Bangkok. Some call it the “City of Angels” or the “Venice of the East”, and then there are the Thais who it call with the full official name: “Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok PHOP Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit “. Easy to remember, isn’t it?!
We visit the Royal Palace and also the Wat Phra Kaew temple, which houses the Emerald Buddha, a small stone Buddha sitting in meditation position on a golden throne decidedly outsized. Considered as the most sacred object of the Thai kingdom. The Thais believe that this is the oldest sculpture of Buddha, thus making it, the most venerated. Fact: every season the King himself changes Buddha’s clothes. Now we see a special ceremony: the King is at the hospital, and from every part of Thailand people come to the Palace to bring best wishes for a speedy recovery. Then everyone leaves his name on the attendance book, which will be sent to the King. We too have left our name. We arrive at the Lying Buddha What Pho Temple. Unbelievable, a 47 m high statue in a large temple that is made to contain it: in fact, we enter the long corridor that you can walk alongside the huge lying body. It’s a pity that the feet are being restored. Its official name is Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram Ratchaworamahawihan and it’s famous not only for its majestic beauty, but also for being the place where the first school of thai massage was born. For this, on the walls there are still drawn the anatomical tables used by students to learn.
At the port of Tha Tien, we board on a typical Long Tail Boat, here called Rua Hang Yao. On the bow different colored baubles worship a deity, and for this reason women have to sit at the bottom of the ship. So does our local guide. We navigate the Chao Phraya River, which has always been a source of life and commerce; the river and its large basin, formed by its tributaries, branch off in the heart of Thailand and flow into the Gulf of Thailand right here in Bangkok.
If you want to spend an evening in Bangkok, you’re spoiled for choice. We opted for a tour of the colorful stalls of the largest fresh flowers market of the city, Phak Klong Dtalat, open day and night. At nightfall, it offers the best of itself: florists begin to create wonderful compositions to be displayed in hotels, restaurants and temples on the following day. In Phak Klong Dtalat you can find all the local species of flowers like jasmine, chrysanthemums, gerberas, orchids, as well as imported species like tulips and iris, with very affordable prices.