Moving on, taking advantage of this sweet writer’s high, let’s talk about our third day in Bangkok. We were near to the Grand Palace and for whatever reason, I felt very strongly that we must go. We grabbed a tuk-tuk, which was by far the girls’ favorite Bangkok experience (aside from all of the street dogs and cats), and we swiftly arrived at our destination.
It was during the tuk-tuk ride that Marcus pulled the most obscure memory from his girl-dad mind and said he was reminded of one of the girls’ books when one of the characters dresses as a Thai princess. After a bit of back and forth, because I truly did not know what he was talking about, we figured out it was from the book Olivia and the Fairy Princesses in which she is trying to set herself apart from all of the other little girls who dress as the same fairy princess. I’ll be honest. I liked that book (and all of the Olivia books). I think the girls liked the book, too. But was it on repeat night after night? Not really. Apparently it was for Marcus.
I had spent some time trying to mentally prepare the girls for dressing appropriately when we went to the Grand Palace (not that they dress inappropriately but it’s always good to warn them that I’m going to make an attempt to dictate what they wear). When visiting the temples there is a strict dress code mostly geared towards women but a few rules also apply to men. For example: No shorts, no ripped jeans, nothing above the knee, no tight pants, no bare shoulders, no offensive words or images on clothes, etc. At the Grand Palace it is so important to dress accordingly that there is a guard who will either allow you in or usher you into a separate room where you must purchase appropriate clothing. For whatever reason, my barely knee-length skirt made the cut but Marcus’s shorts did not (the girls were fine in t-shirts and shorts). So, if you see pictures of Marcus in purple harem pants just know, it was not his first choice in clothing that day.
Once we made it through all of the various check-points we finally arrived on the grounds of the Grand Palace. Most importantly, the Grand Palace is home to the Wat Phra Kaew which houses the Emerald Buddha and is by far the most exquisite complex of buildings I have ever seen. Even the kids seemed to be stunned into a silence as they walked around and tried to take it all in. Gilded buildings, which house the relics of the Buddha and other sacred objects, are just a few of the 100 buildings that make-up this temple. Gold leaf and colored glass adorn the walls. Golden mythological figures and colorful giants stand guard throughout the temple grounds. It is all but silent except for the tinkling sound of glass moving in the breeze.
All four of us removed our shoes and quietly climbed the stairs into the main temple. While in the temple it is important to remember a few things: Never point your feet towards the Buddha, always be lower than the Buddha, do not take pictures, and speak in hushed tones (or better yet, don’t speak at all). The peace and tranquility that washed over me was profound. I made a comment to Marcus about it later and he said it was probably because the kids were forced to be silent, which I agreed with, but the fact of the matter is they sat there, in awe, taking in the figures and murals that surrounded us for a solid 10 minutes.
Surrounding the entire temple complex is a mural depicting the Ramakien epic which was completed in 1797. To give an idea of the scale of this mural, Wat Phra Kaew sits on 234 acres. To be able to walk and look at the entire mural and appreciate it takes about as long as it does to walk around and appreciate the architecture. Needless to say, it was about this time that one of the girls started to lose it (guess which one) and we started to make our way back to the hotel.
To round-out our Bangkok experience we took the girls for a Thai massage. I assume it was on the more reputable side because they were happy to accommodate a family with two little girls. If it wasn’t reputable then I guess we all got to experience the sex tourism side of Bangkok and I may need to have a conversation with the kids. Anyway, after the massage I felt a little bad because we just threw the girls into it without much warning about what exactly a massage entails, e.g. they may massage near your buttocks and that whole “don’t let others touch you in your private areas” lesson kind of goes out the window. To be perfectly clear, Marcus and I were next to them the entire time and I have no doubt the ladies were more delicate with the children.
Thus ended our Bangkok experience. Our next stop after this was Phuket which we all were looking forward to as we had stand-up paddle boarding to do, elephants to visit, and boats to ride on. We got to do 3/4 of that.