As the new year 2020 came in, we were in in Bangkok, not out on the town at the $800 a plate celebrations, but enjoying a treat we hadn't had in many months: Domino's pizza. Now it may seem like a waste of a perfectly good international location, but those little things that you can't get in other places always make you smile and feel good when you find them. Our trip in Thailand started off with a trip to the local flower market.
All along the sidewalks, you can find the vendors making decorations out of marigolds and other flowers. Flowers have great significance in Thailand, often given as offerings and are used as lucky charms and decoration. Flower garlands are particular prevalent; you’ll spot them in temples, hanging from taxi rear view mirrors, at shrines, at weddings, and used in a wide array of situations.
Inside the temples, you could see the flowers left draped over statues of Buddha, as well as money trees and places to write your wishes and desires. I have to admit I have never seen bags of marigolds blooms by the head but I do love anything that involves lots of fresh flowers. There were monks at the Grand Palace that would douse you with some holy water for luck as well. All of our temple visits made me appreciate having a God that loves me with an unconditional love and wants to give me the "desires of my heart" without any wishing involved.
I will preface my thoughts with I believe in the humane treatment of all life and believe God put Man on the earth with dominion over it, but expected him to care for it in a loving manner. The one activity I really wanted to do on our trip was to ride an elephant if we could find a place that was a positive environment for them. While we were at the Ayutthaya Ruins, we were able to stop by a place where we could interact with them. I can't describe what it is like to be hugged by an elephant and to have his bristly hair tickling you but it was pure joy. I know he didn't feel the same way, but I really appreciated the opportunity and pray that he gets well taken care of for his efforts.
The spirit houses continued to be evident throughout Thailand as well. You can see the flowers decorating the houses as well as other items to comfort and welcome the spirits.
While in Thailand, we visited the Grand Palace and saw a reclining Buddha. If you travel in Asia, Buddhas and temples are literally everywhere; I think they described Cambodia as the land of a thousand temples and I would believe it. Reclining Buddhas are not quite as common but we have seen several in our travels. In Wat Pho you can find the largest collection of Buddha figurines in Thailand; including the world-renowned 46 meter long gold plated reclining Buddha.
It was definitely evident that there was a king in Thailand because his picture is on every school and half the buildings you see. (If you look closely at the picture below, you can see his picture on the two of the buildings.) King Maha Vajiralongkorn appears to care about his country and seems well loved by the people, all the qualities you would like to see in a king if you have one.
No trip is complete without a relaxing boat ride down the Chao Phraya River. We tooled along the river enjoying the contrasts of the cityscape and the local river villages. We ended up at the Summer Palace of the king and the Ayutthaya Ruins.
I was disappointed that we weren't in the country at the right time to see the floating markets but that gives us something to come back for! Thailand wasn't what I expected but then when your only reference is an old song from 1984, the reality was a nice surprise!