricate mythical beings...all of which serve some type of purpose, just this Western girlie can't quite figure them all out. =) All of the dazzle of the gold and mosaic detail on the buildings is nearly overhwhelming. I don't think I've ever seen so much gold in my life, ever--perhaps a more suitable name would be "Grand Golden Palace".

This statue represents Thep Kinnanorn or Kinnanorn. This is a mythological male creature with the upper body of a human and the lower body of a hongsa. A Hongsa is a mythological type of bird which to me looks a miniature hybrid of a dragon and a bird.
Another view of the proud-standing Kinnanorn. I believe the building in the background is the Royal Pantheon where statues of past rulers are held.
This is the female counterpart, the lovely and surprisingly busty kinaree.
Notice how her hands are held in the traditional Thai "wai" the polite way to greet or say goodbye.

I think this is a slightly less elaborate kinaree. While the kinarees look very elegant from a frontal view their posture when viewed from the side I happened to find them a bit comical.

Stu captured this 'tourist moment' where I think Laddawan was explaining something about the building or statues to Andrew & I. Notice the intrigued expression on Andrew's face. =)

I'm amazed at how calm, cool, and collected I look because it was actually quite hot, with unbearable sun. Even in the shade next to the buildings it was not noticeably cooler. Because of the conservative Thai culture, to enter certain places (such as this) men must wear slacks, a shirt with sleeves, and sandals are prohibited. The women must have shoulders covered, wear skirts or dresses not shorter than about ankle length, or pants. In some buildings the women are provided with a sarong to wear as pants are simply not permitted. Luckily for women the definition of 'sandal' is pretty loose--you probably couldn't get away with flip-flops but you do see plenty of dressy open-toed shoes, or wedge mules which somehow (thankfully for me) don't fit the Thai definition of 'sandal'.

This picture is entirely candid shot and a very nice suprise to see after a long, hot day. Andrew is not the most photo-willing person, and this was a wonderful shot that Stu managed to capture. I think it might be one of my favorite photos of the entire trip.
Laddwan and I in front of (maybe) Garudas--half man, half bird...thought to be the mortal enemy of snakes.
More Garudas.
Sharing a laugh as Stu snaps another photo.

1 comment:

Jen said...

Thanks for sharing your pictures; it looks like a great trip.