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    Tropical Storm Tour: Thailand Part 3

    Saturday, June 6, 2015
    Bangkok, Thailand

    A wall mural on Thanon Ratchadamnoen Klang in Banglamphu, Bangkok, Thailand.
    A wall mural on Thanon Ratchadamnoen Klang in Banglamphu, Bangkok, Thailand.

    A wall mural on Thanon Ratchadamnoen Klang in Banglamphu, Bangkok, Thailand.
    A wall mural on Thanon Ratchadamnoen Klang in Banglamphu, Bangkok, Thailand.

    A wall mural on Thanon Ratchadamnoen Klang in Banglamphu, Bangkok, Thailand.
    A wall mural on Thanon Ratchadamnoen Klang in Banglamphu, Bangkok, Thailand.

    I woke up early this morning and headed to Wat Arun, one of Bangkok’s most amazing and best-known Buddhist temples, over in the Thonburi district on the western bank of the Chao Phraya river. In my previous trips to this city in 2010 and 2012, I only briefly passed by the outside of the temple and shot a couple of photos, so I wanted to make sure I got the full experience this time. After paying the totally reasonable 50 baht entry fee ($1.47), I spent a while climbing up and down the steep, tall stairs to a couple of different levels. Unfortunately, some of the spires were under renovation, and thus covered with scaffolding. But, even that could not diminish the grandeur of this sun-baked, porcelain-encrusted wonderland. Too bad the insanely steep stairs to the upper levels were closed. I’ll bet the view from up there is amazing.

    A wall mural on Thanon Ratchadamnoen Klang in Banglamphu, Bangkok, Thailand.
    A wall mural on Thanon Ratchadamnoen Klang in Banglamphu, Bangkok, Thailand.

    Yogurt and fruit for breakfast at May Kaidee's in Banglamphu, Bangkok, Thailand.
    Yogurt and fruit for breakfast at May Kaidee’s in Banglamphu, Bangkok, Thailand.

    Wat Arun covered with scaffolding in Thonburi, Bangok, Thailand.
    Wat Arun covered with scaffolding in Thonburi, Bangok, Thailand.

    “Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan, or Wat Arun for short (also known as the Temple of Dawn), derives its name from the Hindu god Aruna. Although the temple had existed since at least the 17th century, its distinctive prang (Khmer-style spires) were built in the early 19th century during the reign of King Rama II. The main feature of Wat Arun, the central prang are encrusted with seashells and bits of colorful porcelain which had previously been used as ballast by boats coming to Bangkok from China. Thanks to this unique building material, the first light of the morning reflects off the surface of the temple with pearly iridescence. The height of the central prong is reported by different sources to be between 219 and 282 feet. Wat Arun enshrined the Emerald Buddha image before it was transferred to Wat Phra Kaew across the river in 1785.”–Wikipedia

    Wat Arun in Thonburi, Bangok, Thailand.
    Wat Arun in Thonburi, Bangok, Thailand.

    Wat Arun in Thonburi, Bangok, Thailand.
    Wat Arun in Thonburi, Bangok, Thailand.

    Wat Arun in Thonburi, Bangok, Thailand.
    Wat Arun in Thonburi, Bangok, Thailand.

    In my past travels to Southeast Asia, I never bought any souvenir t-shirts because I didn’t want to lug them around–plus most of them look pretty cheesy or gaudy anyway. But, I decided to grab at least one from each country I visit on this trip, so when I noticed the souvenir stalls next to Wat Arun, I dove headfirst into the fray. Surprisingly, I located a simple, decent-looking t-shirt containing the word “Thailand” and a psychedelic elephant embroidered into the front for only 170 baht ($5.00). As I walked back toward Banglamphu in the scorching sun, I noticed a schoolgirl playing a traditional Thai instrument called a Phin that resembles an electric guitar, but with fewer strings. It sounded so good as she jammed along to a programmed beat, I bought one of her CDs. (She was collecting money for a scholarship.)

    A close-up of the porcelain at Wat Arun in Thonburi, Bangok, Thailand.
    A close-up of the porcelain at Wat Arun in Thonburi, Bangok, Thailand.

    A crowded ferry crossing on the Chao Phraya river at Wat Arun in Thonburi, Bangok, Thailand.
    A crowded ferry crossing on the Chao Phraya river at Wat Arun in Thonburi, Bangok, Thailand.

    A schoolgirl jams in Rattanokosin, Bangkok, Thailand.
    A schoolgirl jams in Rattanokosin, Bangkok, Thailand.

    Next, I stopped by a small shop to buy a tiny lock for a metal mesh net that wraps around my backpack so I can lock it up inside my room. (The lock that it came with went missing.) The very first time I went to lock it up, the lock literally fell apart into pieces. It only cost 50 baht, so I guess I got what I paid for. Why would someone even bother to manufacture something that shoddy? What’s the point? What about when locals buy locks from that shop? Does the shop not get a bunch of angry returns?

    You like Starbucks? Try Star Bung! Rattanokosin, Bangkok, Thailand.
    You like Starbucks? Try Star Bung! Rattanokosin, Bangkok, Thailand.

    A stickered-up pole in Rattanokosin, Bangkok, Thailand.
    A stickered-up pole in Rattanokosin, Bangkok, Thailand.

    Curry fried tofu and vegetables for lunch at May Kaidee's in Banglamphu, Bangkok, Thailand.
    Curry fried tofu and vegetables for lunch at May Kaidee’s in Banglamphu, Bangkok, Thailand.

    They also sell similar tiny locks at the front desk of the Nat 2 Guest House, but when I explained what had happened and asked if their locks also fall apart or if they’re better quality, they got all pissy and rude with me. Part of that was probably due to the language barrier, as they speak rudimentary English and I speak barely any Thai. I ended up buying one anyway, and the build quality does seem better. We’ll see how long this one takes to crumble. To close out the night, I schlepped over to the Phra Nakorn district to a restaurant called Pad Thai Thip Samai for a plate of–you guessed it–Pad Thai. It was good, but not as yummy as May Kaidee’s. Plus, there was a really long line snaking around out front. But since the restaurant employed a small army, the wait time was really short.

    The Thailand t-shirt I bought at Wat Arun in Thonburi, Bangok, Thailand.
    The Thailand t-shirt I bought at Wat Arun in Thonburi, Bangok, Thailand.

    Pad Thai Thip Samai in Phra Nakorn, Bangok, Thailand.
    Pad Thai Thip Samai in Phra Nakorn, Bangok, Thailand.

    A plate of Pad Thai at Pad Thai Thip Samai in Phra Nakorn, Bangok, Thailand.
    A plate of Pad Thai at Pad Thai Thip Samai in Phra Nakorn, Bangok, Thailand.

    Words and photos ©2015 Arcane Candy.

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