Our first full day in Bangkok started off with a bus ride to the main part of the city. We were picked up by students from Chulalongkorn University and they greeted us with traditional Thai sweets. They were both unique and amazing, we had Kanom Chang (layered jelly cake), Kao Tum Mud (coconut sticky rice in banana leaf), & Luk Chub (mung bean cakes).
Visiting the Grand Palace was our first site to see on our tour. As our bus pulled up to Phimanchaisri Gate, we were greeted by 15 – 20 Thai Army soldiers marching with what looked like AK-47s. This was a little disconcerting for my first foreign trip. As we sat in front of the ticket counter I remembered thinking, what did I get myself in too!
The Grand Palace lived up to it’s name and while strolling through I couldn’t help but be amazed by the intricacies of the various statues and buildings. We saw the Emerald Buddha as well as the various pagodas and temples within the palace grounds.
The most amazing part of our tour of the Grand Palace took place when one of the Chulalongkorn University student’s father joined our group. He was a high ranking official at the Grand Palace and was able to take us inside the Phra Thinang Chakri Maha Prasat, which is the throne hall. He was unable to show us the throne itself, but showed us various items used in the coronation ceremonies including the nine-tiered royal umbrella which symbolized the king.
After we had lunch we ventured to Wat Pho and the reclining buddha. What was interesting in the reclining buddha was the 108 coin jars or prayer pots for offerings along the back wall. The 108 is a significant number referring to the 108 positive actions and symbols that helped lead Buddha to perfection. It is thought that if you drop 108 pennies, one into each pot, your wishes will be granted and will bring you good luck and a long life.
After the Grand Palace and Wat Pho we were supposed to take a ride on the Chao Praya river, but there were storms in the area so we decided to call it a day and head back to our hotel.