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The Royal Palace of Thailand
February 18th, 2010 by Tessa
Skyline inside the Wat - the golden onion and it's friends

Skyline inside the Wat - the golden onion and it's friends

One would expect people to be flouncing around in fabulous, flowing silks and feathered hats with their dainty toes in fabric shoes as they gamble around the cobblestone entryway to the Grand Royal Palace of Thailand.  A white wall skirts the outside of the palace grounds.  Not even reaching 10 feet tall, I doubted that it would withstand an attack from even the olden times when the palace was in full swing.  If we hand not walked all this way to see this specific site, and if it had not been so vast an area (not to mention the fact that there was a golden- onion like thing in the middle of the grounds), I would probably have assumed it a simple Holiday Inn enclosed in white walls with a very well tended garden.

The giant, onion-like figure glowed like a light bulb to our left.  I only had enough time to glimpse intothe small shops lining the walkway on the way to the temple (golden onion?) before I fell down the stair in a mess of a skirt. Mom constantly adjusted her new polyester jacket (and by new I mean new to HER) as if it would somehow make it go away. I pulled up my skirt, not really caring if my ankles showing was disrespectful, and hopped down the stairs, mumbling about borrowing the “appropriate” (and very hot) clothes from the “room for people who had forgotten to wear clothes that covered their shoulders or passed their knees.”

Lonely Planet did me wrong!  I was not allowed to wear my stylin' capri pants into the Wat, and instead had to "borrow" this awesome skirt...

Lonely Planet did me wrong! I was not allowed to wear my stylin' capri pants into the Wat, and instead had to "borrow" this awesome skirt...

The throngs of people bustled about and we eventually found ourselves in a museum displaying amazing works of gold and silver, studded with diamonds and other rare gems. The carpet looked like it needed some major vacuuming and the wood was a scratched chocolaty brown. Our little troop of four was herded into a corridor, passed the room displaying the clothes that the Emerald Buddha wore at different times of the year, and were eventually deposited in front of what, from afar looked like the golden onion.

To my surprise, the giant structure wasn’t painted gold, but was covered by hundreds of thousands of little golden, reflective, glass tiles. And up close, it gave me the impression of a giant salt/pepper grinder instead of an onion. True, it had the bulbous shape of and onion at the base, but then its long neck shot up skywards to be topped by a little flourish. And behind it was another building, with patterns sewn onto it in the same sized, mirror like tiles. The building, sparkled, glimmered and rippled in the sun like the green tail-feather of a peacock. Purple and blue and yellow and green appeared to move and dart to and fro on the walls like tropical fish.

The hordes of people seemed to all converge on the building’s tall doorway and the basin of water and flowers in front of it.  With both hands, they would firmly hold the flower between their palms as if preying, would dunk the lotus head into the water, and quickly dab their head with the flower before the water ran off in small, cold trickles. The doors were white and painted elaborately with dragon and flower patterns, crossing and crawling and weaving their way up the door.

Bajillions of tiny gold tiles, yes bajillions!

Bajillions of tiny gold tiles, yes bajillions!

Teeny tiny tiles everywhere

Teeny tiny tiles everywhere

My bare feet pattered on the floor boards as I entered from the doorway that seemed most quiet. I knelt down, imitating the others all around me. In front of me was a large display of what looked like a mountain of stacked furniture (although, very symmetrical stacked furniture).   Every object that wasn’t a painting, the wall, or the floor was covered in golden paint.  The tables were covered in golden paint and sparkled as if they were really solid gold.  Giant six foot statues were painted gold down to their shiny bare toes.  The lampshade-like contraptions that “levitated” around all of the golden statue’s head were  gold and the wooden clouds were gold as well.  It didn’t take very long for my eyes to be drawn to the one non-golden object in the whole room (except for the donation box of course, which a monk rudely placed in front of me while I was looking at the statues).

The Emerald Buddha sat in the middle of the heap of golden furniture.  He himself wasn’t gold (he was obviously green) but the statue was cloaked in robe made of pure gold.

I suddenly felt very uneasy standing in the large, beautiful room with all the golden statues looking at the little crowd of people kneeling with their foreheads touching the wood, so I got up and quietly left the room to go find Phoebe, mom and dad.

Us with one of the Emerald Buddhas giant guards

Us with one of the Emerald Buddhas giant guards

Don't know what her job is, but we thought she was pretty

Don't know what her job is, but we thought she was pretty

Sitting buddha outside of the temple

Sitting buddha outside of the temple


6 Responses  
Christy Cline writes:
February 20th, 2010 at 7:35 pm

You made me feel like I was there! Great writing miss!

Mary Erickson writes:
February 21st, 2010 at 10:19 am

Dear Tessa,

I had wanted to check up on your travels and finally did this weekend. Your description of the emerald buddha palace was so picturesque. Good writing! What a remarkable education you are experiencing. What amazing parents you have.

John Boyer writes:
February 22nd, 2010 at 3:50 am

I don’t know why its taken me so long to visit your blog, its wonderful in every way. I really think you may have to publish your journey and comments in a book when you return. I’m so envious. What a trip.
I’ll be looking forward to checking in and hearing about your travels when next we meet. Keep on truckin’. Uncle John and Della Rose.

John Boyer writes:
February 22nd, 2010 at 5:49 am

I tried to leave a comment before, but I’m not sure if it got to you. I’m trying again.
Jeff this is Dessie’s son John, and I want to get in touch with your dad. If you get this, would you drop me a note with his contact info? Thank you very much. I’m totally impressed with your site. Wow, just wow. What a trip. And, this blog/website is awesome. JohnB and Della Rose

Cricket Bourget writes:
March 7th, 2010 at 4:13 pm

I love all the descriptive details of your fascinating visit, and the pictures you chose of the ornate and intricate art work are just beautiful!

Miranda writes:
March 9th, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Tessa, what an amazing picture you paint with your descriptive writing. You also are looking more and more like your mom. I had to do a double-take.

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