Friday, January 22, 2010


I've been in the jaws of the West Texas desert visiting Big Bend National Park. Forgive my lack of continuity as I back step to show you this wonderful picture Simcha Saul took of the alms giving that takes place every morning in Thailand. I must correct the age of a starting Buddha apprentice from age 10 to age 8.

Our visit is ending; we fly from Chaing Mai and return to Krung Thep Mahanakon, the City of Angels, or Bangkok as it is now known.
Images of elephants drum through my head as we visit the Grand Palace in this Capital City. Here the doorways are high enough to admit both king and beast. An elephant house sits on the grounds for the cleaning and preparation of the Kings ride, or, in the old days, a call to war. In one battle, the king was being bested and his Queen, astride her own elephant, intervened and was killed by the enemy king from his elephant. He was so demoralized by what he had done, he conceded the war to Thailand.
Here mom Susan and daughter Sheila pose before the giant golden Cheji in the distance on the grounds of the Grand Palace.
One of many guardians seen at temples. This fellow guards the Emerald Buddha Monastery which is now the permanent place for the most revered Buddha in Thailand. (No photos allowed.) The Buddha was found in a Stupa covered in plaster, long after a war, where it was hidden from the looting enemy. It is really carved of jade, but the abbot who found it thought it was emerald and so it is still named. It was taken to Laos by a king who returned to his former country to follow his royal Laotian father. It remained outside the country for 226 years before the Thais got it back in about 1778. This garden appeared to be one of giant bonsai, of course, an impossibility.

What can one say of such beauty? Above, a close up of the palace roof with all its glitter and bling.
On the grounds is a complete yard sized replica of Ankor Wat; a weapons and crown museum; a repository for royals ashes, other than kings. Building after building beguiles and blinds you with its beauty and history.

After we returned from the Grand Palace, Adria and I spent our afternoon "free time" at a fish spa. Having our feet nibbled by tiny fish, one of my most memorable experiences from Thailand, and Adria's too, we questioned later whether it was a healthy thing to do or not? The fish eat the dead skin off your feet and legs. We had a manicure, pedicure and then Adria treated herself to a final foot massage. She raved about it. The Thais are experts when it comes to massage.

And later that evening, our farewell cruise aboard a beautiful wooden rice barge. Each of us wore something we'd gotten in Thailand.

And Simcha gifted us with this last view of the Grand Palace from our rice barge as we floated together down the river for the last time.

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