A FEW MORE TEMPLES ON THE BIG TRIP

We were still reeling from the sheer size of the Gold Buddha, these are a few pictures of the exterior of the building it’s housed in. Pure gold, can you imagine? You might expect it to be surrounded by armed guards, trip wires, mine fields and so on, but although it was out of reach on a huge platform, no one could lift it or remove it easily – even if it wasn’t a sacred monument.

A picture of the exterior of the building and the ceiling inside.

The Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) is a Khmer style Buddhist temple on the west banmk of the Chao Phraya River and we went to Wat Po, the largest and oldest temple in Bankok also known as the birthplace of the traditional Thai massage.

The afternoon was spent at the Royal Grand Palace, the official residence of the kings of Siam (now Thailand) which is in the historic centre of the city since 1782.  The king and his court lived there until 1925. It was quite sparse inside, but interesting.

More pics of this next time.

HISTORICAL RUBBISH

Now I forgot to mention that Victoria, deprived of her favourite Lord M, was ripe for the picking and sneaky Albert had been well coached in her likes and dislikes and was ready to ingratiate himself.

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To begin with he pretended to like dancing (he didn’t), he lied and told her he liked staying up late (he preferred early nights) and he was full of fun (he was a boring, lack lustre old fart).  But of course the stupid queen fell for him and the rest, as they say is history.

Stay safe till next week.

PLOUGHING ON THROUGH THE FAR EAST

We landed in Bangkok on 2nd February. Honestly their idea of a 3 star rating hotel would equal about 15 star in Europe, it was amazing. Once again we were upgraded to a deluxe suite, not sure why, but we were not going to complain.

Our guide took us to the following places and I’m not sure now which is which. Yes I’m ashamed to admit it but I didn’t want to spend all my time writing stuff down as I had in the past, but use my eyes to wonder, gape, drool and take it all in. There was so much to see, so many details, and we moved at such a fast pace to get it all in that it would be either the pictures or the script, and the photos won. We visited Wat Traimit, Wat Arun (Dawn Temple) and Wat Po.

Wat Traimit is the temple of the golden Buddha, famous for its 900 year old five and a half ton solid gold image of the Buddha. This week I am just going to post ONLY pictures of this as it just takes your breath away.

It was impossible to get it all in in one shot. I just love the one where they are working on the feet, using Mother of Pearl, as the man was showing us.

HISTORY NONSENSE

Now I could write a book about Queen Victoria, but I don’t like her enough and I would probably be very rude. Before Christmas I left her slobbering over Lord Melbourne, but her Uncle Leopold (the Belgium king who annexed the Belgian Congo as an extension to his back garden) and various other members of the family had other ideas. this is his photo.leopold-of-belgium

Of course they wanted to bring in a German suitor on the excuse that he would be Protestant and not a Catholic. (Frankly by now I’m sure Henry VIII wouldn’t have minded too much). Enter Albert (yeuk), the one with no sense of humour and every intention of being king.

This time he did the slobbering to get the young queen’s attention and it wasn’t too long before they were an item, frequently seen at the local bowling alley on a Friday night.

Till next week, stay safe.

THE BIG TRIP, THE TEMPLE COMPLEX ON THE HILL AND THE QUEEN I DON’T LIKE

I left off last time in northern Thailand at the top of the hill at Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. I’ve just noticed on the notes that visitors can climb the 309 steps for free to reach the pagoda. Free! Are they kidding! As I posted last time, we took the cable car up there and viewed the panoramic sight of Chang Mai city.  We watched lots of people ring bells, there were rows and rows of them. We weren’t sure of the ‘why’ for all this, and our guide had wandered off, but just in case, we also rang several of the bells. Some were really large and their tonality to my ears at any rate, was pitch perfect.

I think this is a delightful picture of DH finding the clapper on one of the larger ones. I know I posted the other one before, but I can’t help giggling.

The whole area housed several temples, and worshippers were performing different rites at each of them. I didn’t manage to get a full explanation as to what was happening.

I took so many pictures, I’ll have to show you the rest next time.

While Queen Elizabeth is my favourite queen – a Virgo like me, we share a name and my latest colouring product also turns me a slight shade of auburn –  my least favourite monarch either male or female, is the one I have reached now – Victoria, although that wasn’t her first name.vic-haema

I started out having some sympathy with her- also a mum who wasn’t kind, and she lost her father when young, but that is where the similarity ends.

I cheered when she got her own bedroom and practiced walking down the stairs all by herself, what an achievement!  But, as soon as she realized she was queen on one hand she started throwing her weight around and on the other, turned into a silly giggly girl over a man much older than herself. Find out who later. (That’s supposed to be a cliff hanger). Definition of cliff hanger … writer cleverly writes exciting bit without completing all the knowledge leaving the readers wanting to know more, so they eagerly wait for the next episode or chapter.  And no it’s NOT Prince Albert.

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Still shopping? Christmas is getting closer.

BIG TRIP CHANG MAI – ENTER THE QUEEN EVERYONE KNOWS

The last place we were taken to in northern Thailand was at Doi Suthep to visit Wat Umong and Wat Phrathat Doi. We had driven up into the forested foothills and stopped in a busy street.

and then whisked up in a cable car to the top of the hill

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Which gave us amazing views over Chang Mai

and a vast temple complex.

More pics next week.

APPALLING HISTORY LESSON

By the time Victoria ascended the throne – yes, it’s Victoria, did you guess right? – royalty did not have a terribly good name. George III had been mad, all the fathers and sons had been at each other’s throats and all those extraneous children sired by William did not impress the public either.

She began with flirting with her new Prime Minister Melbourne who was dashing, romantic and dropped compliments like leaves in autumn. No wonder she insisted on seeing him every single day.

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Till next week.

THE BIG TRIP, A COUPLE MORE TEMPLES AND THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION

Now I’m not really here doing my Monday blog – no, I’m in Miami and due to clever technology this will be scheduled to pop into your mailbox on the right day – well maybe – you may have noticed my dismal record for techie wizardry.

I was impressed with the marketing techniques in the Far East. In the western world any attraction secular or otherwise would be surrounded by stalls, shops and hawkers selling cheap, tatty souvenirs. Often there were no retail sales near the temples, and on the occasion there were, these were low key and very discreet.

The temple complex we visited had once been the home of the emerald Buddha which has a fascinating history. It was discovered in Chang Mai in the 15th century when the covering stucco began to peel off revealing it was made of semi-precious green stone.

Today it is housed in the What Phra Kaew chapel in Bangkok, and 3 times a year the king of Thailand changes the costumes adorning the statue, for the cool season, the rainy season and the hot season.

We were taken to a workshop where they worked aluminium, and I began chatting to a young man from Johannesburg who had travelled over to learn the art.

MORE HISTORICAL INCORRECT INFORMATION

The next queen was informed in her nightgown. That is to say the visitors had arrived very early in the morning after William IV has passed on during the night, so she didn’t have time to get dressed. The dear old sovereign had lasted until his successor was eighteen years and one month old. There was be NO regency!

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Of course Mummy was simply furious, especially as her previously biddable daughter’s first command was to have her mother’s bed moved out, in future she would sleep alone – well for now.

Have a great week.

THE BIG TRIP AND TEMPLES – ENTER NEXT MONARCH

The morning continued visiting more temples and my head was spinning from all the images. They were just amazing. All that gold!!

I admit to breathing a sigh of relief when I saw the tape at the bottom of these steps. I don’t do steps too well.

Everything moves with the times, and these waxwork images of elderly enlightened men are remembered with great respect.

Everywhere we went, we didn’t know which way to look, they were all so lavish, yet the people who cared for them owned almost nothing at all.

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As I visited so many of these shrines in quick succession, it was almost as if my brain refused to process it all. It was sensory overload.

 

AWFUL HISTORY LESSON

Now the next monarch coming up had a pretty terrible childhood. Mummy was a bit of a monster if we are to believe the history books. She’d worked out that her daughter just might inherit the throne one day and thought what fun it would be to be regent. So she and her boyfriend (let me hastily add here she was now a widow for the second time), cooked up all the schemes they could while waiting for the fateful day. In the meantime it was very important to look after the daughter. This was taken to extremes – for example she was not allowed to sleep in her own bedroom, or walk down the stairs by herself. She was wrapped in cotton wool and oppressed beyond belief. She wasn’t even allowed to go out and hang around the mall with the boys.

The race was on – would William go to meet his maker before she turned 18? Watch this space!

And have a great week.

THE BIG TRIP NEXT EPISODE AND BYE BYE WILLIAM

The next morning I was hobbling around – with weight and volume in mind – I’d only packed one pair of sandals and all this walking was just too much for them. The soles parted company from the uppers. Our friendly guide whisked us through a Chang Mai market (I ignored the live frogs for sale) to a cobbler on the side of the road, who repaired them in a matter of moments. Now, living in Europe I miss this kind of instant, friendly and very cheap service seen frequently in Africa as well.

I was thrilled with the repairs for we were about to cram in 4 temples in a morning – so you will understand I’m now not sure which is which. According to the itinerary, I’ve seen the Wat Chedi Luang, the Wat Phra Sing including the city pillar in a temple complex.

I was not allowed into the City Pillar because I’m female, as a very embarrassed guide explained to me. In Buddhism? I was quite taken aback. Back to that doctrine of women being unclean part of the time. I was still trying to work out even the most basic principles of this religion, and to be honest I left the Far East none the wiser. Sad, because I’d hoped to learn so much more.

I lent my iPad to the guide and he fired off these shots for me.

In one of the temples I got a blessing from a monk and then his female assistant tied a piece of white cotton on my wrist. I was told the monk was not allowed to actually touch me.img_3872

In the bizarre history lesson today we wave goodbye to William. Remember he was 63 when he climbed up on the throne, so he only reigned for 7 years – honestly, after waiting all that time poor guy and he was 71 when he popped his clogs. Now despite siring or begetting, whichever you prefer, at least eleven illegitimate children we know about, he couldn’t just hand the throne to any of them – simply not allowed under British law. So the nearest relative was the daughter of a woman he particularly disliked. They even had a stand up row in the middle of a royal banquet. Her name was Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, a widowed German princess with two children who had been rushed into a marriage with the fourth and youngest of George III’s sons, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Streathearn, when it was suddenly noticed there wasn’t anyone to come after William.

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Standing up at the dinner table William said, in a very loud voice:- “I trust to God that my life maybe spared for nine months longer … I should then have the satisfaction of leaving the exercise of the Royal authority to the personal authority of that young lady, heiress presumptive to the Crown, and not in the hands of a person now near me, who is surrounded by evil advisers and is herself incompetent to act with propriety in the situation in which she would be placed.”

This is a pic of Mummy

There are absolutely no prizes for guessing who was coming next.