The Reclining Buddha behind us, and one of the oldest temple complexes in Thailand is laid out around us. The colors, the details, and the architecture are not at all western at all, which is, of course, exactly as it should be. But it’s also a little disorienting to me. Usually when traveling I love exploring markets and historic sights like Asiatique, Bangkok’s Night Market and Chatuchak, the world’s largest weekend market. It’s a little different exploring a temple complex. I don’t know what the customs are. What are the private areas or things going on that I should be extra careful not to intrude on? Is it ok to talk and laugh with my friend and our girls? What is appropriate? I want to be respectful and inoffensive – but I also want to watch the people offering prayers. And a picture of the particularly serene looking woman. The picture seems intrusive, and I let the opportunity pass.
I’m not sure which places are ok to just wander in to, and how far it’s ok to wander into them. There are some boundaries that are easy to deduce – I can go in to the pavilion with the Phra Ubosot. But I’m pretty sure that walking up around it is a no-no. Of course, all I have to go on is that no one else is doing it. For all I know, I missed a great photo opportunity.
Even with a touch of nagging hesitation about where exactly it’s ok for me to go, and where it’s not, I’m ready to set off with the camera. A picture of a fountain, the very eastern detailing, the colors and shapes call to me. The complex was founded in the 17th century, and renovation was started soon after the founding of our home country… it’s a little hard to wrap my mind around.
Within moments I can see that glazed look and tense shoulders settle in on hubby, and at least one daughter already starting to wilt with the prospect of architecture exploring. But, one daughter is with me, camera in hand! Thankfully, a splitting of the parties was quickly negotiated, and some of the group went off to do whatever it is people without cameras do at these locations. Our group headed off in another direction and had a great time, free to patiently wait for the crowd to pass or thin enough for the shot, or go for just one more angle…
When King Rama I began the renovation, he also began a project to bring images of Buddha from other sites in Thailand to Wat Pho. Today there are over 1000 images of Buddha here.
There are over 90 chedis on the grounds of Wat Pho. Some were built to hold the ashes of royalty, but others no one knows the purpose.
There are statue guardians stationed inside the gates.
And I’m not sure, but I think this is a dragon-dog. He seemed really dog-like to us, which caused us to take a closer look, and, I kid you not… he’s carrying free-rolling ball in his mouth. All of these that we saw had the ball. That became a favorite thing for the kids.
Wat Pho is a ‘must see’ on every travel guide for Bangkok – but it is for good reason. I took more pictures than are fair to subject you to, and there were no indications that I made any major faux pas in the process. So we’ll just add on a few more favorites, and let you all get on with your day.
Loving Bangkok? Check out these posts:
- Asiatique: Bangkok Night Market
- Chatachuk: The world’s largest weekend Market
If you want to check out more of my usual content, take a look at these posts on Europe and the food markets I love to visit!