Sunday, October 13, 2013

Grand Opulence

Before every chronicler in history lies an important question that repeats itself every time pen is put to paper, or fingers to the keypad. (How terrible does that last bit sound?! Fingers to the keypad... it's a good thing we invented paper first!)

So, the question. How much do I say? Really, this challenge of identifying and filtering out what might be inconsequential or not is quite challenging. Should history have told us, for example, that Galileo liked his toenails painted? You need to think about how much posterity can handle.

I face the same dilemma. Like- should I tell you that the ants here are different from the Indian ones? That you can drive two wheelers on the pavements? That apparently, I'm one of the few people in the world who did not know that Thai transgenders were called 'ladyboys' till I got here?

What I do know I must talk about, though, is some of the touristy stuff. Like the Grand Palace.

First of all, just to get the bitching out of the way, let me tell you that it was like the hottest day ever and from the moment we stepped out, we started slowly baking. 'We' here is my class at the institute where I study. That's us, minus a few people who couldn't make it-

I mention the heat because it impacted the experience totally. First of all, we had to cover up as much as possible because they have a dress code that frankly, I find unreasonable when you compare it to how they dress normally. Anyway, if you don't comply when you show up and actually have some skin peeking through, they'll bundle you up into shirts and sarongs/baggy pants right at the entrance. I went in Indian clothes that helped speed up the convection process. Within minutes of walking around, I wouldn't have cared if someone had handed the deed of the palace over to me- I would have used it to fan myself.

So, I huffed and I puffed and I took pictures. The palace is not what I expected. I thought we'd find a huge entrance in a building that stretched till the horizon and we'd walk through air conditioned corridors, looking at innumerable rooms with artifacts and such. But this was actually a a couple of smaller palaces, a series of halls and room and statues spread out over a huge open courtyard which allowed the sun to hit us from every side. Many halls were closed, many were museums showcasing stuff like weapons and fabric and one housed the Emerald Buddha- which unfortunately we're not allowed to take pictures of. But it was a beautiful statue in an elaborately crafted room and as I sat there for a few minutes admiring the art work and the gold shrine that worked its way almost to the cieling, I couldnt help thinking of Buddha, in his simple robe, sitting under a tree and how this was SO not what he talked about. It's why I decided early on not to become a messiah myself. People just don't listen and it embarrasses me to be worshiped and all that...

So, for me personally, the best bit was actually the ferry ride there and back. The palace is definitely impressive, if grandeur is your kinda scene. Some pics-


  1. Your posts are getting even better. And how much do you say... I'd say say all - I'd want to know about the ants and Galileo's painted toenails

    1. Haha, poor Galileo! Such slander. However, I will keep in mind that you'd like to know it all :)