On the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew (วัดพระแก้ว) in Bangkok. Within a few days of being in Bangkok I took a break from job hunting to actually experience something unique to the country, its temples.
As I was staying near Khao San Rd. at the time it was a nice walk from my guesthouse along the Chao Phraya River (แม่น้ำเจ้าพระยา) and through the amulet market. The 400 baht ticket got me entrance to the grounds of the Grand Palace and entry to the temple. Less interested in the Grand Palace, I spent the majority of my time wandering about the temple.
Aside from observing the debauch that takes place on KSR, this was my first leap into tourist Thailand. The day was hot and muggy and I wore bad shoes (in an attempt to not wear flip-flops). Almost every photo I took was came out overexposed due to the bright sun. I also observed some weird behavior on the part of some of the other tourists (like, seriously). I saw a older man strip down to his underwear to put on long pants. I saw a young-ish dude wrap a sarong around his waist as if it was a towel to cover the fact that he was wearing shorts, which really irritated the guard and later I saw a lady sit down in front the Buddha with her legs stretched out in front of her like she was doing morning exercises (holy smokes, read a guidebook OR if you can’t be bothered, look at how every other person in the place is sitting with their feet behind them OR read the sign with the picture posted out front that says “Don’t point your feet to the Buddha”).
The whole experience wasn’t incredibly pleasant for me, but the architecture of the temple was absolutely extravagant and decadent and everything I had expected.
The significance of this temple is that it is the home of the Emerald Buddha. You wont see any pictures of the Buddha here however, because you can’t take pictures inside. It really was quite magnificent though. It was, for all intents and purposes, a tourist attraction temple and I knew this going in. Aside from the occasional monk sighting I felt that there was very little culture to be observed here other than the culture of how tourists (from all over the world) behave when visiting Thailand. A bit of a false start for me in Thailand…