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Bangkok, the Temple City and my Spiritual Tour
I was born into a Christian family in Poland. When my brother and I were kids, our parents used to take us to church twice a month, but as time passed our church activities summarized to a few times a year. In 2003 my mom had a car accident and she had one very dangerous surgery. During the surgery I kind of becoming lost, so I went out to the nearest church. For the 3 hours I prayed to God for her health. That day was like my second birthday, because as soon as I got back to the hospital I found out that the surgery went well and my mother was alive.
From that day I started going to church more often and my appeals to God have multiplied. Lately I started to visit different countries and cities that are spiritually rich. For my peace of mind I decided to study God. I want to find out how different religions worship Him and how people talk to him.
One day I read about Bangkok being the most visited spiritual capital due to the vast amount of temples available. Big and small, there are more than 40,000 temples in Bangkok. This article is about my spiritual Bangkok day.
Reach Wat Saket by taxi
Take tuk tuk to reach Tha Tien Pier. At the pier, take Chao Phraya Express Boat to Wat Arun
Appreciate the splendor of Wat Arun
Take Chao Phraya Express Boat back to Tha Tien Pier and have my lunch there.
Feel the serenity at Wat Pho
Visit Wat Hua Lamphong, a temple worshipped by the locals
I took a taxi to Wat Saket from my hotel for only 100 baht. When I reached the place, I saw a huge golden miracle that dated since 1818. After paying 20 baht for the admission, the climb began. This unique Golden Mount is one of the most visited Buddhist temples in Bangkok and frankly speaking I was very impressed by its architecture, statues and serenity. On the way to “the mount”, there is a small temple that houses a four-faces buddha statue that is covered with gold foil.
My alpinist experience took 20 minutes, but the really nice view of the Old Siam City, its temples and ancient villages was priceless! Maybe it is the effect of the sarira or the temple’s welcoming atmosphere, the heavenly feeling of that temple will remain with me forever. Time was ticking away and I decided to move forward.
At 11am I caught a nice blue tuk tuk at the foot of the hill to get me to Tha Tien Pier. The entire 20 minutes tuk tuk journey that cost 120 baht was very nice. The driver spoke some English and I found out some new things about Thai national customs.
At 11.20am I took the Chao Phraya Express Boat for only 20 baht to Wat Arun. I was in Thailand a few weeks ago, but I am still wondering how taxi, boat and tuk tuk drivers manage to keep the journey prices so low. It is amazing, especially that their tariffs can be bargained.My 21 kilometers journey was very nice and interesting.
There was an English couple that told me some nice information about this express transportation. It operates since 1971 and serves both local and tourists. Locals from the Nonthaburi province travel daily to Bangkok to their job places. Those boats carry about 40 thousand passengers on a daily basis.
At 11.35am, I reached Wat Arun. Aruna is the Indian God of Dawn therefore this temple is also known as the Temple of Dawn. From the river that temple looked the most impressive, as I couldn’t see the scaffoldings (renovation work was in progress). While I climbed I saw a few monks climbing the steps to see the fantastic river and city views. The entrance fee was 30 baht, because I was a tourist. Entry for local people is free of charge. I saw the monk quarters and I rang the gong. That experience was something a bit different and I managed to make a wish while I was dealing with the gong.
Not too strict dress code policy was a nice and attractive move to catch more tourists. The coming down was a little bit treacherous as all the steps were steep.
In general that temple made my day. The grandeur of Wat Arun has the kind of universal power that will awe whoever visiting the temple and truly to say I am very impressed.
On the way to the river I bought 2 kg of fresh fish for the catfishes, as the river is full of them. At 12.35pm I took the Take Chao Phraya Express Boat back to Tha Tien Pier. The entire 15 minutes journey I had an unforgettable feeding experience. It’s obviously that catfishes are common for Thais, but for me these little sweet creatures are exotic and I had a huge pleasure to feed them!
At 12.50pm I reached the pier and decided to have my lunch. I wasn’t too hungry and I ordered only Pad Thai and cold lemon tee. I had chances to eat in fancy restaurants, but I assure you that the most delicious, fresh and cheap food is the street one! My dish was dry, light, fresh and yummy! The brownish color was amazing and shrimps were great! Lemon tee refreshed me and I moved forward.At 1.30pm I took a small walk to Grand Palace in order to rest my stomach, as my pad Thai portion was huge!
The palace was amazing and staggeringly beautiful. Golden Palace represents the Thai Royal culture, but I managed to have the wonderful feeling that I was really inside the ordinary Thai culture, because the Thailand culture began from Royals that spread it to ordinary people. I wanted to enter the temple and I had to remove my shoes. Its beauty was beyond description! The wall paintings and giant statues were like nothing I’ve ever seen.
At the exit, you’ll see tuk tuks and taxis queuing up for customers. Most of the taxi drivers do not use meter here so please make sure you haggle the price before you get in.
It was hard to view the entire Buddha at once but I could do if from his feet. I also liked the wall murals that detail the life of Buddha. It was also fun to drop some coins in tin bowls at the other side of the reclining Buddha statue.
It is nice and a little bit weird that they have a massage school in that temple. I had a nice and relaxing traditional Thai massage.
Before I went into the temple, I stopped by a Chinese temple called Yi De Tang located right beside Wat Hua Lamphong. In Yi De Tang, I had the chance to go through the whole process of accumulating merit by sponsoring coffins, and then praying through the 20 joss sticks in the altar hall next door. The coffins were for poor or homeless people who die alone.
In this place, it was a refreshing change to see more locals than tourists and it was less crowded. Near the entrance of Wat Hua Lamphong, there is a bull shed that allows the worshippers to donate money to redeem the lives of the bulls. I donated their food money and got the chance to feed them. What an experience!
This was a short but very busy spiritual day. I managed to visit some of the biggest Buddhist temples in Bangkok and discover many new things. I learned at school about every religion and the differences between them. But to see one religion in its home and to feel the peace and serenity in the temples is another thing.
Each Wat had its particularities. The fact that I had to remove my shoes at each temple’s door left a deep impression to me. It is done not only to keep the floors clean, but to show the respect for the God’s house. I am satisfied that I had the chance to visit these temples – a very unique and unforgettable experience!