Thailand Diaries : Chapter 3
We were going to bid adieu to Pattaya early in the morning itself. Our drive to Bangkok was going to take around 3 hours. Zavi decided he wanted some play time at our hotel at Pattaya and it was pretty much difficult to bring him along. As our driver grew impatient, we literally pulled him along and started our journey back to Bangkok. Luckily Zavi slept off as soon as the ride started and all of us rested well throughout the journey.
Our morning was going to be Temple Visits. Our day was planned out in such a way that we could visit the renowned Temple of Golden Reclining Buddha or famously known as Wat Pho and the Marble Temple ( Wat Benchamabophit ).
Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand, was typical. The hustle and bustle, the traffic and the typical city rabble. As we slowly moved into the heart of the city, our guide hopped into our vehicle quite unexpectedly. She was a middle aged lady and was really cordial. She informed us that we were first proceeding to the Temple of the Reclining Buddha or rather Wat Pho. Our vehicle stopped outside the intricately designed entrance, and all of us slowly trooped behind our guide. At the entrance, she paid the entrance fee and like any temple we were instructed to remove our shoes before entering the temple. She also told us that she would wait right outside the complex. What waited for us inside was something marvellous. As we made our way through the small door, at first it was difficult to comprehend what it was. And then I realized, there lying in front of me was the magnificent Reclining Buddha. It was huge and I later read around that it was around 151 feet long. The statue was a treat to our eyes but at the same time, one has to acknowledge the fact this place was primarily a place of worship and the place did exude a certain calmness. Along the length of the Reclining Buddha, small bronze pots were placed. We understood that if we wished, we could buy a bulk of coins from outside and put the coins in these pots as we walked along the length of the hall. This was believed to be done for good luck. The feet of the Reclining Buddha are adorned with auspicious symbols.
As we headed towards the exit door, we spotted our guide waiting for us with bottled water. She informed us that we could take a walk around the temple complex and get back to the vehicle in some time. As we marvelled at the architectural beauty of the place, our Zavi was too small to appreciate this beauty, the only thing that interested him here were the fish in small man made ponds. After a few clicks here and there, we were back in our vehicle with our guide. Our next destination was The Marble Temple, known as Wat Benchamabophit. As we proceeded to the Marble Temple, we passed through the main palace roads which had very beautiful ornate street lights. Our guide informed us that the buildings on either side of this road were all official government buildings. As we pulled up at the parking lot in front of The Marble Temple, the sky started to turn a little dark and it seemed like it would rain soon.
Nevertheless, we walked through the main gate and what caught my attention first were impressive lions in white marble. We then made our way to the Main Temple Complex. Inside, we saw a serene Buddha in a seated position. Just outside this complex was an open space with a collection of statues of Buddhas in various postures. There were also bells on all four sides of this open space. All the people were walking in a line and ringing the bells. Even we joined in, and the sound of the ringing bells were a treat to the ears. It started drizzling slowly, this was enough to set us off in a frenzy as we didnt want Zavi getting wet and then maybe sick. We made a dash for our vehicle.
Although there are numerous temples in Bangkok, we limited our visit to Wat Pho and the Marble Temple , due to time constraints. By afternoon we checked in at our hotel in Bangkok. We were in for a surprise here, as our rooms were upgraded to Suite Rooms. We totally didn't expect this, and seriously we were like excited little children. The room was vast with more than enough space to run around and play. We were scheduled to witness the famed Siam Niramit show in the evening. We were totally looking forward to the Siam Niramit show as we had heard from a lot of people who had visited Thailand earlier that this was a must see show.
The Siam Niramit Show
We were picked up from our hotel at around 4:30 pm and within half an hour we were dropped off at the entrance. Here, there were a couple of artists dressed in traditional Thai wear to welcome us and they directed us straight to the huge Banquet Hall. There was a complimentary dinner with the show. The Banquet Hall offered a wide variety of dishes for guests from around the world, including Thai delicacies. As none of us were really hungry, we just nibbled and proceeded towards the traditional Thai village set up.
We made our way to the open area, and there stood a very cute baby elephant inviting people inside. Zavi was super excited seeing the baby elephant and wanted to go closer and touch it, but he was too scared. Soon a troop of dancers filled the open space and started dancing to Traditional Thai music. As the dance performance continued, we made our way to the village. Here they were actually showcasing the authentic Thai way of life. There were small huts and also people going about their business, just like it was their homes. An old lady even offered us some Thai snacks that she was making. We could explore their homes. There was also a small rivulet running through and people could be seen moving about in small boats. When we reached back at the open area, the dance performance had reached an infectious tempo and most of the audience had also joined in and the performance came to a thundering halt.
The doors to the amphitheatre were thrown open by then, the crowd began to queue up and we slowly moved in and took our seats. Soon the lights dimmed and we were shown slides to keep our mobiles in silent and to refrain from taking any videos or photos of the show. Next was a slide with an introduction to the show. The show was divided into three three portions :
- Journey Back into History
- Journey Beyond Imagination
- Journey Through Joyous Festivals
Although it would be difficult to replicate the mesmerizing show in words, I am going to try my best, seriously, no words can describe the spectacular show.
Journey Back into History
The show began with a flashback to the rich historical heritage of Thailand. It showed their empires and had lavishly grand sets of a kingdom. To show off the pompousness of the kingdom even an elephant made an appearance. Different cultural settings were showcases including different types of cultural dances like the famous finger nail dancers and bamboo dancers.
Journey Beyond Imagination
This segment showcased the Three Worlds. The segment began with the 'Fiery Hell'. The background turned a fiery red colour and the cursed were subjected to different levels of torture. Some were being pushed into the hot oil while some were being punished severely at hell. This segment slowly transcended to the 'Mystical Himmapaan'. The Thai Buddists believe that to reach heaven, one must be meritorious in their lives on earth. This segment was truly magical with its dance and music. The final segment was a magical recreation of the 'Blissful Heaven'. The artists were not only dancing on the stage but were also flying across gracefully. The whole aesthetic sense was beautiful and blissful.
Journey Through Joyous Festivals
The festivities begin from within the crowd itself. The artists emerged from all around us. It felt like even we were part of the festivities. The festive joy picked up a feverish tempo with all the drums and dancing and the programme came to a thumping end.
As the lights were turned on, we sat for a few more minutes relieving the magnificent visual treat that we had just witnessed. Sometime in between the show, my little Zavi slept off peacefully. We returned to our hotel and retired for the day.
If you have not read our previous Thailand blogs then do read it to catch up with our experience until now.
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We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone.