Saturday, March 28, 2009

breezin' thru bangkok 2

Bangkok teems with Buddhist temples. I would have wanted a visit to each and every nook and cranny but our itinerary only stipulates a visit to the famous Recombitant Buddha. The reclining buddha is huge, the whole thing is made of gold-plated metals. We had to take-off our shoes to get inside. Those in shorts and sleeveless tops are not allowed in. There are many caucasian tourists, most of them very tanned, most probably coming from the famous beaches of Pattaya or Phuket. Bangkok is their last stop for some cultural immersion.

Inside the temple, you can make a donation, and they'll give you a bunch of prayer coins that you can drop one-by-one in the little containers on the way out of the hall. To accumulate good karma or for some prayer petitions?

The buddha is located inside a huge compound with several pagodas and shrines. The pagodas are made of cement but coated with decorative tiles and gold-plated sheets. The designs are vibrant. In the evenings, the temples were lighted in such a way that the gold leaves shine and twinkle. We saw this impressive display during the Chao Phraya River cruise the night before.

We were told that temples in thailand are mostly "gifts" to important persons. For instance, the King would usually "gift" a mother or father with a temple which is not like any other temple. There's one, whose marbles come from Italy. Every commercial establishment also has a small temple. This is similar to the practice in Bali, indonesia.

The Thai King is very well-respected in the country. Most establishments would have a signage with the photo of the King or Queen, or would display a yellow flag, which is the color of the King. I was told that every monday, many Thais would wear yellow, as show of respect for the king.

Our next stop was the Gems Galllery. It's a typical places where tour guides bring guests to purchase something, where they will of course, get a certain percentage of the sales. Thailand is famous for gemstones, so we didn't offer any resistance.

After watching a audio-visual presentation about the gemstone industry in thailand, we were led to the craftmen's area. They showed us how they fashion the gems into jewelries. The persistent salesgirl will then lead you to the display area where you can buy beautiful jewelry. I've never seen such beautiful and extensive choices. unfotunately, they do not allow cameras inside. I would love to have any of those in display. The cheapest ones are those set in silver, whether rings, earings or bracelets, around 1500 pesos. The most expensive and intricate ones would are set in white gold, gold or even platinum. I saw some tiaras that go as high as 2M Baht.

My colleagues took a long time choosing and haggling for the best price. I got a set of earings and necklace of my birthstone topaz. It’s must be fate, because I love the color aqua blue. I have so many aqua blue shades of clothing. The topaz is a brilliant aqua blue, that really stands out on my skin. Kitang-kita. I would have wanted the blue sapphire because it’s what Thailand is famous for. But the color doesn’t stand out on my skin, as observed by the sales lady Helena, and I agree.

Ted bought some funky jade bracelet for himself and for nanay. Then waited for me at the coffee shop where there’s free flowing coffee and drinks.

We proceeded to Bangkok’s Siam Niramit Village & Theater. Siam Niramit is actually like our former Nayon Filipino. A small village inside the city which encapsulates all the culture, and places of the country in one single place. But unlike our Nayon Filipino, they don’t have reproductions of all the historical places, what they have were tableau of pastoral life, like people cooking the tradtional way, sewing, puppet and instruments-making, garland making, planting rice, etc.

After that, we proceeded to the pre-show dinner. We had international buffet throughout the tour,and tonight was no exception. The food was yummy! The Thai soup staple Tom Yum was present every where we go, but the best tom yum I tasted was at the Baiyoke Sky Hotel buffet. Really yummy, until now I can still taste the perfect combination of coconut milk, shrimps and chillies.

The show Siam Niramit is the most beautiful and colourful production I’ve seen. If Bangkok is a haven for the creative and talented 3rd sex, I think Siam Niramit is their greatest artistic tribute for Thailand. It’s basically a musical production, with extravagant and flamboyant costumes and set designs. Beautifully-made up actors and actresses, mime and dance to ethnic music. There are so many totally unexpected twists in the sets. There was rain, boat rides and swimming in lakes that appeared out of nowhere, there was ripening of the planted rice, appearance of trade galleons, and at the end, a cocaphony of animals, including a huge elephant which tamely roamed the house and the stage! Truly amazing! You can miss all the bargain hunts in Thailand, but Siam NIramit is surely not to be missed!

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