The Golden Buddha

Bangkok

Went for a walk in Chinatown. Lots of gold shops, markets, shark fin restaurants (10,000 Baht/$CAD380 for a large portion). On the way from the boat pier, went through a market containing nothing but greasy old car parts. You could probably enter in one end and come out the other with a nice sedan.

Came across Wat Tramit, with the legendary Golden Buddha.

Bodhisattva – would you take me by the hand?

This was covered in plaster for centuries. Dropped from a crane during a move, the plaster cracked off to reveal a solid gold Buddha. Huh. Who knew?

At present gold prices, it’s worth over $240,000,000.¬† I’m already planning my helicopter-through-the-roof heist scenario.

Wat Arun & Wat Pho

Bangkok

Went to Wat Arun, across the river from the Royal Palace.

Maria at Wat Arun

Made up largely of smashed-up crockery…

building material

… but the result is pretty impressive.

Hey, what’s the holdup?
Inspiring

Most markets and temples here have lots of resident cats. This one was sleeping on the lap of 2 other women. They arose and placed him on the bench. He made a beeline for my lap and went immediately back to sleep.

Cat’s in the cradle.

We crossed the river by ferry to Wat Pho (or Bo – Thai is pretty free and easy with transliteration). Marvelled at the reclining Buddha, 30-odd meters long.

‘Attsa lotta Buddha!

Maria went for a Thai message in one of the premier massage schools in the country, which we discovered was located here. (Thank you, Google.)

More strolling though the grounds.

Wat Pho
Enlightenment – I don’t know what it is
Wat Pho

Arrival in Bangkok

Bangkok
It’s been thirty years since I’ve been to Bangkok. Like all of us, it’s changed a lot. The skyline sprouts a lot more high-rises. The traffic is, if anything, worse. This is where the express water boats come in handy: a cheap, fast, and convenient way to zip up and down the Chao Phraya river, BKK’s main artery.

Bangkok skyline
Bangkok skyline

Man, it’s hot. And humid. We’re talking Turkish bath conditions. Good thing we’re both lovers of intense heat. We’ve been taking it easy for our first few days here.

Sight or Insight of the Day

We notice that Thais seemed to like the colour black as a clothing choice. Then it struck us both at the same time that this must be mourning attire for the death of King Bhumipol, the much-revered monarch who passed away nearly a year ago. Great preparations are underway for his upcoming cremation, including squads of black-clad citizens cleaning the streets.

Cleanup time

Departure

Ottawa

All packed and ready to go. It’s hard to say goodbye to family and friends. But in this age, you’re never really out of touch, for better or worse.

Goodbye, Ottawa - departure
Goodbye, Ottawa.

After a routine flight, we had a lengthy layover in Istanbul. Interesting airport, Istanbul – it’s open 24 hours and has flights departing throughout the night to unusual places, like Tbilisi and Yerevan and Rostov.

Exhausted by the overnight leg from Ottawa, we stretched out on the airport benches and slept like a pair of aging hobos.

Left Istanbul at 1:25 AM for Bangkok.

Sight or Insight of the Day

We witnessed a Dostoyevskian scene in the main departure hall: twenty or more young men, lined up two by two, each pair manacled together by clunky handcuffs, each man clutching an identical duty free bag like children heading for a sleepover. Strange and kind of unsettling.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step…

Actually, this journey begins with many steps, but the most important one was selling our house. We aren’t going anywhere before we slim down our possessions to what can fit in a storage locker and disencumber ourselves of our primary residence. It took months of work to prepare our house for sale. And of course, the day finally arrived when…

Sold! - journey
Sold!

We’ve been happy living in our townhouse overlooking the park and river for about nineteen years. Many happy memories were made here.

Park & river - journey
Park & river

But all good things come to an end.

We both enjoy travelling. After years of two-week and three-week trips, we imagine what it would be like to leave everything behind and amble at our own pace from place to place. This plan has been in the works for years.