Buddha Day: The Grand Palace

After we get Miami Viced up our driver takes us to the Golden Mount. This is a tall spire in the middle of the city. “Take your time, I wait here”, he said this at every stop. We walk around the base of the mount to the entrance. There is a rainforest vibe on the walk up with cascading waterfalls and misty religious scenes as well as some odd monkey see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil thing.

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The steps coil their way up and we come to a plateau mid way up the mount with clanging bells and a large gong at the end. We take a second to improvise a break beat dub step monk chant using all of the bells and the gong. It’s pretty catchy, “I zigga zulu zulu zulu!” A procession of 23 orange robed monks forms and suddenly busts into some of the craziest breakdancing the Golden Mount has ever seen. To finish things off Narcopiggy winds up a giant strike on the gong that sends a luminous beam of energy bursting outwards from the spire at the top towards some distant planet. And with this small impromptu jam session came first contact with a sentient race of intelligent silicone-based lifeforms who at first seemed benevolent but would later use Earth as an intergalactic warehouse for slave and drug trafficking.

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We continue up the mount to it’s peak. Good view of the city up there and the golden spire rising up in the middle surrounded by statues. There’s a monk chant on repeat echoing through the speakers at the top. It’s pretty good. I finally get ‘Ironic’ out of my head from the other day.

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On the way back down we take a breather at the bell plateau again. It’s super humid and hot and we’re all sweating like dogs in a sauna. When no one is paying attention I run with my arm outstretched and clanged all of the bells in a row as fast as my sticky legs could take me. The bells chimed out in quick succession and scared the living shit out of a family trying to take cool gong pics. Drisdelle was laughing his ass off, “Oh man, I wish I’d gotten a video of that.”

Back at the bottom and Tuk Tuk dude is there waiting. He takes us to the outskirts of the Grand Temple and drops us off. This is the last stop on the ‘tour’. He asks for 40 baht. This equates to about a dollar and twenty cents which is ridiculous considering he’s just spent half the day with us. He must get a major commission from the suit shop hustle. We top it off with a few more baht and he’s very grateful. Thus concluded our involvement in the Lucky Buddha Scam.

We cross the street to the Grand Temple area. It is all fenced in and blocked off. There is a large oval around a grass/dirt patch outside the Grand Temple area. We go in and start making our way to the amazing looking colored spires of the Grand Temple.

The oval is bizarre. It seems kind of like a market but also like a military barracks. There are random vendors but then military guard marching, then people getting hair cuts, then some table of neon juices. It all seems very random. There’s also no way out once you get in. We realize that there isn’t really anything to see in here, that it’s all just set up for some giant event for the King, but we have no idea how to get out or what’s actually going on. Every news channel and reporter in Bangkok appear to be here to document the days events.

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As we approach the Grand Palace we can see a massive line of people to get into it. All Thai and all dressed in black. I think the King is actually preserved inside the Royal Palace and people are able to visit him today and pay respects. Judging by the size of the line we won’t be among those people.

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We slip out of the oval and off to the East side of the Grand Temple area. There are a number of shrines here so we ditch our shoes and check them out.

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As we’re crossing the next street a Thai girl stops me and says, “Excuse me, the Princess is coming.” I look around and it seems everyone has gotten down. Everyone is sitting on the ground. “Oh sorry, yes we’ll get down.” And so we joined everyone sitting on the sidewalk.
It seems the whole city got quiet at that moment. No one was talking. Military guard lined the streets and faced away from the temple out towards everyone sitting on the ground. If someone brought a camera up they would strictly tell them, no pictures.

She got in trouble

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We waited several minutes like this, sitting on the ground in silence. And then a processon of 6 pink cadillacs entered the street with 2 cop cars at the front and back and a number of police bikes in between. They sped past rapidly into the Grand Temple area and were quickly out of sight. We waited a bit longer and then in unison the military guard bade the street goers to rise. We got up and continued along our way. It was surreal.

These pretty pink elephants were the center of a roundabout outside the Grand Palace

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Unfortunately for us all of the temples and major monuments that we’d like to see in this area are actually closed during this large event for the King. It seems like our tour day is at an end so we just bust it back to Khaosan road for din din.

 

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