|On Monday, 20 January,
we all had a break from the Bangkok International
Film Festival and went on a variety of different excursions. I went
on the river trip, which took us down the Choa Phraya river. Our first
stop was at Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn). The central prang of the temple
is 343 feet high and it and the four that surround it are covered in ceramic
tiles and multi-coloured porcelain.
The boat then took us to the Royal Barge museum. This contained busy men restoring at least two of these long ceremonial boats. The barges are used on important ceremonial occasions and are highly decorated. They indicate the importance of both the river and the Royal family to the people of Bangkok and Thailand. This was the furtherest part of our journey.
On the way back from the Royal Barge museum we stopped, along with other river boats, to feed the fish. When bread was passed around to throw to the fish I expected a few small fish, instead we got lots of large frenzied fish surging to the surface to bite anything thatís going. They looked like cat fish but I would welcome a more correct description of them.
On landing we took a short trip to Wat Po, the largest temple in Thailand. We viewed the famed statue of a huge reclining Buddha - itís 50 feet high and 150 feet long. It was built in the reign of King Rama III (1824-1851) and is covered in layers of gold leaf. The statue represents the Buddha in his dieing moments shortly before he enters the state of Nirvana. The huge complex of buildings has itís own colony and a School of Traditional Medicine. We all got a traditional massage here, I wasnít looking forward to it and was in reality quite pleasant.
After all these tourist activities we ended up in a fine restaurant that had stunning river views.
Here is a good opportunity to say how much I liked Bangkok. On arrival the airport is large, clean and efficient, which is important after a long flight. From various guidebooks I knew Bangkok was a large modern city but I was still impressed by the sheer scale of the place as my taxi took me to the Conrad Hotel, Wireless Road. This trip gave me an unexpected tour of the city as the Conrad had only just been opened and most taxi drivers were unaware of its presence. Although the roads are very congested most of the drivers are very polite; there isnít the honking of horns and intimidating tail-gating that you would expect anywhere else in the world. This kind of politeness seems to run throughout all life in Thailand.
I will add some more notes here soon....
See the rest of my report on the 5th
Bangkok International Film Festival.
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