Thursday, 30 April 2020

Ancient City

There's no limit to the imagination when it comes to a theme for an amusement park. Super-rich Thai industrialist businessman Lek Viriyaphan has produced a few whoppers, from a giant wood temple to a three-headed elephant extravaganza. Perhaps his greatest creation is his biggest one, a giant park devoted to many structures from ancient Thailand - Siam.

The park is a curious combination of replicated structures, a handful of relocated authentic sites and brand new imagined buildings. Anything goes.

The Pavilion of the Enlightened, perhaps the most beautiful structure in the park. It's part of Suvarnabhumi in Thai literary sources, meaning "Golden Land."

An example of ancient architecture, the Fruit-Shape Tower (Prang Mafuang). A slice of water-based rural life, a floating village.

The Great Vajiradhama Temple or Temple of Heavens.

Inside the temple complex, a reclining Buddha with bling, from head to toe.

Not a mirror trick, there are 28 large, gold Buddhas lined up inside the temple.

Fun with scale. A few of the re-created sites have been done in a miniaturized scale. The flora size gives it away. Back at the Enlightened Pavilion, wooden Buddhas gathering for a morning chat.

The park boasts about being the largest outdoor museum in the world. Not in doubt - exhausting.

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

The Temple of the Golden Buddha In Bangkok

Otherwise known as Wat Traimit, the Temple of the Golden Buddha is a highlight of Bangkok's Chinatown neighborhood. Its claim to fame, besides being a substantial temple, is a massive gold Buddha statue that weighs 5,500 kilograms.

Exterior of the imposing temple.

Praying at the big Buddha. He's purportedly to be the biggest solid gold Buddha in the world. Another figure, not as valuable.

The Wat has a little museum, with a few dioramas that glorify the Buddha statue. First up, moving the golden one at the beginning.

Ornamentation, sealed for your protection. Back to the dioramas, a little supervision is needed, with some sun protection.

Later in its life, our golden hero gets paraded through the streets.

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

The Coronation Of Vajiralongkorn, Tenth King Of Thailand

Sarah and James were lucky to be in Bangkok in early May 2019 to witness the coronation of Thailand's newest King, Vajiralongkorn. He is now officially known as Rama X. Bangkok was bathed in yellow and portraits of the new King were everywhere. A special moment, the first coronation in Thailand in almost 70 years.

The new King looms large.

It's impossible to overstate how many temporary shrines were erected for Vajiralongkorn, the whole city covered in portraits and flowers. A tree along the procession route is heavily wrapped in blooms.

Jumbo video screen along the parade route.

All hail the King's golden slippers! No joke, shrines everywhere, including this parking garage.

Even the new King could look a little bewildered at the amount of pomp.

Sacred meets profane, at McDonald's and a newsstand. Gotta sin to get saved.

The coronation itself? Best viewed from one's hotel television.

Monday, 27 April 2020

Around Bangkok

Seeking out the sublime among the everyday, there's always a chance something interesting is around the next corner in Bangkok.

Sikh wedding.

Jewelry store in Chinatown, amping things up a bit with a video board showing its fancy goods. The building is also painted gold, lest you misunderstand what the business does best. A broken lotus in a ruined house.

The eyebrow weave woman.

"You want pork or squid?" No thanks, let's go for some fresh fried chicken.

Casket vendor.

Window fashion. Paper shoe fashion.

Back to the Sikh wedding, the reception room.

Friday, 24 April 2020

Preserving For Posterity At Wat Paknam In Bangkok

Since Wat Paknam has been around since the 1500s, it has collected a few items along the way. Many things are on display in a museum area of the complex, a sort of personal Smithsonian-like romp through its own Wat history.

Welcome, come and see the treasures.

How did the Buddhist VIPs move around? Way back when, a nice pair of bullocks. More recently, a bullock-colored Mercedes Benz.

Plenty of classic Indiana Jones-like cabinets into which to peek.

Other exhibits, not so valuable. Old office equipment, as if the Wat could never throw anything away. Building big for the future, a massive 226 foot tall sitting Buddha taking form.

Back inside, more preserving today for tomorrow. And checking your messages.

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Magical Wat Paknam In Bangkok

Wat Paknam is a major Royal Wat just across the Chao Phraya River from downtown Bangkok. It's been around since about the 1500s and enjoys major support from the Buddhist community. It shows in the sprawling complex, big museum with Wat artifacts and a massive Buddha statue currently under construction.

The unique, square-tiered main Stupa.

How rich is the place? Well, leave your gold leaf on a Buddha statue. So much bling, some Buddhas are still wrapped up.

Inside the main stupa is where it gets trippy. There's an amazing dome that's truly cosmic.

Inside another temple, a more traditional prayer space. Nice wall murals. Back at the dome, quite the light show.

Worth more than a moment of gazing and gawking. World's most impressive black light poster?