Saturday, March 15, 2008

Bangkok's Royal Palace: Nicer Than White House

The moment our cab driver bought us street food (fried bananas) through the window, we knew we were going to love it here. People are friendly, there’s tons of shopping, the palaces and temples are extremely beautiful and the exchange rate means you’ll be able to kick it in style. We hit the Grand Palace/Wat Phra Keo Complex first. With its zealous application of gild, mirror shards and mosaics on every possible surface these ornate 18th century buildings shimmered brighter than Harry Winston’s diamonds. Glittery spires shot up into the sky topped with ornate finials and the roofs fitted with wind chimes tinkled quietly in the breeze. We kneeled inside the temple in awe of the Emerald Buddha perched atop a gilded pedestal while devout Buddhists prayed and meditated silently on the floor.

Jonesing for some Thai food we popped into Sho Pratumtong, a 4-table local’s spot for some authentic Pad Thai and Ginger Chicken with Rice. Our entrees plus huge draft beers came to $12 – an amazing deal. Afterwards we strolled down the block to Wat Pho , Bangkok’s oldest and largest temple to see the Reclining Buddha, a 46 meter long gold plated structure whose feet are intricately inlaid with mother of pearl. Since we only had a few hours left we did some shopping across town, but my discovery of the day was the Jim Thompson Thai Silk Store. The men and women’s accessories, home furnishings and clothing here is reminiscent of an Asian inspired Michael Kors collection and although not cheap, certainly costs less than it would back home - certainly worth a stop if you're in Bangkok although they also have satellite stores around the world.

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