Where We Be
Bangkok, Thailand -- Grand Palace
The palace is a riot of colors, shapes, and statues -- I could hardly put my camera down
The entrance is guarded by two huge warriors
...And their ferocious foo dog!
No photos are allowed inside Wat Phra Kaew (the Temple of the Emerald Buddha), but you can try to take photos
from just outside. These were the best I could manage of the sacred symbol of Thailand set in its elaborate altar.
Outside Wat Phra Kaew you can dip a lotus blossom in holy water
and sprinkle it on the head to bring blessing and good fortune
Every surface of the outside of the temple
is covered in flamboyant decoration and color
The huge golden bell tower (stupa) is Phra Siratana Chedi
Artists must have had the time of their lives decorating this place
One of my favorite corners of the palace complex
The tiled roofs are a study in primary colors: blue, yellow, red
These poor fellows seem to have the hardest task at the palace
This curious ostrich-human is fanciful to say the least
The jumble of images and styles is overwhelming at times -- but undeniably fun
Simply put, this place is a photographer's paradise
The palace grounds contain a large-scale model of Cambodia's Angkor Wat. Why?
Because Siam ruled Cambodia for hundreds of years before the French colonized it.
Elegant architecture and colorful geometric details add to the beauty of this place
The skyline at the Grand Palace is quite different from anything you'd see in America
The ubosot (main shrine) of Wat Phra Kaew is
perhaps the largest building in the complex
Rich murals decorate many of the walls of the palace
Some murals tell the story of the Ramakien, Thailand's national epic,
which is derived from the Hindu Ramayana but with a Thai twist
The Grand Palace grounds are expansive: we wandered around happily
for a good two hours at what is probably Bangkok's top tourist attraction
The final highlight of our visit was seeing Chakri Maha Prasat, nicknamed "the
Westerner with a Thai hat" due to its mix of Western architecture with Thai-style roof
Royal Guards march outside Chakri Praha Masat (shown below)
I wandered around the Grand Palace in a sort of
photographer's fugue state. There are so many
things to take pictures of here: curious statues
of ostrich-like humans, tall gargoyle guardians,
sparkling gold-and-blue tiled roofs, temples,
shrines, pavilions, bells, gardens, courtyards,
gilding and gold leaf everywhere -- a blissful
confection of images and colors for the eyes.

The palace is located in the heart of historic
Bangkok and is an easy walk from Tha Chang
pier on the Chao Phraya River. It has been the
official residence of the Kings of Siam and
Thailand since 1782. Nowadays it's mostly used
for official ceremonies -- and as a draw for
tourists of course. We paid a hefty fee to get in:
500 baht ($17) each. But while the price is high,
this place packs so much architectural glitz and
glamour into one space it's worth it.

Plus there's a second draw: this is the home of
the Emerald Buddha, Thailand’s most revered
icon. Wat Phra Kaew is located on the grounds
of the Grand Palace and is an attraction in its
own right. We removed our shoes and headed
within, sitting on polished tiles and drinking in
the rich atmosphere. Fine murals line the walls,
but front and center is the Emerald Buddha
itself, located high up on an elaborate gilded
altar. The icon's seasonal robes are changed
three times per year by the King -- a tradition
thought to bring good luck to the country. You'll
need binoculars to see it up close -- it's only 45
cm tall -- but it has quite the wild history. Carved
in India in 43 BC, it's said to have made its home
in India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Cambodia, and Laos
before finally coming to rest in Thailand.
The Grand Palace is a feast of colors and images for the senses
And this guard looks quite stylish with his plaited beard and elaborate robe
Each temple window frames a different view
A Royal Guard wannabe?