May 29, 2017
Today we went to Saint Dominics’s school and visited the Grand Palace and the Reclining Buddha.
The visit at Saint Dominic’s school was such a blast. I had to give a short speech and I must say I did very well in front of the large crowd. After we had our greetings, we went into a classroom and they performed traditional Thai dances for us! It was so awesome seeing these students perform the dances of their country and they were so good at it! After the show, we met with the boys and spent a few hours getting to know them. They had so many questions for us and we had many as well. Some of them had perfectly good english and others really struggled but we still managed to carry on conversations with the students. When I asked one student what he wanted to be when he grew up he responded, a good man, and its answers like that, that give me hope for this world.
After we visited the school we went to the Grand Palace and Reclining Buddha. I didn’t know much about these before going to Thailand so I had to do some research on the two.
After the death of King Bhumibol, access to The Grand Palace and The Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok was restricted. However, since 1st November 2016, the doors were once again opened for foreign tourists. Although it’s not compulsory for you to wear black clothes, you are asked to dress respectfully and to wear muted colours or a black ribbon.
When we were entering the Grand Palace 4 of us got stopped and were asked to buy a new shirt. I had a scarf wrapped around my shoulders but apparently you have to have a real shirt on and not a wrap. We had to go into this store and buy a shirt and the lady inside the store was not very nice!! After we got the shirts we entered into this beautiful space of temples and buildings that were nothing like I had seen before. It was absolutely breathtaking.
The Grand Palace is home to the Emerald Buddha. I learned that only Thai’s are allowed to go in and bow down and pray to the Buddha. Foreigners, have to take off their shoes and stay at a distance to pay our respects and say any wishes we have at the time.
The Grand Palace ticket also includes entrance to Bang Pa In Palace, Sanam Chandra Palace, & Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall which were all very breathtaking views. They were all covered in jewels and gold and were beautifully painted. The pictures don’t do it justice.
About halfway through it started DOWNPOURING! and I really mean it. Thai’s don’t like the rain but we didn’t really mind it. It was a nice break from being hot and sweaty all the time. We toughed out the rain and went to the reclining buddha. By the time we got there we were sopping wet and all looked like a complete mess but hey, its the experience right?
After the downpour at the Grand Palace we went to the inside part and saw the Reclining Buddha. You made a small donation and they gave you a dish of coins. With the coins, you drop them into the bowls surrounding him and saw a wish in every single one of them. Since there were about 50 bowls, it took us all a very long time to get around to each of them.
After we decided to head back to the hotel was when the real adventure started. A few of us had gotten separated from the rest and it was quite the adventure getting home. We ended up being on the wrong side of the river and we had to get on a water taxi to cross the river. After we got to the right side of the river we had to wait for the speedy water taxi to take us back into Bangkok. Once we got on the speedy water taxi it was about 15 minutes before we got into town. We then figured out we had to take the sky train through the heart of the city and then get on the metro back to the hotel. What should have been a 20 minute taxi ride turned into a 2 hour adventure around the city, WITHOUT WIFI. It was quite challenging but hey, we made it back safe somehow!
The rest of the night was followed by dinner and relaxing. Many of us were tired from the day we had had, especially the ones that were running around the city of Bangkok for hours!
Although we had quite the experience, I wouldn’t change the day I had for the world. This is the best part about traveling, the parts you don’t have planned.