Saturday, March 26, 2011

What? The Wat is Closed?

A wat is a monastery temple and if you believed the people in Bangkok around the National Palace you'd think they were constantly closed for "special" ceremonies.  Well, at least until 1pm or is it 12:30? Or was it noon? No matter what the time, it's always the same, "They are closed and you shouldn't bother seeing them, so come with me instead and I'll bring you back when they are open!"  The problem is that even with the warnings you eventually start to think there might be something to this story.

On Thursday morning Malena headed home and my mom arrived.  Due to a delayed flight, Mom literally met us on the stairs as I was walking Malena out.  (She came through Tokyo and when her flight was delayed they sent her to a different airport by bus - her hair may have been glowing with the radioactivity when she arrived.)

After Malena left and Mom was settled, we hit up three wats and the grand palace.  We were warned by Malena, who had already seen these sites that people would try to tell us they were closed.  I was also warned by other travelers I've come across, by friends (some even commented on this blog), and it even warns tourists about it in our I thought we were prepared.  I was wrong.

They are so believable and friendly, one guy spent five minutes telling us about how to pray to the Buddha for good luck and fortune.  He showed us photos of his kids and his wife and told us how much he liked Chicago.  Then as my feet were itching to get away, he dropped the information about how all the buildings but one were closed in the Grand Palace until 1pm.  He was so convincing that it was hard to walk away...until he offered to tour us around in a tuk tuk.  RUN!!!  Unfortunately in our haste to get away, we missed the main entrance and walked the entire way around the complex before getting back to it...leaving us wide open and easy prey for other vultures. 

By the time we made it to within 50 meters of the actual entrance we had already had conversations with two people and waved off another three.  The final straw was when a guy who appeared to be unrelated to a company told us again that it was closed until 1p and that we should buy tickets at a different gate first.
Well, mom's will (who I can only assume was tired and less jaded) was starting to falter.  We had a small discussion about whether or not these facts were actually true.  After all, you don't want to go into a complex where you can only see one building and pay the same price.  Fortunately, I'm hardened and skeptical so we forged on...and amazingly found everything to be perfectly open.  (Of course, after we got into the gate people were asking us if we needed a tour guide - we just couldn't escape it).

After it was all said and done, we saw the Grand Palace, the Emerald Buddha, Wat Po (which is a HUGE reclining Buddha), and Wat Arun (the Temple of the Dawn).  It was a long day (particularly when you feel like you've been put through a spin cycle), but mom held out well considering she was working on very little sleep, and we eventually made it back to the hostel.

I write this as we travel north to Chiang Mai on another night train.  The last train offered very little sleep as I nervously laid rigid in my bed after seeing too many cockroaches running around when we got on the train.  Tonight, my bed is comfortable and seemingly visitor free so I have Double Stuf Oreos, and James Bond movies (all of which are on my computer) to look forward to.

The Grand Palace Complex

Wat Po, the reclining Buddha

Wat Arun, The Temple of the Dawn

1 comment:

  1. Tell your mom Hi for me....Lori