Our first excursion was a ride on a long boat on the Chao Phraya River and one of the canals that Bangkok is famous for. It was a nice glimpse of the old Bangkok, although the waterways are no longer the main thoroughfares of commerce through the city. After that we visited Wat Pho, where we saw the famous reclining Buddha and brought offerings for good Kharma. The group then split up to find lunch and continue sight-seeing on their own.
The streets around the temple and palace grounds were thronging with tourists. We gave up trying to get a block or two away from that area —it was just too hot and the streets are confusing— and ducked into a small restaurant for lunch. I was afraid the food would be bad and overpriced, because we were right in the thick of the tourist area, but my concerns were unfounded; it was just fine, and the fruit shakes were delicious. These would become a staple of our diet through Indochina. Just about every restaurant here offers juices, shakes, and smoothies made of whole, fresh fruit in any combination you’d like. They’re a great way to get your fruit, keep up your liquid intake, and cool off, and they’re cheap!
We then visited the Royal Palace, which contains several gold-colored buildings and temples – they were all starting to look the same to me, to be honest.
However, our tickets also gained us admission to the Queen’s museum of textiles, which I found extremely worthwhile. I learned that, as part of the effort to bring Thailand into the modern era, in the early twentieth century the government had decreed that the populace should adopt western-style clothing. This quickly led to the near demise of the traditional costumes of the country. When the King and Queen were preparing to tour Europe and North America in the early 1960s, the young Queen realized that she had nothing in her wardrobe that was distinctively Thai. She worked with designers to reinvent the Thai national costume, which was based on traditional styles, but adapted to western dressmaking techniques. They scoured the countryside for samples of traditional woven cloth. In many cases, there was nothing but scraps and rags, all that remained of the craft.
The Queen then created a foundation to re-create a cottage industry of traditional silk and cotton weaving, needlework, and embroidery, as a way for villagers to supplement their economy. The program has been a big success, and the textiles are exquisite.This entry was posted in Honeymoon 2013