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Saturday, March 5, 2011

THE GRAND PALACE AND PEARL

One of Pearl's very favorite spots on Earth is the Grand Palace in Bangkok.  All the kings of Thailand lived here, except for the current one and Chulalongkorn.  Just to get your history correct, King Chulalongkorn is the son of King Mongkut, to the left, who was the depicted king in the King and I.  Does he look like Yul Brynner?  It was never explained why Mongkut got ill at the age of 63 and died, but, apparently, he became sick after viewing the solar eclipse of 1867.

I've never been much of a tourist, and it showed.  I thought I would catch the Sky Train from the Sheraton Grande to the stop at the Chao Phraya River next to the Shangri-La Hotel.  From there, I would then take the Orange Line Express Boat to the Grand Palace.  

So when I got to the river I boarded something that looked right, and waited a long time before it started, but only crossed the river.  Clearly I was in the wrong boat, so I had to pay double, about 20 cents, to go back.  I then went to the correct spot, but the line was so long that I for my stupidity qualified me to cut in line.  It takes some skill to do this.  I hear you could pay at the end of the trip, but, it turns out you need to  give about 75 cents to the lady with the noisy coin box.

Now, this water boat goes very fast and sprays water all around.  At one point a slug of water hit my face.  The Ala Wai Canal is pristine compared to the Chaya Phraya, so I suddenly got worried about contracting some terrible disease.  

No one seemed to be collecting the boat fee at arrival, so I saved some money.  I then walked to the entrance of the Grand Palace, and stood in a slow moving line for 15 minutes before I noticed that everyone in line were in shorts and slippers or the equivalent, and they were told to rent something to cover them.  Mistake #2.  

The entrance fee is about $11.  I mostly spent time looking for the ideal ash scattering site.  This was it:


The highlight of all this 100 building opulence is the Emerald Buddha.  Here is the photo I took a little more than a year ago.


It is disappointing, but the Emerald Buddha is not made of emerald, but green jade.

I took the same boat back and "forgot" to pay again.  Then on to Chatuchak Weekend Market:



 where I bought 8 pairs of socks and a device for $1.25 that apparently sews.  I previously bought a jogging pants, but need to shorten it.

For tonight, I haven't decided to have a McDonald's hamburger and beer, or try the fancy Kisso in the Westin Grande across the street.

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