“The temple is closed today, the King is coming to visit.” How many other people have heard this line in Bangkok? Tutk tuk drivers use it to dissuade gullible tourists from going to the large tourist sights, and instead take them on a cross-city jaunt. And that’s the way it was for us as well, as we took the day to sightsee the old city in Bangkok, stroll through the Grand Palace and several temples. As soon as we arrived in the centre of town this friendly seeming gentleman came to give us “handy hints”, but didn’t seem particularly flustered when we politely thanked him and then walked away in the other direction.
Ironically, when we later visited the temple it became obvious that there was an official ceremony being held that day, and Thais of all ages were gathering. Most impressive was the long red carpet that had been rolled out, and the people in military uniforms who purposefully walked around the buildings pointing and gesturing with walkie-talkies.
Our photos focused on the geometry of the roofs and spires, architectural differences that set Thailand apart from our recent visits to Indonesia and Vietnam. I was also fascinated by the murals in the Grand Palace, the ‘giants’ that guarded the Wat Pho temple and the small Emerald Buddha in a room full of people, surrounded by offerings.