The Grand (an understatement) Palace

The day we went to the Grand Palace was exceptionally beautiful, complete with a cloudless cerulean sky.  Although I know no different way of seeing them, I would imagine with just how ornate these 100 or so buildings are, and the way the gilded and decorated temples glistened in the sun, this is exactly the type of day one should see them.

The Grand Palace

Loyola at The Grand Palace entrance

Long ago, the palace was the residence of the Thai monarchy. The incredibly fantastical buildings within the palace walls date back 200 years when they were the official residence of the Kings of Siam. The current King, Rama IX, lives at the nearby Chitralada Palace, I imagine to avoid the million or so tourists that come through here every year.

OK, where are we going?

Rama IX is 85 years old, has been the king of Thailand for the last 65 years, and is highly revered by the Thai people.

Artistically surreal

As seen in the pictures, there are many historic buildings within the walls of the palace. The most famous is the Wat Phra Kaeo, otherwise known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. This tiny 26-inch seated Buddha is carved from a solid block of semi precious jade and guarded by ancient bronze lions. Sitting atop a golden throne, he presides over a small prayer room, where both Thai worshipers and tourists burn incense and pray. He currently wears his winter outfit, but also has outfits corresponding to the summer, and rainy seasons.

Pictures are only allowed outside the Temple of the Emerald Buddha - this is the best shot I could get

Several of my classmates and I took off our shoes and went in to say a prayer. Sadly, I didn’t get my moment of enlightenment, but I hope to be blessed with good karma!

Protective lions of the Emerald Buddha

The Grand Palace has a lot going on…beautiful flowers, gardens and koi ponds, Thais dipping lotus buds in water for luck, walls depicting Buddhist mythology and stories similar to those we heard in Cambodia…

Tuk explains some of the mythology told on these walls

The Grand Palace is not only the spiritual heart of the city, but is also an incredibly stunning place I would consider the quintessential stop for any visitor to Bangkok.

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