Taking Bangkok’s public transport to Wat Pho and Wat Arun

Following my fiasco of an attempt to get to Wat Pho, I decided to do some research and try to get there again. You can read about what I went through last time, if you want a chuckle, in my post HERE.

As you can see from the photo above, this trip includes a boat ride. So if you get seasick, take your motion sickness meds. I get motion sickness quite easily and I didn’t take any meds for this ferry ride (I didn’t have any and was too lazy to buy from the pharmacy). Luckily, the actual ride itself was ok, roughly 30 min. The boat goes fast enough that I didn’t feel sick. It’s only when the ferry is idling (waiting for for embarking/disembarking and waiting for boat traffic to clear when leaving/arriving at the piers) that I felt queasy.

I started this journey on the Sukhumvit Line (light green BTS line), making my way to Siam BTS station. Alight at this station and switch to the Silom line (dark green line) where you’ll be heading towards Bang Wa Station BUT alighting at Saphan Tak Sin station. The direct way is to go down the escalators to the platform with the train going the correct way. However, I found that the easiest (less crowded) way is to walk directly across the platform and take the train to National Stadium (it’s on the Silom Line). This will take you in the opposite direction to where you’re supposed to be heading BUT it’s only 1 stop away and the train terminates there. Just change trains and you’ll be headed in the correct directions, without having to mess with the crowds at Siam Station (which is almost always crowded) plus most likely you’ll get a seat for this roughly 6 station ride. Up to you which way you wanna take, I can’t wholeheartedly tell you which way is better because the crowds can differ greatly at both stations depending on the day of the week and time of day.

Alight at Saphan Tak Sin and follow the signs that lead you to the Chaophraya express boats. At exit 2, the pier is about 2 minutes walk from the station. You can pretty much see it once you get out of the station at  exit 2.

Once you reach the signage below, you’ll have to make a choice.

Here’s the differences:

“Ferry Boat” costs $100 Baht per person and that’s where most people will go because they’re unfamiliar with the other two options. Like us, we just followed the crowd, lol. These boats are slimmer than the express boats, carry less people and seated space only (as opposed to the larger ferries that may have standing room and some are bicycle friendly). These ferries have life jackets for you to wear as well (I didn’t notice anyone on the other ferries wearing life jackets but that doesn’t mean they’re not available. I just couldn’t see any). Luckily for us, the crowd all got into the previous boat, leaving us with a boat almost entirely to ourselves!

“chaopraya express Boat” may cost as little as $15 Baht depending on what color flag the boat is flying. Not all boats operate on the same days or even time/frequency, which accounts for the differences in price.

” chaopraya express Tourist Boat” costs around $40 Baht but has an English speaker on board to talk about stuff as you pass them. Next time I’ll take my seasick meds and take this boat,  it sounds more interesting.

There are little kiosks with an attendant at which you’ll pay your fare, if not you’ll have to pay as you get on the boat (less ideal option but if you know roughly how much your ride should be, you’d be fine, I guess). Some boats have an all day pass too, if you’re planning on taking the ferry multiple times. There’s very little splash so you don’t have to worry about getting wet. If it’s raining however…I can’t say as I didn’t notice any rain covers (but that could just be me not paying attention).

The pier names are a bit weird, some have numbers, some don’t. Wat Arun pier is called just that, “Wat Arun Pier” (no number). Wat Pho’s pier is number N8 and named “Tha Tien Pier.” N stands for North. The numbered piers are the older ones and the newer ones are the ones without numbers.

For Wat Pho, alight at Tha Tien Pier (N8) and walk towards the end of the alley. Once you reach the end, turn left and keep walking until you reach Wat Pho. You can’t miss it.

If you don’t go into Wat Pho but keep walking instead, the street ends and you can turn left here. Head down this alley and you’ll get to the pier that’ll take you to Wat Arun for a fee of $4 Baht. It’s a short trip, almost exactly on the opposite side of the river from Wat Pho.

When you alight at Wat Arun Pier, you’re basically on the premises already. Find the ticket booth and pay the $50 Baht entrance fee.

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Crackdown on Thai amulets and Buddha themed items in Thailand?

Over the past couple years, I’ve been to Thailand multiple times, I love the culture and the relatively inexpensive yet high quality dentistry (I posted about my dental experience HERE). It is only this most recent trip (to Bangkok) that I’ve noticed the signage regarding the “respecting of Buddhism”. The various signage that I’ve seen, seem to indicate that having the Buddha image as tattoos, t-shirts designs and such are prohibited as is the export of such items. At first, I didn’t know what to expect, as in how this is actually going to be enforced because I’m still seeing t-shirts, carvings, statues, artwork etc depicting Buddha in the shops albeit not as abundantly as before. Note: I’m interpreting, “Buddha image” as anything depicting the likeliness of Buddha (in any form/medium).

Frankly, I didn’t think anything of it, even though I had my heart set on acquiring a Thai Buddhist amulet. I had asked some Thai friends where I could acquire an “authentic” amulet and was told amulets are readily available “everywhere”, there’s even a street specifically selling such items but they advised me to get one from within a temple, those should be authentic. This amulet market, I was told, is near Wat Pho and a ferry terminal, I couldn’t miss it. Well, I walked from the Grand Palace to Wat Pho and visited 2 ferry terminals, I couldn’t find this amulet market. Maybe most of the shops were close since it was raining? Or maybe the crackdown is really happening? The most probably reason why is because I’m just an idiot and couldn’t find it, lol.

Now what is the big deal with Thai Amulets? Well, supposedly they have spiritual powers (if you’re so inclined to subscribe to that notion and belief system). Authentic amulets are the ones that are hand made by monks and have been “enchanted” through prayer. The more famous the wat and monk, the higher the “power” and worth/price the amulet will be. Some amulets cost in the 100’s of thousand US dollars range! There are different amulets covering different aspects of “life issues”. For example, luck and or success in your career or school, love life charms, warding of bad spirits, omens, calamities etc. Much like the plethora of different charms sold at the Japanese temples (Shinto temples, I think they were). Unlike the Japanese charms, you don’t have to return/recycle them after a year (I’ve seen big drop boxes at these temples for you to drop your old charms into. Instead Thai amulets (again this is what I’ve been told so I don’t know exactly how accurate this info is) are given out on loan and the monetary amount you pay is the rental/donation fee. Once your “crisis” has been averted and/or you feel better, you’re supposed to return the amulet. When I acquired my pendant from Wat Pho (first image of this post), I didn’t see any signage regarding the “rental” practices and I tried to ask but the language barrier was to great I think. So I have no idea if this is true and if so where to return the amulet to. What happens if I lose the amulet etc.

This is the one I got from Wat Pho (I picked the least expensive one that I felt “comfortable” with, the charm inside is suppose to be 22k gold foil). I also bought the stainless steel necklace for the charm at $100 Baht the charm itself set me back $400 Baht. Expensive or not, in my mind, the dollar amount that I’m relinquishing goes towards something I subscribe to, at a place that’s absolutely stunning plus authentically religious with historic significance and it gives me peace of mind (it can’t get much more authentic than this, right)?

Anyways, sorry for the lack of photos in this post, I really didn’t intend to post on this topic. So why am I? Well, I’ve always had a Buddhist pendant on me since childhood, so I never thought twice about the “warning” signage and although I’m not a full fledged follower of Buddhism, I’m still a believer in most of the teachings that I’m aware of. So these signs don’t pertain to me, right? Well, apparently not.

I had forgotten I had my new amulet on (I put it on at the temple and haven’t taken it off). So at the at the airport security screening I place my bag on the xray machine and walked through the metal detector, which didn’t beep but the guard beckoned me over, so I assumed the position, legs spread and arms out to the side. The usual waving of the wand, then he waves it up and down just below my chin, I thought he wanted to see the tattoo on my chest (it’s happened before at LAX they made me take off my shirt so they can full body scan me). He shakes his wand from side to side and says, “no” (when I showed him my tattoo) and uses the wand to point at my neck. I think I gave him a funny look cuz then he starts wiggling and pointing the wand at my neck, it’s then I realize he wanted to see my necklaces/pendants. I reach into my t-shirt to pull out my necklaces/pendants for him to check out. Which he does by leaning in for a closer look and then waves me off with the wand. Much ado about nothing?

I have been wearing this one for at least 3 years.

And my new amulet’s casing is showing quite a bit of tarnish. Maybe I was let go because of the state my pendants were in? Maybe they look inexpensive/fake etc? I don’t know but I’m not complaining. Note: some amulets you can purchase without a case so you can find/purchase higher quality ones..

Having told my story to my Thai buddies, who had a big laugh, they related to me some instances in the news where some people were fined/jailed for having tattoo’s of a Buddha image, taking photos at religious places in “disrespectful” poses, standing/sitting on things that people normally wouldn’t etc. I have no idea what would have happened if the guard took offense to my amulet and pendant but it is something to think about, wouldn’t you agree?

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Free On-Air Classes – Week of 10/3

COME CHECK OUT THESE FREE ONLINE CLASSES !

Artistic render of SSGSS Vegitto

For all you creatives, out there if you haven’t heard of Creative Live, you may be missing out. I always browse their site for anything to do with photography (including the legal and business aspects as well as the heavier side of image editing) and sign up for whatever I find interesting. I’ve watched many free tutorials and classes and have made a few purchases as well after watching the free live stream. I’m of the opinion that Creative Live is a very valuable resource even if you only watch the free classes!The above image was something I cooked up in Photoshop after being inspired from watching a free class on Creative Live. Check Out CreativeLive’s Free On-Air Classes.

I’ve included classes in other genre’s just in case anyone is interested in them and If you really haven’t heard about Creative Live, here’s their sales pitch:

Start learning for free today with the amazing selection of live and on air classes from Creative Live. You will learn creative skills from the world’s top experts – Pulitzer Prize, Grammy, Oscar Winners, and New York Times best selling authors, thought leaders, and legendary entrepreneurs. With over 1,500 curated classes in Photography & Video, Money & Life, Craft & Maker, Art & Design, and Music & Audio, there is something for everyone. Students can watch on-air broadcasts for free or buy a class and own the content for life.

Plus, you can get your daily creative fix on the iOS app with 1 free lesson of you choice , each and every day!

Free On-Air Classes – Week of 10/3

Class Name: Pets and People Photography
Text Link: Pets and People Photography at CreativeLive
Start Date: 10/13/2019
End Date: 10/14/2019
RSVP Date: 10/13/2019

Class Name: Action Sport Photography with Red Bull Photographer Corey Rich
Text Link: Action Sport Photography with Red Bull Photographer Corey Rich at CreativeLive
Start Date: 10/14/2019
End Date: 10/15/2019
RSVP Date: 10/14/2019

Class Name: How to Break the Habit of Self-Doubt and Build Real Confidence
Text Link: How to Break the Habit of Self-Doubt and Build Real Confidence Mel Robbins at CreativeLive
Start Date: 10/15/2019
End Date: 10/16/2019
RSVP Date: 10/15/2019

Class Name: Recycle Your Art
Text Link: Recycle Your Art at CreativeLive
Start Date: 10/16/2019
End Date: 10/17/2019
RSVP Date: 10/16/2019

Class Name: Creating Cinemagraphs with Photoshop and After Effects
Text Link: Creating Cinemagraphs with Photoshop and After Effects at CreativeLive
Start Date: 10/17/2019
End Date: 10/18/2019
RSVP Date: 10/17/2019

Class Name: GearGods Presents: Mastering Metal Mixing: Prep & Setup
Text Link: GearGods Presents: Mastering Metal Mixing: Prep & Setup at CreativeLive
Start Date: 10/18/2019
End Date: 10/19/2019
RSVP Date: 10/18/2019

Happy Learning, y’all ! ! !

FULL DISCLOSURE: Please note that the course/class links have my affiliate code in them and should you choose to purchase a class, I may get a referral fee. The links only direct you to the page where you can watch the course FOR FREE on the stated date(s).

Consider following me for updates to find not only my other travel bloopers, blunders and shenanigans but also photography related news/reviews and the occasional contest entry.

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Visiting Wat Pho, a top ranked royal temple.

I finally made it to Wat Pho! Although I took a huge detour (which was worth it), I did make it before they closed. If you want read about my “forced” detour to the Grand Palace/Wat Phra Kaew complex it’s in THIS POST, and how I ended up there is detailed in THIS POST. Anyways, back to the subject at hand . . .

Wat Pho is one of the oldest and largest wat complexes in Bangkok (it’s actually comprised of 2 walled compounds dissected by a road). One of the buildings houses one of the largest Reclining Buddha statues in Thailand. Wat Pho is also recognized by UNESCO, has chedi’s which contain Buddha relics and some that contain the ashes of the royal family. On top of all that, Wat Pho is recognized as the first public university in Thailand where the Thai Traditional Medical and Massage School was the first school of Thai medicine approved by the Education Ministry. If that’s not enough, Wat Pho still sells amulets within the temple grounds. I’m a huge fan of UNESCO recognized places and temples with Buddha Relics. If you’re so inclined to believe, it’s said that an amulet’s “power” comes from the temple and monk who made the amulet and the amount of prayer bestowed on the amulet. The higher the “power” of the monk and temple, the better the amulet will be. I’m not a scholar of these beliefs so if I can’t explain it well, my apologies. So to ensure I got an “authentic” amulet I chose Wat Pho’s “gift shop” as opposed to the shops on the streets or even right outside the temples. You’d be hard pressed to find a “better” temple in Bangkok than Wat Pho.

I’m so glad I was able to visit. When I first arrived at the entrance, the first thing I noticed was the line of tuk tuk’s parked on the street, then I noticed the street art vendors who had their goods out even in the drizzling rain. Goods which consisted of amulets, Buddha busts, statues, painting, posters, keychains etc. I thought that was a bit out of place since I’ve seen a lot of billboards trying to prevent the sale and export of such items. Anyways, I ignored the tuk tuk drivers’ touts and went straight into the Wat Pho Complex, found the easy to see ticket booth and paid my $200 Baht entrance fee, which came with a coupon for a free bottle of water. I didn’t immediately see where to redeem the water and stopped looking because I got distracted by the “gift shop” which was right at the ticket gantry a few steps away from the ticket booth. Just thought I’d mention this as there’s more than one entrance/exit. Right outside the gift shop, I think I saw the booth to redeem the water coupon but I got distracted by the entrance to the Reclining Buddha statue which is the main tourist attraction of Wat Pho.

 

The Reclining Buddha statue is by far the biggest reclining statue I’ve seen to date, measuring 150 feet (45m) long. Recline, in this sense context, is Buddha lying on his side with his head propped on one arm. The statue is surrounded by a wooden picket fence that’s far enough away to prevent even the tallest basketball player to reach out and touch the statue (yeah, I have no idea how far away the fence is from the statue) except the feet because the building isn’t long enough. Along the front side, there are little sections for prayer and some sections for viewing/picture taking between the pillars. Along the back are some other artifacts as well as some prayer bowls (a whole row of 108 of them) that you can toss coins into while praying/chanting. You can donate $20 Baht for a plate of coins to drop into the prayer bowls. I don’t know how many coins I was given but I had more than enough coins to put 2 in each bowl. I was fortunate that it wasn’t that crowded when I was there but there was enough people around which made getting pictures a bit of a challenge (plus the pillars were in the way a lot). I can’t imagine how packed it would be if a tour group or two came through, well I can and it’s not pleasant, haha.

I didn’t expect the complex to be as big as it was. I thought it was just he usual chedi, main hall, ubusot type of complex. Yes, I was wrong, there’s a lot more to see. I exit one area only to find myself at the start of another interesting area. I wouldn’t say I got lost but it just seemed like I maze where everywhere I went was something cool to look at or a place where I felt an image to be made, I just had to stop and find it. Unfortunately for me, time was what I didn’t have that day. I’m pretty sure I didn’t get to see 1/2 of the complex, by that I mean literally see it and not “seeing” it creatively. Although I wasn’t rushed by anyone, the closing of gates and such pushed a sense of urgency to find an exit, plus I had no exit strategy to get to my dinner appointment, which I ended up being almost 2 hours late for (transportation issues posted HERE if you wanna read about it, lol). I’m really wanting to go back in the evening just before closing, on a nice day to catch the sunset light on the chedi’s, I bet that would be an amazing picture.

Consider following me for updates and to find not only my other travel bloopers, blunders and shenanigans but also photography related news/reviews and the occasional contest entry.

All the photos (unless otherwise noted in the post) were taken by me and are available for sale. If you’re interested in buying an image or three, 😃 please don’t hesitate to contact me for more details. Thanks in advance!

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Visiting to the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha

Ok so here I am at the entry point to the Grand Palace complex in Bangkok, Thailand. This was not my intended destination (HERE’s the post explaining how I got here) but since I’m here I reluctantly went in. I made my way through the crowds and found the ticket booths, paid my $500 Baht entrance fee and proceeded in. As you make your way through the gate, you’ll notice military guards/security in white uniforms, if you see these guys, you know you’re at the Grand Palace. Across the street there are armed military/security guards as well but those guys are dressed in green uniforms and guarding the Ministry of Defense compound. The palace guards are also there to help enforce the dress code policy as well. If you’re prohibited from entering due to your garments (foot wear included) then you can just go across the street where there are a bunch of shops selling clothes, food, souvenirs etc.

The knowledge I had of this “must see tourist stop” was limited to it being a palace with a wat on the grounds in which the revered Emerald Buddha is housed. It is also fairly close to my original destination, Wat Pho. Anyways, what I had wished I had known prior to coming here was:

1) The size of the complex because it is HUGE and I would have needed the whole day here (keep in mind that I linger and take lots of photos and the buildings are that that close together)
2) The ticket actually includes entrance to “Arts of the Kingdom” museum AND a performance entitled “Thai Masked Dance” ( available Mon. to Fri.)
3) Different buildings have different closing times so plan accordingly.

It was on my way out, literally at the exit, when I saw the sign for the traditional dance show. I looked at my ticket and that’s when I noticed the peel off portions for entrance to the show AND a museum. I couldn’t find any signage on where to go or wait (for a bus/shuttle) to get to the show and then I remember passing a museum while rushing around within the Grand Palace portion of the complex, so I opted to check that out, since I didn’t have time to catch the show anyways. When I made my way back to that museum (Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles), it was closed but just as well, because that’s not the Museum for which the ticket was for.

Between the entrance to attractions and the ticket booths there are a lot of locals offering their “guide” services. I declined without asking how much their services were because as usual, I was in a rush and besides, I had a free map from the ticket booth, how hard could it be right? Well, in hindsight, if I had more time and the price was agreeable, I wouldn’t have minded a “guide” because I overheard some partial stories and details from some of the guides that sounded pretty interesting plus I didn’t notice any signage anywhere inside making it hard to get a bearing and read the map.

Just a few steps in from the ticket gantry, I found myself within the grounds of Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha). Awesome, I love historic, religious places! The only building that you can actually enter is the ubusot in which the Emerald Buddha is displayed. The Emerald Buddha Statue is said to be centuries old and legend has it, was found covered in plaster or stucco of some sort, after a lightning strike on a Chedi in Chiang Rai. It was only after the attending abbot noticed the flaking off of the plaster that the statue was made from an entirely different substance. Although it’s called the Emerald Buddha, it’s not an emerald but green like one. It’s actually jade. The attire of the Emerald Buddha is changed by the King of Thailand (or anotther relative in his stead) when the season changes, in a special ceremony. The Emerald Buddha has quite an interesting history if you’re into this sort of stuff.

Aside from the main attraction (being the Emerald Buddha statue}, I found the murals on the outer walls on some of the buildings really spectacular as was the scale model of Angkor Wat. All the structures on the premises are, as you would expect, intricately decorated in the Thai Buddhism art style and in great condition. Despite the mobs of people, the premises is really clean, you wouldn’t think twice about the cleanliness of the floor before taking off your shoes to enter the ubusot to view the Emerald Buddha. The premises, buildings and artwork are so well taken care of and upkept (renovated, rebuilt etc), you’d probably never guess that original construction began centuries ago.

After checking out Wat Phra Kaew, I managed to find a “History of the Grand Palace” Museum which was free to enter. I found it really interesting to see some of the original pieces of architecture used throughout the years as well as photos and other objects that have been saved. If it wasn’t for the rain, I may have rushed right by, lol.

The Grand Palace and the surrounding architecture looked, well, grand! Very nice to look at even in the rain. The military guards looked professional and imposing which I think added to the ambience. I didn’t get around to exploring this area much because out of the blue, there was a loud thunder clap followed by immediate screaming because (just behind me) it started to rain, HARD! Before I could stop laughing at the hordes of people scrambling for shelter (there wasn’t any close by) to get out my umbrella, I got caught in the rain too. It was shockingly quick!

Although I was kinda bitter at the start of this excursion because the Grand Palace/Wat Phra Kaew was not where I wanted to go. Plus the $500 Baht entrance fee I felt was a bit steep compared to all the other places I’ve visited but after I was done in the complex, I didn’t feel bitter at all, only regret that I didn’t have more time to properly see it all. The live show and the museum would just be a bonus. I don’t know if the museum or show is any good but I’m willing to bet they are, but that’s just me, I love history and cultural stuff.

Some things to note, photography is allowed within the complex but not inside Wat Phra Kaew. Smoking and consumption of alcohol is not only prohibited within the complex but also on the street surrounding the complex (at least that’s how I understand it). There are signs here and there but not all over the place. So be warned if you’re a smoker. Dress code is more strictly enforced here than anywhere else I’ve been to.

 

Consider following me for updates and to find not only my other travel bloopers, blunders and shenanigans but also photography related news/reviews and the occasional contest entry.

All the photos (unless otherwise noted in the post) were taken by me and are available for sale. If you’re interested in buying an image or three, 😃 please don’t hesitate to contact me for more details. Thanks in advance!

Comments & Critiques are always welcome, as are upvotes and resteems.

Thanks for viewing and best wishes!

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