After spending the late morning thoroughly myself at the Grand Palace, I decided it was time to move on to my next planned stop – Wat Pho and the Reclining Buddha. I took a short break in the shade, sitting on the grass just outside the walls of the Grand Palace along with several other groups of travelers. I re-hydrated and used the time to cool down and look at my guide book. I knew Wat Pho was nearby but still needed to get my bearings.
All I needed to do was make a short walk down the street, hang a right and I would be there. Once I turned onto the side street where the Temple entrance should be located I heard someone yelling out at me trying to get my attention from across the street. “Temple Closed. Temple Closed.” He shouted and waved his arms at me. I ignored him and kept walking, knowing that was one of the oldest scams in the book. But they must still con plenty of marks or they wouldn’t be out there doing it.
The first doorway I passed was closed, and I feared the scammer might not have been a scammer at all.
But the next was wide open. Faith in my street sense and research had been restored. I entered, paid the tariff and began to walk around. There were no maps or any guidance, so I just began to wander, taking in the various Buddha statues, artwork, and construction going on – confident I couldn’t miss the Reclining Buddha as the grounds were not that large and the statue was supposed to be huge.
I came across a two story tall golden Buddha and thought maybe I had visited the temple of the standing Buddha by mistake.
Next I found some sort of temple hall where a ceremony was going on. Trying to understand the significance of anything on my own was futile; I just enjoyed the scenes and moved on. I could start to really see the benefit of having a local guide to explain things.
I wandered around a bit more, taking in the sights and architecture. I was starting to wonder if I really was going to find the Reclining Buddha.
There it was, the Reclining Buddha. It looks more impressive than it sounds and well worth the visit. The room it was housed in was very narrow and packed with people which made taking photos a bit tough.
After my tour was over, I was stood outside of Wat Pho when a Thai man came up and started talking to me. My defenses were up and I was a little hesitant about engaging in the conversation. Turned out to be quite nice. He was an instructor at the school – Wat Pho is the oldest and most prestigious school for traditional Thai Massage as well as a temple. We had a nice conversation and it was a highlight in an already amazing day.