This is my next to last day in Thailand and I wanted to visit the Grand Palace in Bangkok. What a “cluster . . . ” I have never seen so many tourists in one place. Add heat and humidity, I was miserable (I am certain everyone else was too). I took the public boat “bus” from Pier 3, near my Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel and journeyed down the Chao Phraya river with a gazillion other tourists. I was wondering (almost out loud), “HEY, CAN WE FIT MORE SARDINES . . . UHH, PASSENGERS ON THIS DEATH TRAP WAITING TO HAPPEN?” How lovely. Everyone was “ripe” by the time we reached our destination at Pier 9. But wait, there’s more . . . To access the Grand Palace, you have to first walk through this food stand market, where the nauseous food smells combined with the heat/humidity to make me almost throw up. Sorry, for the graphic description, but I call them how I see them. Admittedly, I should have eaten breakfast, but I decided not to. My empty stomach certainly didn’t help me combat the nauseousness I was feeling. I probably should have read TripAdvisor or some other review site, where I would have known what to expect. My bad.
Once you exit the food stands, then you have to run the gauntlet of buses, tuk tuks, and cars to cross the street to where the Grand Palace is. No, there are no traffic lights. Almost like musical chairs, except if you don’t get across the street (i.e., “find a chair”), you get flattened by a vehicle. Ha!
There were literally thousands of tourists lined up waiting to enter the Palace grounds. Almost like a conga dance line that stretched into infinity. Eventually, I entered the grounds and found a tree where I could rest a bit and get my 2nd wind. I also reapplied sunscreen to my noggin and arms. The line was horrendous, but it looked like I was close to the Palace gates, where you actually could observe the numerous complex of buildings that comprise the Grand Palace. Wrong.
There was one line for tickets at 500 baht per person and then after purchasing your ducat, you waited in another line (above). I asked myself, “Do I really want to go in and see this?” I know you’re thinking, “Stop being a cry baby and get the frickin’ ticket.” However, besides talking to myself – usually a clear red flag that someone is delusional (HEHEHE), I was still feeling queasy. In short, my answer to myself was a definitive NO . . . I would take pictures from outside the gate and then make a retreat back to some place with air conditioning.
Construction of the Grand Palace was begun in 1782 by King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke (Rama I), founder of the Chakri dynasty. Since then, numerous buildings, temples and other structures have been added on to the complex. It’s my understanding that the King, his court, and Royal government lived and worked here until 1925.
Per Wikipedia, “Throughout the period of absolute monarchy, from 1782 to 1932, the Grand Palace was both the country’s administrative and religious center. As the main residence of the monarch, the palace was also the seat of government, with thousands of inhabitants including guardsmen, servants, concubines, princesses, ministers and courtiers. The palace’s high whitewashed castellated walls, full of forts and guard posts, mirrored those of the walls of Bangkok itself, and thus the Grand Palace was envisioned as a city within a city. For this reason a special set of Palace Laws were created to govern the inhabitants and to establish hierarchy and order. By the 1920′s a series of new palaces were constructed elsewhere for the king’s use; these included the more modern Dusit Palace, constructed in 1903, and Phaya Thai Palace in 1909. These other Bangkok residences began to replace the Grand Palace as the primary place of residence of the monarch and his court. By 1925 this gradual move out of the palace was complete.”
Since then, the Palace complex is used only for official functions. That boys and girls is the extent of my knowledge about this place.
Tomorrow, I leave for a short stay in Kuala Lumpur, then I am off to Kathmandu, Nepal. Until then . . .