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A Shimmering Giant

This yak is actually small in size, but considered to be a giant in Thailand. Commonly placed at the gates of Buddhist temples throughout Thailand as guardians, this is one of several protecting Prasat Phra Thep Bidon - the Royal Pantheon. The level of detail is simply exquisite.

You see one of these, and it's like - cool, super detailed. Someone went through a lot of trouble to make this. Then you see that there are innumerable yakshas throughout the temple and it's all the more impressive. It's easy to get lost in looking at the larger figures and buildings that make up the temple, but taking a few moments to examine the details up close is its own rewarding experience.

Blogged: http://www.aisleseatplease.com/blog/2016/9/29/a-shimmering-giant

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#Yak #Yaksa #WatPhraKaew #Bangkok #Thailand #Temple #Wat #Guardian #Giant #Yaksha #PrasatPhraThepBidon #Asia #SouthEastAsia #travel #photography #buddhism #buddhist #vertical #opulent #extravagant #spiritual #travelphotography #방콕 #태국
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Greater Meaning In The Noise

Elaborate decorative elements of Phra Si Rattana Chedi, inside Wat Phra Kaew. The wat itself is considered the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand, and is within the walls of the Grand Palace. The level of detail of even the smallest elements that comprise this opulent temple are as impressive as the largest structures they make up.

Walking the grounds is not nearly as peaceful as I would prefer when it comes to a Buddhist temple. It would seem to be more tourist attraction than temple in the same way that Notre-Dame is a cathedral. In addition to the other tourists, you have the roasting Sun to contend with, so if you can, go earlier in the day before the Sun rises too high in the sky.

Blogged: http://www.aisleseatplease.com/blog/2016/6/30/greater-meaning-in-the-noise

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Sunset over Bangkok

Enjoyed post-dinner cocktails on top of the Centara Grand Hotel specifically to take in the sunset with commanding 360 degree panoramic views. Couldn't believe how not-packed this place (Red Sky) was on a Saturday night! And, since it was happy hour, drinks were buy one get one free, so it was quite reasonable!
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Phra Maha Chedi Si Ratchakan

This is one of the four pagodas that make up Phra Maha Chedi Si Rajakarn. At 42m tall each, they seem to almost reach the heavens at times. Elaborately decorated and colorful, they are yet another splash of color in an already opulent temple.

The reference to these structures as pagodas is something that confuses me. Chedi is another name for stupa, which is a structure that would contain Buddhist relics, or in this case occasionally that of Thai royalty. As the stupa is filled in, you can't enter it, whereas you can enter some pagodas. Why this is referred to as both a Chedi and a Pagoda just boggles my mind, but then again, I'm not Buddhist scholar.
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The Hall of Buddhas

There are over 1,000 images of Buddha at Wat Pho. Although I didn't check, I think they're each slightly different. Can you imagine being the person to check and make sure each statue has a slightly different pose or face? Well, can't imagine it's so bad having to spend your time walking among the rows of beautiful Buddha statues in such a peaceful and beautiful setting.
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The Jeweled Protector

Always impressive to see the sheer amount of gold and jewels on display when visiting some palaces and grand temples. I always wonder, how hard would it be to chip away a tiny bit, and how much would that yield? Not that I have any intention of doing anything remotely like that. I do like the old motto, adopted by the US National Parks, "Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints."

Now that we covered my hidden klepto thoughts, I'll also reveal that I often wonder just how many people were involved in building these beautiful, artistic structures. Did one guy work on this little demon looking creature here, or was it joint effort of a sculptor along with a decorator?
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Sahatsadecha The Colorful Demon Guardian

Situated inside the walls of the Grand Palace in Bangkok is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which is in fact a royal chapel and not a temple as there's no living quarters for the monks. The chapel is home to some of the most intricate and beautiful Thai architecture. Every way you look it's immediately clear just how much painstaking effort must have been taking to decorate, well, everything. Lots of sparkles and bold Buddhist colors.

Upon landing in Suvarnabhumi Airport (Bangkok), you might notice some giant demon like guardians. It's sort of a hint of what's to come inside Thailand itself for as you go to different temples, you might also see similar guardians. I'm not so well versed in Buddhism to understand or recognize the differences, but they are beautiful and imposing figures.

Sahatsadecha is the guardian pictured here. A generally benevolent Yaksha, or nature-spirit that acts as a caretaker. In Thailand, Yakshas are commonly guardians of gates in Buddhist temples throughout the country since at least the 14th century.
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Wat Arun

Traffic in Bangkok, like pretty much every other major Asian city, is horrendous. Taking the SkyTrain/MRT mass transit options can be pretty quick and convenient. Sometimes though, an express boat is what you really need, and they're cheap too! On the way to the Grand Palace, we paid at the manned ticket booth and received our tickets as well as apparently complimentary juice boxes. Not sure if the juice boxes are a regular thing or just some random promotion. On the way back however, it seemed that the system relied on manual fare collection, which is, let's just say, never perfect.

On the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, somewhat opposite of the Grand Palace, is the Temple of Dawn. Also known as Wat Arun or by a super long Thai name with lots of repeating letters I have no hope of pronouncing correctly. The central tower is known as a prang in Khmer architecture, and stands over 200 feet tall. The level of ornate detail and decoration that has gone into not only Wat Arun but the other significant temples in the area is superbly impressive.
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In The Ancient Style

Sure, it might not have the greatest acting or dialogue, but I enjoyed watching Jean-Claude Van Damme in Kickboxer. One of the best parts of the movie is when there is a fight, "in the ancient style" where the fighters coat their hands in shards of glass. I usually like to immerse myself in some tv documentaries and movies about the country I'm visiting prior to getting there, but in this case rewatching Kickboxer was more of a guilty pleasure.

I asked my friend to go with me to see a real Muay Thai fight while we were in Bangkok, not fully knowing what to expect. I thought it'd be fun to go for an hour or so and would then get bored and move on. Once you get inside the stadium though, and there's a crowd of people cheering for their favorite fighter (whom they may have money riding on), you pretty easily get into it. Not all the fights were amazing, but the title match was definitely entertaining, if not a little bloody. Money well spent in my book!
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Life Is A Blur

Headed to Lumpinee Stadium to catch my first Muay Thai fight, the lights of Bangkok seemed to blur out. It was like a bokeh special. While Bangkok has its share of seedy neon lighting, it also has a number of cultural treasures. My two and a half days there were a bit of blur as I took in all that I could in a short period of time.

It's hard to really experience a country or a culture in such a short time, but you at least get a small sense for it. My trips always seem to be split between trying to explore and connect with a country, and then squeezing in some city/country I am less interested in. I don't think that will change anytime soon, so long as I get to explore cool and interesting places.
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