Taking a few days of holiday after her week working in Southeast Asia, Tawn and I volunteered to take Christine (see previous entry) to the Grand Palace, Reclining Buddha, and Temple of Dawn. We also invited our new friend Brian, who had not yet made the temple circuit, figuring rightly that he would round out the party nicely.
We met Christine at her hotel, the JW Marriott on Sukhumvit, with Brian arriving a few minutes before us. From there a quick taxi took us to the pier at the Taksin Bridge.
For you history buffs, note that the Taksin Bridge is not named after the deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Instead, it is named after the King who was the sole member of the Thonburi Dynasty, which immediately preceeded the current Chakri Dynasty. Taksin was king while the Kingdom of Siam had its capital across the river in Thonburi for about fifteen years between the sacking of Ayutthaya by the Burmese and the founding of Khrungthep.
By not starting our tour until after lunch, we took advantage of lighter crowds and increasing cloud cover and breezes. It was still a warm day, but more pleasant than if we had been at the palace as soon as it opened. Sadly, the main hall of the Grand Palace, the one in which the Emerald Buddha is housed, is undergoing exterior refurbishment, so it is covered in green siding which you can see in the picture above. Thankfully, though, we could get inside and pay our respects.
Left: detail of the porcelain used on Wat Arun. These are in fact broken plates. Many of the temples were decorated using porcelain that was brought as ballast in trading ships from China, and this often included brick-and-concrete statues and “one-offs” and mistakes in plate and bowls production that these days would instead be sold at a discount outlet!
After also visiting the Recling Buddha at Wat Pho and then taking the 3-baht ferry across the Chao Phraya River to see Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, we arrived at The Deck.
This small restaurant across from Wat Arun provides spectacular views of the river and the temple as it is lit up against the sunset sky. The food is both French style and Thai, and we mixed and matched to form an entire meal. In this picture below, we have Brian on the left, myself, Tawn and then Christine.
The combination of personalities worked so well, and we enjoyed a liesurely dinner with conversation and a pair of bottles of sparkling French wine. On the way back to home after dropping Christine and Brian off at their respective residences, I mentioned to Tawn that Christine reminds me of no one so much as Katherine Hepburn. From her graceful, erect posture, to her no-nonsense trousers and confident demeanor, she could easily fill the role.
This actually makes for a nice follow up to the International Woman’s Day entry from a few days ago. Because it is refreshing anytime we meet women who are not only successful in the business and academic worlds but are also very confident of their opinions and right to have a place in the world. My observation over the years is that often times, men (by which I mean straight men; gay men love them) often feel very uncomfotable with these types of women, labelling them with epithets to hide their own insecurities and feelings of vulnerability.
So, yay, strong women!