We finally arrived at the Grand Palace only to find security gates placed all along the perimeter of the palace about 300 yards away. We had to go through metal detectors and show our IDs in order to get through the gate. These security measures blocked anyone from entering the perimeter by vehicle. You had to go through these metal detectors in order to get to the actual palace itself. We had our brief panic moment when we thought that they needed our passports but luckily they took our state issued IDs and we were let in. I’m not entirely sure why the security measures were put in place but I think it may have had something to do with the passing of the King but to be honest, I am not sure what happened or what was driving this. In the two previous attempts to get to the Grand Palace, I had never experienced security like this. In fact, the two times before were super easy to get right up to the gates via tuk tuks and taxis.
Once we got to the actual Grand Palace, our adventure began. We were a group of five people, two males and three females. The three females came prepared because the dress codes are a bit strict over there. I had brought my one size fits all elephant pants to put over my shorts and had a longer t-shirt to wear over my tank top so that I could cover my shoulders. When we arrived, we tried to get toward the gardens and as we got closer, our group was stopped by a security guard because the boys were wearing shorts and so they had to get cover ups. So they got in line to rent them and while we waited surrounded by hoards of tourists, we got the brilliant idea to go buy shawls/scarves/cover ups from the gift store so that the boys could wrap them around their legs to get into the Grand Palace. We found them in the air conditioned gift shop, had the boys come meet us and they tied them around their waist. We started walking toward the tickets booth past the original security guard and thought that we were in the clear. As we got closer to purchasing our tickets, another security guard showed up and told the boys that they needed to wear pants like men. So we were sent back to the clothing rental location for pants for the boys.
As we walked back, we came up with the brilliant idea to give the guys our one size fits all elephant pants and we would wear the cloth wraps. But the only issue was that while we were in the gift shop, I had taken off my shorts because I was melting from the multiple layers so I couldn’t just give away my pants. So we got creative. I can officially say that I have changed clothing in the Grand Palace gardens. We found a nice shady less obvious location hidden along the wall and I performed some clothes changing magic. We wrapped the cloths around our waists, shimmied out of the pants, then managed to pull our shorts back on in public without getting caught. I have to say, doing this when you’re sweating all the water out of your body is not an easy activity. We finally accomplished the swap and began making our way into the Grand Palace.
I’ve been here multiple times but have not actually gone into the temples that are housed at the Grand Palace, and every time I show up, I usually get there right before they close the doors. This place is the home to the Emerald Buddha and of all the times I have been to Thailand, I have never seen this Buddha. So that was our number one goal. We started walking around the intricate buildings, past the various statues and checking out the murals. I would definitely recommend trying to get here first thing in the morning or later in the day. Arriving right at noon meant that we were fighting everyone to try and get through to see anything which definitely did not help with the heat situation.
After checking out everything there was to see, we took our shoes off, placed them on the racks outside of the main temple and made our way into the home of the Emerald Buddha. You cannot take pictures in there so I don’t have an image of this Buddha but it truly is beautiful. It’s rather large for jade and it’s impressive. It’s not the size of the Buddha’s you’d image in the all gold. From a distance it looks like it’s maybe a foot and a half tall which is pretty huge for being a gemstone. It is clothed in gold and it sits high above everything else in the room. It was rather crowded when we showed up and so we couldn’t get very close to it so we walked in, saw, and walked out.
After that, the heat officially got to us and we decided we really needed to evaluate our priorities. We had a few other things we needed to see, we were melting and we had evening plans. So we decided to skip Wat Pho and go to my favorite temple in Thailand, Wat Arun. We began our journey to the water taxi and made our way across the river.