"Looking for peace is like looking for a turtle with a mustache: You won't be able to find it. But when your heart is ready, Peace will come looking for you."
King's Palace, Bangkok. Thailand was really the first place Rene and I donned the backpack. We were both blown away by the King's Palace with its glittering gold, glass mosaic statues, its Buddha's-fingernail-loving and solid-Jade-Buddha worshipping. The first trip was in 1999. This trip was 2006 and I still love the King's Palace in Bangkok as much as the first time.
I cracked a molar in Shanghai, walking down the street, biting into something hard and chewy one of the Chinese students had given me as a present one day. Further inspection at home showed me that had lost a major chunk of tooth, though I was lucky that the nerve hadn't been exposed.
I really really didn't want to have to get my tooth fixed in China- the hospitals were appalling enough, and the gory stories my coworkers told me usually ended with my head between my legs. Chinese New Year was coming, and though I had great plans to return to peaceful Bali, I headed to noisy loud Bangkok instead, to enjoy a lovely holiday of getting a root canal and doing a little yoga. Yeah, I know. I know how to have a smashingly good time!
King's Palace Buddha. I just have the urge to crawl up there and sit in his lap and let the world pass by.
Was it the best trip to Thailand? No. I was on my own and because of the multiple trips to the dentist, I couldn't leave Bangkok long enough to head south. Some people loathe Bangkok, but I love the grunginess of it, the smell of fish sauce and pad thai, the noise, the colour, the smell of rotting mangoes sprinkled with wafts of coconut, lemongrass and incense.
Love it big time. Love it long time.
I managed to squeeze in four days to Chiang Mai while the cap was being created, But other than that, the trip was highly uneventful. (other than the Burmese guy that worked for my hotel wrote me out all the words to Kaanta Laga by Dj Doll in Hindi, and I can now sing it!) This was also the fifth time I had been to Thailand (I'd gone often with my sister when we lived in Taiwan and passed through several times on the way to other parts of the world) So I admit I had a bit of a been there, done that kind of attitude.
Gold Leaf on the Boddhisatva. Rene and I tried to put gold leaf on the reclining Buddha once, but our sweaty sticky fingers didn't help much, and the gold leaf stuck all over us- so we ended up wiping our fingers on the Buddha. It didn't feel very devotional in the end.
In case any of you were wondering about the dentist- It was fantastic. It was clean and professional and cheap. It's now several years later and I still haven't had any problems with it. I had my metal fillings switched to porcelain, my teeth cleaned, my teeth whitened, and my root canal for 800 USD at Siam Family Dental Clinic. (Click here if you want more info.)
Here are a few of the pictures I took of Bangkok. Maybe not my best set of photos, but be easy on me! I was in the middle of getting a root canal!
Bangkok traffic from the overpass on the way to the dental clinic.
Bangkok cops. I read in the paper that there was a procession from one of the old Thai capitals- Sukhothai or Ayyutaya, that re-inacted a Buddha which floated down the river and landed in Bangkok. The people took it as a sign and built a big temple on the spot where the Buddha landed. I can't for the life of me, remember which old city, or which temple in Bangkok. But I happened to be on my way somewhere and I ran into the parade, which was pretty exciting!
Dancing on the temple grounds to welcome the Buddha statue home.
Chiang Mai, one of my favourite stops in Thailand.
I happened to be there during the flower festival, which, was incredible.This lady struck a pose for me in the Chiang Mai Flower Festival Parade.
The entire float was made of flowers. In fact, every float was made with flowers, carefully and perfectly placed in perfect unison all over these floats. Yes, I felt them and they were real. And soft, and fresh.
Offering dish. The Lotus is a symbolic flower, because it sinks into the mud at night and blooms every morning fresh and clean. No matter how dirty it gets on the outside, the inside always remains clean, just the way good people ought to be as well.