Even if we got stuck in horrible Bangkok traffic on our first morning in the city, the fact was we still got to do what we had planned for the day. This included taking a boat along Chao Phraya River, considered Thailand’s lifeblood, to Wat Pho, Bangkok’s largest and oldest temple dating back from the 16th century.
Initially, we planned to check out the two on separate occasions: make our way to Wat Pho then ride a river cruise down Chao Phraya. But my resourceful sister, who pored over the Bangkok map, found that we could simply take the BTS SkyTrain (take Sukhumvit Line from On Nut, where we were coming from, to Siam station; then at Siam, change to the Silom Line) to Saphan Taksin station, where the Central Pier (Sathorn Pier) is located nearby. This is where the Chao Phraya Tourist Boat docks and for 25 Baht, the boat stops in several piers including the Tha Tien Pier, where Wat Pho is a short walk away.
The river is lined with five-star hotels, some old buildings, and even older temples–the names of some I can’t remember as I was paying more attention to the ominous gray skies than the tour guide in front of the boat.
By the time my sister and I got off the boat at Tha Tien Pier, it had started raining. The wooden pier has several souvenir shops and modest restaurants and food stalls where we could have stayed for a while, but we decided to go and look for the temple where you can find the famous Reclining Buddha. When we got to the street at the end of the pier, we turned right and found an entrance to Wat Pho across the street. And right near the ticket gate was the hall with the Reclining Buddha–covered in gold leaf and all of 46 meters long and 15 meters high.
A Reclining Buddha is supposed to symbolize his arrival at Nirvana. Who wouldn’t want to be in such a comfortable position after all that quest for Enlightenment is finally over?
In the grounds of Wat Pho, you can find more statues of Buddha–standing, sitting. There are also resident monks and a massage school. My yoga-practicing sister loved the many Buddha statues in lotus positions. I loved the sight of the chedi or stupa, the structures decorated with porcelain mosaic, located on the courtyards and used by Buddhists as places of worship. The colorful mosaic, the doors, and the intricate details are beautiful. I could spend an entire day just staring at it…and wondering what’s behind those red doors.
Chao Phraya Tourist Boat 25 Baht (one way) To go back to the BTS station, return to Tha Tien Pier and take another tourist boat heading to the Central Pier
Wat Pho admission 50 Baht