Mini-vacation in Bangkok
The Peninsula and their shuttle boat
Our home away from home!
Spa room with Jacuzzi tub.
The Royal Residence where the king's sister is lying in state.
The reclining Buddha.
During our three-month trips, my husband, John, and I plan mini-vacations. On this year’s Asian trip we decided to treat ourselves to a stay at one of the world’s most famous hotels, The Peninsula Bangkok. The award-wining hotel is so tech sophisticated that there are buttons for everything from closing the drapes to dimming the lights. The bathtub has a built-in TV and a valet button. I wonder, "Why does one call for the valet when in the bathtub?" There is a small box that can be accessed from the hall. Shoes placed in the box at night are returned shined in the morning. When the red light is on it means the box contains a message or the newspaper. Very cool!
Besides being an amazing hotel the Peninsula has the three most important aspects of any property – location, location, location. The hotel is located on one of our favorite rivers, the Chao Phraya. All the Peninsula rooms have a river view. Watching the Chao Phraya is as mesmerizing as watching a campfire. It is a vital river with tiny tugboats pulling barges up and down the river. Long-tail boats zip along reminding us of a James Bond movie. Ferryboat attendants whistle their arrival at a dock. Thai-style boats from the Oriental and Peninsula Hotels crisscross the river. In the evening the lights of the city are reflected in the river, plus the brightly-lit shuttle and dinner boats add a festive look. We started each day with breakfast at the water’s edge and ended the day lounging in a sala by the pool with the river always in view.
We have transited through Bangkok many times and there is always something to do. This time there were many colorful signs wishing the Thai monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej a happy 80th birthday, so we felt a visit to the Grand Palace was appropriate. He has been king for 61 years making him the world's longest serving monarch. He is much loved by his people for creating royal projects including tree-planting programs to protect the environment long before it was popular to do so.
The expansive grounds of the Grand Palace are awash with golden temples and glittering mosaics. The most revered temple in Thailand is the one that houses the Emerald Buddha. The small Buddha is actually made of jade and has a fascinating history of being captured and recovered, then lost and found. The last time it returned to Bangkok was when a rainstorm washed away the plaster that had kept it hidden for a century.
We have so much to learn about other countries’ religions and cultures. I am always embarrassed by our ignorance of Thai culture and the Buddhist religion. We try to learn a little more each time that we visit. Within the palace grounds are scenes from Ramakian, the Thai version of the Hindu epic, Ramayana. The scenes depict the Thai creation story. I liken our learning to the beautiful and intricate mosaics that decorate the buildings and statues. Each time we visit Bangkok we learn a few more pieces of their colorful history. Maybe someday we will have the whole picture. Regardless, I appreciate the beauty and intricacy of the temples and find the impressive statues of the mythical guardians especially intriguing. So much to know, so little time!