Friday, December 28, 2012

Isn't it grand?

I live for the pinch myself moments that I get when I find myself in new experiences in faraway lands.  The latest was Christmas Day in Bangkok with Roger, Brad and Anette.  If that wasn't enough, to add to the fun and "can you believe it" moments was having dinner with Whitney Walsh and her two lovely girlfriends who are traveling around SE Asia with her over the holidays.

We've known Whitney since she was a toddler in Calgary, and her parents are dear friends of ours. The 7 of us swapped travel stories for hours and we were in a constant state of laughter. How wonderful our paths would cross on Christmas Day.
We didn't miss turkey at all and feasted on Thai appetizers and a few bottles of wine

Left to right:  Brad, Whitney, Melissa, Heather, Patricia, Anette, Roger

Sharing a laugh as all our cameras were lined up and set on timers
 It was definitely a Christmas dinner we'll never forget.

Back to sightseeing....we decided to go to the Grand Palace on Boxing Day, and it doesn't get more grand than this. Before entering the grounds, we heard a soothing woman's voice over the loud speaker cautioning tourists not to get scammed by "wily strangers" trying to sell them tours or send them elsewhere.

Visitors to the Grand Palace require proper dress -- meaning men wear pants, and women wear long skirts.  Loaners were available for those unprepared which resulted in some previously dignified looking men wearing pants that resembled elephant printed pajamas.

Built in the 1700's, the Grand Palace in the heart of Bangkok, is over the top.  Everywhere you look, there is more gold and glitter than you could ever imagine.  Brad, Anette and I trooped through the grounds on a blistering hot 40C (104F) day while Roger decided to work out at the hotel gym and have a massage.  It turned out to be one of the top 10 travel experiences I've had in the last few years.

The Royal Family has not occupied the palace and grounds for about 80 years, it is still used for many ceremonies throughout the year.

A replica of temples at Angkor Wat 
Anette taking a short break -- at 19 weeks pregnant, she's been game for anything and feeling great.

The murals weren't always of spirits, but often of daily life...
Note some breast fondling in the mural on the left
Must have been some party!

Entrance to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (the glowing light in the background is the Buddha)

A gardener trimming a bonsai tree with painstaking accuracy

Our guide explained that all Buddhist men are expected to spend at least 1 - 3 months living as a monk, with boys as young as 6 years old can begin life as a novice monk.
The colors of monk's robes are determined by the region where the monks come from
Brad found a little shade 

It had it all:  pageantry, glitz, spirituality, history, and beauty.  It was a grand day touring a very grand palace.

"We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if we seek them with our eyes open."  
                                                                                                   Jawaharal Nehru

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