After Pattaya, we decided to head north, back to Bangkok for our second visit; Paula’s brother and his family were flying back to New Zealand in a few days, her parents were due to fly to Vietnam on the 3rd of January and we had a bus booked to take us into Cambodia.
As there were ten of us travelling together, we decided to book a private van which would take us door to door for the total cost of 3,000 THB ($133.33 NZD). Our pick up in Pattaya was pretty flawless and the journey was without issue, however it took a few backtracks to get to our Bangkok accomodation. This accommodation option in Bangkok was nowhere near as convenient as our previous stay as it was a little out-of-the-way, but the apartments were more than comfortable for our one week stay.
When we knew we were returning to Bangkok we put a visit to the King’s crematorium on our ‘must visit’ list. The crematorium was constructed during the one year mourning period for his Majesty, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, at a cost of 1 billion Thai Baht ($43 million NZD). The late King was the longest-reigning monarch in the world and with the crematorium due to be dismantled come the 1st January 2018 we only had a small window to visit. As we were unable to visit the Grand Palace during our last visit to Bangkok (as it was closed during October due to the King’s funeral) we decided to visit both areas in the same day along with thousands of other people. The Grand Palace is very strict on the required dress code, which meant several of us had to purchase new tops or pants. For me this meant purchasing the very cliché ‘elephant pants’, the ones that nearly every tourist buys when coming to Thailand and despite my niece making fun of me and my fashion sense, they have actually grown on me and have quickly become my ‘temple visiting pants’.
The Grand Palace tickets cost 500 THB ($23 NZD) each for adults and children above 120cm, which meant we also had to fork out for Lincoln. The tickets included access to the grounds of the Palace as well as The Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The temple is considered the most sacred Buddhist temple in all of Thailand and it definitely is a very impressive place. For me the murals which lined the wall around the Emerald Buddha temple were the highlight, they seemed to stretch on forever. The murals depict Ramayana, an ancient Indian epic poem about prince Rama, rescuing his wife Sita from the demon king Ravana. You could quite happily spend hours just viewing the murals and the scenes each one depicts, however with hot, tired and hungry kids, and not to mention a few adults, we decided to leave after a few hours and go searching for some lunch. After a very nice stewed pork leg on rice meal, our extended family group split up, leaving Paula’s parents, Paula, Braxton and myself to visit the crematorium while the others (along with Lincoln) needed a customary tuk tuk ride and to hunt out Krispy Kreme donuts (as they are not available in New Zealand).
The crematorium is a 50-metre, three-tiered structure which represents Mount Meru, the centre of the Hindu and Buddhist universe where it is believed Thai royals return after death. The structure is covered with images from mythology and the life of the late King, including a pair of statues of his favourite dogs. Yellow flower gardens have also been planted throughout the area, as yellow represents the late King’s birthday colour. The crematorium was expecting over 100,000 people to visit each and every day for the near two month period it was open to the public who wished to pay their respects. As Paula’s parents were still with us in Bangkok on New Year Eve’s we decided to take them up on the offer of looking after the boys for us to celebrate the year that was. I’m not sure of the last time we were actually still awake at midnight but given we were in one of the largest cities in Southeast Asia we thought we would make a special effort. So, along with over a quarter of a million other people, we descended into central Bangkok near CentralWorld. Here the streets were blocked off to vehicles, so it meant an opportunity to walk down the middle of one of the busiest roads in Thailand.
After going through security checks and metal detectors we went on the hunt for a drink and some food to help get us through to midnight. This was probably a mistake, as about 10 minutes before the clock ticked over we found ourselves stuck below one of the BTS (skytain) lines with only a very partial view. This meant come midnight we missed most of the fireworks with only a few reaching above the skytrain line. A bit of a fail on our part but by now it was 12.05am and we both agreed it was past our bedtime. So we made the hour and a half journey back home with a mixture of walking, skytrain and scooter taxis. But nonetheless, a wonderful memory to add to our 2017 adventures so far.
Jim Thompson House
Jim Thompson is quite a well-known name throughout Thailand and his mysterious disappearance in Malaysia in 1967 adds to his notoriety. If you’d like to know more about him, follow this link, he’s quite an interesting man.
We had previously visited the Jim Thompson farm in the Nakhon Ratchasima Province earlier in December, so when we had a free day in Bangkok, my mum and I (Paula) decided to visit the Jim Thompson House Museum. On arrival I immediately thought “what a well run operation”; staff where polite and very helpful, well dressed, the grounds were tidy and free from rubbish and the entry cost (150 THB/$6.67 NZD per person) was not outlandish. We were put into a group with an English-speaking guide and given a time that our tour would begin. This gave us around 25 minutes to look around the grounds and admire the amazing (and very over my budget) items in the gift shop.Our tour of the grounds and inside of the buildings lasted around 35-40 minutes and gave us more insights into Jim Thompson, his art, artefacts and sculpture collections and how he made his life in Thailand. After the tour we looked more around the grounds, revisited a few areas and looked through the Indonesian ‘Patterns of Meaning’ exhibition currently on show at the Jim Thompson Art Centre.The James H.W. Thompson Foundation continues Jim Thompson’s legacy with this well maintained and preserved facility and it’s well worth a visit. For more photos of our visit to Jim Thompson House, visit our Facebook page.
Average Daily Spend – $119.33 NZD ($53.17 under budget per day)
– Logan (with contribution from Paula)