The princess had her celebration and by morning, the Grand Palace was open for tourists. The Palace was built in 1782; it served as the official residence of Thailand’s Royal Family until 1925. Each King added to the grounds and today, it is a large complex comprised of several ornate buildings, pavilions, courtyards, and manicured gardens. No tourists are allowed inside the palace even though the King now resides in Dusit Palace. The Grand Palace is still used for official events like royal ceremonies (princess birthday celebrations) and state functions.
One of the most important structures at the Grand Palace is Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It houses the famed Emerald Buddha and is considered the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand. The unique aspect of the royal temple in the palace is that it has no living quarters for Buddhist monks. The outside walls of the building are decorated with gilt and colored glass mosaics. The Emerald Buddha is carved from a block of jasper and is about two feet tall. He is in a meditation pose. There are three different outfits made of gold which are changed during a special ceremony at the beginning of summer, rainy season and winter.
There are murals depicting mythical battles, ceramic and mother of pearl steps, gold mosaic encrusted towers, a replica of Angkor Wat and six pairs of demonic guards keeping an eye out so no harm will come to the Emerald Buddha.
After several hours of walking the palace grounds, we came across the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles. The building is beautiful. The first floor has an exhibit explaining which part of the country particular patterns and designs come from. Upstairs is dedicated to the Kings collection of batik fabrics from Java and several galleries of the queens stylish outfits from the 1960’s until very recent times. No photos allowed in the batik and fashion section.
A Thai massage in Thailand, at the school where it originated, yes please!
Relaxed after being pushed and pulled and elbowed and poked, meant time for a Pad Thai lunch (yes it is not just called pad here) . A walk around our area looking for a park, we spotted a unique and cute car called a fígaro.
The Grand Palace more than exceeds its name. The Thai massages are a worthwhile workout. And, as expected, Thai food is spicy, fresh and fabulous. Thailand is terrific.